Berkshire Dumps Most of J&J and GE Stakes; Adds Deere & Co.
Warren Buffett and his investment lieutenants Todd Combs and Ted Weschler were busy buying and selling stocks in the third-quarter. Berkshire-Hathaway's 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. Berkshire sold most of its position in both Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) and GE (NYSE: GE).
According to the filing, Warren Buffett's holding company cut its stake in pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson by 95 percent and its GE position was slashed by 88 percent. 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 (NYSE: IR), Dollar General (NYSE: DG) and CVS Caremark (NYSE: CVS) during the quarter.
Among the stocks that were purchased during the quarter were Deere & Co. (NYSE: DE), Precision Castparts (NYSE: PCP), and Wabco Holdings (NYSE: WBC). It is likely that these positions were initiated by either Combs, Weschler, or both, and 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 normally is only involved in purchases of $1 billion or more. The Deere position was valued at $337 million while Precision Castparts accounted for around $216 million. Berkshire reported that it owned 1.6 million shares of Wabco, worth around $92 million.
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 (NYSE: GM) and National Oilwell Varco (NYSE: NOV) by 50 percent and 47 percent, respectively. Berkshire also cut its stake in UPS (NYSE: UPS) by 77 percent. Other positions that were trimmed included Lee Enterprises (NYSE: LEE), Kraft Foods (NASDAQ: KRFT) and Visa (NYSE: V). The Lee stake was cut by 65 percent, Kraft by 48 percent and Visa by 25 percent.
Other stocks that Berkshire was selling in the quarter included Verisk Analytics (NASDAQ: VRSK), ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP), Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG) and US Bancorp (NYSE: USB), although the reductions in position size were not terribly dramatic.
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