Price levels continue to rise at a rate we haven’t seen in decades.
In December, U.S. consumer prices surged 7% on a year-over-year basis, the fastest pace since June 1982, when inflation hit 7.1%.ADVERTISEMENT
If you’re hoarding cash, spiking inflation means serious consequences for your savings.
Fortunately, investing legend Warren Buffett has plenty of advice on what to own when consumer prices spike.
In a 1981 letter to shareholders, Buffett highlighted two characteristics that help companies thrive amid high inflation: an ability to increase prices easily and an ability to take on more business without having to spend too much.
In other words, invest in asset-light businesses with pricing power.
Here are three Berkshire holdings that fit the description.
American Express (AXP)
American Express demonstrated its pricing power quite recently as it raised the annual fee on its Platinum Card from $550 all the way to $695.
The company also stands to directly benefit in an inflationary environment.
American Express makes most of its money through discount fees — merchants are charged a percentage of every Amex card transaction. As the price of goods and services increases, the company gets to take a cut of larger bills.
In fact, business is already booming, as the company’s revenue jumped 25% year over year to $10.9 billion in Q3.
American Express is the third-largest holding at Berkshire Hathaway, only behind Apple and Bank of America. Owning 151.6 million shares of AXP, Berkshire’s stake is worth over $24 billion.
Berkshire also owns shares of American Express competitors Visa and Mastercard, although the positions are much smaller.
Yes, American Express trades at over $170 per share. But you can get a smaller piece of the company using investing apps that allow you to buy fractions of shares with as much money as you are willing to spend.
American Express shares currently offer a dividend yield of 1%.
Coca-Cola is a classic example of a so-called “recession-resistant” business. Whether the economy is booming or struggling, a simple can of Coke is still affordable to most people.
The company’s entrenched market position also gives it some pricing power. Besides, Coca-Cola can always rely on a trick it’s used in the past: keeping its prices the same but subtly reducing its bottle size.
Factor in its strengths from its iconic brand portfolio and the fact that its products are sold in more than 200 countries and territories.
After all, the company went public more than 100 years ago. It has survived — and thrived — in many periods of high inflation.
Buffett has held Coca-Cola in his portfolio since the late ’80s. Today, Berkshire owns 400 million shares of the company, worth approximately $23.1 billion.
At current prices, you can lock in a dividend yield of 2.8% on Coca-Cola’s shares.
No one who spends $1,600 for a fully decked-out iPhone 13 Pro Max would call it a steal, but consumers love splurging on Apple products anyway.
Earlier this year, management revealed that the company’s active installed base of hardware has surpassed 1.65 billion devices, including over 1 billion iPhones.
While competitors offer cheaper devices, many consumers don’t want to live outside the Apple ecosystem. That means, as inflation spikes, Apple can pass higher costs to its global consumer base without worrying as much about a drop in sales volume.
Today, Apple is Buffett’s largest publicly traded holding, representing more than 40% of Berkshire’s portfolio by market value.
One of the reasons behind that concentration is the sheer increase in the tech giant’s stock price. Over the past five years, Apple shares have surged more than 500%.
Apple currently offers a dividend yield of 1.7%.