OMAHA, Neb. – Investor Warren Buffett recommitted to his favorite bank stock, Bank of America, during the first quarter while dumping two other banks as part of a number of moves in Berkshire Hathaway's stock portfolio.
Berkshire provided a quarterly update on its U.S. holdings Monday in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Many investors follow the company’s moves closely because of Buffett’s remarkably successful investing record over the decades.
Berkshire slightly increased its 179.4 million share stake in Bank of America stock while eliminating long-time stakes in US Bancorp and the Bank of New York Mellon. Buffett has eliminated a number of bank investments in recent years, but he continues to back Bank of America.
Berkshire also picked up nearly 10 million shares of Capital One stock.
The quarterly filings don’t identify which investments Buffett made and which ones were done by one of Berkshire’s two other investment managers, but Buffett generally handles all of Berkshire’s biggest investments worth $1 billion or more. Buffett doesn’t regularly comment on these stock filings.
Berkshire continued to reduce its Activision Blizzard stake in the quarter down to 49.4 million shares from 52.7 million at the start of the year. Buffett has said he bought that stock as a way to bet that Microsoft’s acquisition of the video game maker will ultimately go through. That deal is in doubt after British regulators rejected it and U.S. regulators sued to block it although the European Union did endorse Microsoft’s purchase Monday.
Berkshire also cut its General Motors investment down to 40 million shares from the previous quarter's 50 million.
Monday’s report doesn’t include the biggest investment move Berkshire has made over the past year to sell more than half of its stake in Chinese electric carmaker BYD. Those sales, which have generated several billion dollars for Berkshire, are reported separately on the Hong Kong stock exchange. At the last update on that investment, Berkshire held about 108 million BYD shares worth roughly $3.3 billion.
Until last August, Berkshire held 225 million shares that it bought in 2008 for $232 million. The value of that BYD investment had ballooned to more than $9.5 billion last summer before Buffett began selling.
One of the biggest other moves Berkshire made in the quarter was selling some 35 million Chevron shares to leave it with 132.4 million shares of the oil producer, but Berkshire had already disclosed that move in its quarterly earnings report.
And Buffett remains bullish on oil stocks.
One of Buffett’s biggest purchases over the past year has been billions of dollars worth of Occidental Petroleum stock. Berkshire picked up another 17.4 million shares during the quarter, as it previously reported, to take control of nearly 24% of the oil producer’s stock or some 211.7 million shares. Berkshire does hold warrants to buy another 83.9 million Occidental shares, but Buffett told shareholders at Berkshire’s annual meeting earlier this month that he has no plans to try to buy the entire company.
Berkshire’s biggest singe investment in Apple shares remained essentially unchanged at 915.6 million shares. The Omaha, Nebraska-based conglomerate did pick up 16.5 million shares of HP Inc. to give it nearly 121 million shares of the printer maker.
Berkshire eliminated nearly all of the rest of its 8.3 million shares of chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor. Just last fall, Buffett bought 60 million shares in that company but he has said he quickly reconsidered that investment based on geopolitical concerns about China.
In addition to investments, Berkshire owns dozens of companies outright, including Geico insurance, BNSF railroad, several large utilities and an assortment of manufacturing and retail businesses such as Precision Castparts, See’s Candy and NetJets.