Buffett's Berkshire shuffles its holdings
Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. revealed three stock acquisitions that it snapped up in secret, including new bets on Chevron Corp. and Verizon Communications Inc. that sent their shares up, and cut its Apple Inc. stake in the last three months of 2020.
Berkshire also bought stock in insurance brokerage Marsh & McLennan Cos., disclosing three wagers that were granted confidential status and not revealed in a third-quarter regulatory filing, according to an updated document released Tuesday. The Apple stake reduction left Berkshire with a holding valued at about US$120 billion at the end of 2020, according to another filing. The iPhone maker remains Berkshire’s biggest single stock holding.
Buffett and his investment deputies, Todd Combs and Ted Weschler, reshaped the portfolio over the last year as COVID-19 struck the U.S. The company was heavily invested in the banking sector, which has done well in the pandemic but is exposed to consumer finances and commercial real estate. The conglomerate has spent recent months lightening up on some of those lenders, while maintaining bets on firms such as Bank of America Corp.
Berkshire cut a few bank holdings, exiting JPMorgan Chase & Co., PNC Financial Services Group Inc. and M&T Bank Corp. while slashing its Wells Fargo & Co. stake by 59 per cent. The company also shifted recent bets on drugmakers by increasing stakes in Merck & Co., Abbvie Inc. and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. It ended a recent investment in Pfizer Inc.
Berkshire also exited a bet on Barrick Gold Corp. The stake was a surprise when it was revealed last year, given Buffett’s years of criticizing investments in the precious metal. The company also trimmed its wager on General Motors Co., cutting that holding to a stake valued at roughly US$3 billion at the end of the fourth quarter.
Some of the new stakes were sizable. Berkshire held an investment in Chevron valued at nearly US$4.1 billion at the end of 2020, while its Marsh & McLennan bet was valued at US$499 million. Berkshire accumulated a US$8.6 billion stake in Verizon, a company that it had previously bet on but cut in 2019.
Verizon stock was up 4.1 per cent to US$56.35 at 8:01 a.m. in early New York trading, while Chevron gained 4.1 per cent as well, to US$96.99.