Warren Buffett has overtaken Jeff Bezos on the rich list this year and now threatens to unseat Bill Gates as the second-wealthiest American, after Elon Musk.
The famed investor and Berkshire Hathaway CEO was worth an estimated $108 billion as of Thursday’s close, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Bezos, Amazon’s founder and executive chair, trailed him with an estimated $107 billion fortune.
Gates, Microsoft’s cofounder and one of Buffett’s close friends, has an estimated net worth of $110 billion, putting him within touching distance. Even Musk, the Tesla and Twitter CEO, isn’t far ahead, with an estimated $138 billion fortune.
At the start of this year, Buffett lagged Musk by over $170 billion, Bezos by over $90 billion, and Gates by over $30 billion. He has surpassed Bezos and closed the gap on Gates and Musk because of the relative outperformance of Berkshire stock, which accounts for about 99% of Buffett’s net worth.
Microsoft stock has tumbled nearly 30%, and Amazon shares have halved in value this year, while Tesla plunged almost 70%. In contrast, Berkshire’s stock price has climbed about 2%, meaning Buffett’s wealth would have grown this year if he hadn’t donated about $5 billion of his Berkshire stock to good causes.
Indeed, it’s worth noting that since 2006, Buffett has given away roughly 52% of his Berkshire shares. All else being equal, if he had retained his full stake of nearly 475,000 class A shares, they would be worth $223 billion today, making him the wealthiest person by a long stretch.
Even with his reduced fortune, Buffett ranks fifth on Bloomberg’s rich list. The French luxury tycoon Bernard Arnault is No. 1 with an estimated $165 billion net worth, and the Indian industrialist Gautam Adani ranks third with an estimated $121 billion. Given the pair’s nationalities, if Buffett dislodges Gates from the No. 4 spot, Musk will be the only American wealthier than him.
Investors have switched out of growth stocks like Microsoft, Tesla, and Amazon this year for defensive names like Berkshire in the face of historic inflation, soaring interest rates, and a looming recession.
Buffett’s conglomerate owns scores of businesses, including Geico and See’s Candies, as well as billion-dollar stakes in public companies such as Coca-Cola and Kraft Heinz. As a result, investors view it as highly diversified and well placed to weather an economic downturn.
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