Berkshire cuts J&J and GE stakes, adds Deere
These were not the only changes to Warren Buffett's holding company's portfolio.
By Scott Rubin
Warren Buffett and his investment lieutenants Todd Combs and Ted Weschler were busy buying and selling stocks in the third-quarter. Berkshire-Hathaway's (BRK.A, BRK.B) most recent 13-F filing, which provides an overview of the firm's long equity portfolio as of September 30, shows a number of significant changes, including the sale of most of its positions in Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and General Electric (GE).
According to the filing, Warren Buffett's holding company cut its stake in pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson by 95% and slashed its GE position by 88%. As of the filing period, Berkshire held just $34 million worth of JNJ and under $12 million of GE. The firm also sold out of its positions in Ingersoll-Rand (IR), Dollar General (DG) and CVS Caremark (CVS) during the quarter.
Among the stocks Berkshire purchased during the quarter were Deere & Co. (DE), Precision Castparts (PCP) and Wabco Holdings (WBC). The Deere position was valued at $337 million, the Precision Castparts position at $216 million, and the 1.6 million shares of Wabco were worth around $92 million.
It is likely that these positions were initiated by Combs and Weschler and are not the work of Buffett. The relatively small position sizes would suggest that the Oracle of Omaha did not choose the stocks himself, as he is normally only involved in purchases of $1 billion or more.
The total value of Berkshire's stock portfolio was $75.3 billion as of September 30, versus $74.3 billion at the end of June.
Additional noteworthy activity in the third-quarter included additions to existing stakes in General Motors (GM) and National Oilwell Varco (NOV) by 50% and 47%, respectively. Berkshire also cut its stake in UPS (UPS) by 77%. Other positions that were trimmed included Lee Enterprises (LEE), Kraft Foods (KRFT) and Visa (V). The Lee stake was cut by 65%, Kraft by 48% and Visa by 25%.
Other stocks that Berkshire was selling in the quarter included Verisk Analytics (VRSK), ConocoPhillips (COP), Procter & Gamble (PG) and US Bancorp (USB), although the reductions in position size were not terribly dramatic.
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