What's Warren Buffett's favorite stock? That's a softball question, of course. The answer is indisputably Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A) (NYSE:BRK.B), the company Buffet has led for over five decades.
You might find it a little harder to identify the legendary investor's No. 2 and No. 3 favorite stocks. Buffett hasn't actually ranked his favorites. However, based on Berkshire's holdings, there's a really good argument to be made that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is his second favorite stock, with Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) coming in third place.
I wouldn't be surprised in the least if Buffett is busy scooping up shares of all three of these stocks during the coronavirus-fueled bear market. But should you buy these Buffett stocks right now?
1. Berkshire Hathaway
It's hard to beat Berkshire Hathaway's performance over the long term. And while the stock's growth rate has slowed in recent years, Berkshire is still narrowly beating the performance of the S&P 500 Index over the last five years. There are a couple of reasons I think the stock is a great buy right now.
First, Berkshire is sitting on a huge cash stockpile. At the end of 2019, the company's cash, cash equivalents, and short-term investments totaled nearly $125 billion. You can bet that Buffett has begun putting some of that cash to use by buying shares of wonderful companies at an attractive price.
Second, I think that one of those wonderful companies at an attractive price that Berkshire will buy is... Berkshire Hathaway. My colleague Billy Duberstein pointed out recently that Berkshire stock is now below the levels where key insiders were buying back in 2018. I think those insiders are likely to be buying the stock again. And I think Berkshire is probably repurchasing shares as well.
What does this mean? Berkshire's investments during this downturn should pay off in a major way over the long run, and perhaps over the short term, too. Buffett's favorite stock should be on the favorites list for most investors, in my view.
Warren Buffett said in 2018 that he'd "love to own 100% of Apple." Berkshire Hathaway doesn't own all of the technology giant, but Apple is its biggest equity holding by far.
Apple's share price plunged with the spread of the novel coronavirus throughout much of the world. The company closed most of its Apple stores and faces the possibility of supply chain disruptions because of its reliance on Chinese manufacturers.
However, the long-term prospects for Apple still appear to be very good. The company should see a surge in sales once it launches a new iPhone version that supports high-speed 5G wireless networks. Demand is soaring for its wearables products. Apple also continues to enjoy a steady increase in revenue from its services, which include iCloud, Apple Music, and Apple Pay.
There might be a light at the end of the tunnel for Apple with the coronavirus crisis in the near term as well. Apple hopes to reopen its retail stores in the first half of April and has already opened the doors again for its Apple stores in China. Even if it takes longer for Apple to return to a semblance of normality, I think this Buffett favorite is a great stock to buy right now.
2. Bank of America
Bank stocks have been high on Buffett's list for quite a while. Berkshire's investment portfolio currently includes eight banks. Its biggest position in the group is Bank of America.
The entire financial services sector has taken a major hit as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Bank of America is one of several major banks that are treating the pandemic like a natural disaster and are deferring mortgage and loan payments for customers affected by the coronavirus. It's also the most rate-sensitive of the group, so super-low interest rates hurt the company's bottom line.
These are only short-term headwinds, though. I don't think it will take Bank of America long to bounce back. The company remains financially strong and has taken smart steps to generate growth even as online banking has increased in popularity.
One other thing investors should especially like about Bank of America is its nice dividend, which currently yields close to 3.4%. And Bank of America has boosted its dividend payout by a whopping 260% over the past five years. Even investors who aren't billionaires like Buffett should like this stock at its current valuation.