In today’s Bulldog tech and life science wrapup:

  • Buffett’s firm invests heavily in Apple, airline stocks
  • Softbank adds Fortress Investment to growing empire 
  • Disney ends deal with YouTube star over anti-Semitic stunt

The details:

  • Buffett’s firm invests heavily in Apple, airline stocks

Warren Buffett’s company nearly quadrupled its investment in Apple to over 57 million shares during the last three months of last year.

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. filed a quarterly update on its U.S. stock portfolio with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday. Besides the Apple move, Berkshire also revealed a new 8 million share stake in Monsanto and added to its relatively new airline investments.

Berkshire, meanwhile, sold off a significant portion of its Wal-Mart investment and reduced its stake in the retailer to 1.4 million shares from nearly 13 million shares at the end of September.

Berkshire’s Apple Inc. stake is now worth $7.7 billion, up from roughly $2 billion the previous quarter. That investment got attention when it was first disclosed last year because Buffett has always been reluctant to invest in technology companies.

Investors like to look at Berkshire’s investments because of Buffett’s remarkably successful track record, although the filing doesn’t make clear who made all the investments. Berkshire officials don’t generally comment on the filings and didn’t respond to questions Tuesday.

Buffett handles the biggest investments in Berkshire’s portfolio, such as Coca-Cola, Wells Fargo and IBM. He has said that investments of less than $1 billion are likely to be the work of Ted Weschler or Todd Combs, who each handle about $9 billion for Berkshire.

Buffett surprised many people last fall by disclosing new investments in American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Continental and Southwest because he had previously advised investors to stay away from the airline sector.

  • Softbank adds Fortress Investment to growing empire

The $3.3 billion acquisition by SoftBank Group Corp., the Japanese telecommunications, internet and solar energy giant, of Fortress Investment Group marks tycoon Masayoshi Son’s latest step in building an investment empire.

Son said the deal, announced by both sides Wednesday, will immediately contribute to his strategy for growth and complement his Softbank Vision Fund plan for investing in leading technologies including artificial intelligence and the “internet of Things,” which links devices through the Internet.

“Fortress’ excellent track record speaks for itself, and we look forward to benefiting from its leadership, broad-based expertise and world-class investment platform,” Son said in a statement.

Tokyo-based Softbank has been aggressive in global acquisitions and has been seeking partners for its private fund for technology investments that it says may grow to $100 billion. Son appears determined to deliver on his promise to President Donald Trump to invest $50 billion in U.S. startups and create 50,000 jobs.

In buying New York-based Fortress, he is betting more on Fortress’s wide ranging expertise and heft in global investment than on gaining any edge in the technology sector: the U.S. investment house has largely focused on finance and real estate, leisure industries, transport and other infrastructure.

  • Disney ends deal with YouTube star over anti-Semitic stunt

Disney’s Maker Studios and Google’s YouTube are distancing themselves from a top YouTube star after he made jokes construed as anti-Semitic and posted Nazi imagery in his videos.

Felix Kjellberg, known online as PewDiePie, has the most popular YouTube channel, with more than 53 million subscribers. The Swedish YouTube star rose to fame by posting videos of him playing and commenting about video games. More recently, he branched out into non-gaming videos that show him performing skits, stunts or making jokes.

Disney, whose Maker Studios runs Kjellberg’s channels and network, said he crossed the line with some of his videos. One video from January shows two Indian men paid by Kjellberg to hold up a sign that says “Death to all Jews.” Kjellberg said the video was meant to demonstrate how far people will go if they get paid to do something, but he didn’t think they would actually do it. Other videos show Nazi imagery in a satirical way.

In blog post Kjellberg said he was making jokes, but realizes now that they were offensive.

  • Merck Alzheimer’s drug fails in 1 study; another continues

Merck & Co. will stop its study of an experimental Alzheimer’s drug in people with mild or moderate symptoms because interim results showed “virtually no chance” of any benefit.

However, the drugmaker said Tuesday it will continue another study of the drug, verubecestat, in patients who don’t yet show symptoms. They have some memory problems, but can still perform daily activities.

The two studies were intended to enable Merck to seek regulators’ approval to sell verubecestat.

Alzheimer’s is one of the toughest diseases to treat.

While a few treatments temporarily ease symptoms such as memory loss, confusion and agitation, dozens of drugs tested have failed to slow mental decline or halt the mind-robbing disease, including the one Eli Lilly & Co. scrapped in November.