Warren Buffett is well-known for his value-oriented approach to investing, but Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A 0.61%) (BRK.B 0.79%) also holds some intriguing growth stocks in its portfolio. With the growth-heavy Nasdaq Composite index now down roughly 31.6% across 2022's trading, this could be the right time to heed one of Buffett's most-quoted bits of investing wisdom: "Be greedy when others are fearful."
Amazon has been one of the most innovative and influential companies of the last quarter century. It spearheaded the growth of the e-commerce market and used its strength in online retail as a springboard into the cloud infrastructure space. Today, the company maintains leadership positions in both e-commerce and cloud services, and both segments look poised to benefit further from secular growth trends.
The online retail business is capital intensive, relatively low margin, and has been a drag on overall profitability lately, but the situation should improve over the long term as automation improves margins and the share of retail spending going to e-commerce continues to grow. While online retail accounts for the large majority of Amazon's overall revenue, it's actually the cloud business that is its crown jewel when it comes to profitability.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) leads the cloud infrastructure market and provides technologies that are the backbone for much of the modern internet and application services ecosystem. New websites and apps are coming online every day, existing ones are expanding their operations, and these trends have Amazon in a position to facilitate and benefit from the growth of the overall cloud software market. Even better, AWS is posting operating income margins north of 30%, and its sales growth of 29% in the company's last quarter shows that demand is strong.
In addition to its core e-commerce and cloud services businesses, Amazon has also been making waves in digital advertising. It now trails only Alphabet and Meta Platforms in terms of market share in the U.S., and its leadership in e-commerce and cloud and data analysis resources could help it continue gaining share in the category.
With the stock price down nearly 33% year to date and 38.6% from its high, Amazon stock is a worthwhile buy for long-term investors.
By some metrics, Snowflake is the most growth-dependent stock in the Berkshire Hathaway portfolio. It trades at roughly 33 times this year's expected sales and has a market capitalization of roughly $56 billion, though its stock has fallen by roughly 48% across 2022's trading. With that kind of valuation, the stock could see outsized sell-offs if pessimism continues to shake the broader market. But though it's a somewhat uncharacteristic pick for Berkshire Hathaway's portfolio, there are good reasons why Buffett was comfortable with the risks associated with it.
Snowflake has been posting impressive growth -- revenue was up roughly 83.5% in the first half -- and it appears to be building the foundations for a durable moat. Its Data Cloud platform allows businesses and organizations to combine and analyze data from Amazon, Microsoft, and Alphabet's otherwise-siloed cloud infrastructure systems. This makes it possible to generate superior analytics insights and faster software responses, and this characteristic is helping Snowflake gain favor as a platform for developing and running cloud-native applications.
Snowflake also uses a consumption-based billing model -- customers pay for services as they use them. This helps it attract new clients, and it also helps the company generate more revenue from customers as their usage scales. Last quarter, existing customers increased their spending by 71% on average compared to the prior-year period, pushing overall revenue up 81% year over year. With Snowflake still adding new customers at an encouraging clip and the company's platform gaining favor as a foundation for software development, there seems to be a strong growth engine here.