Buffett Still Has A Taste For Apple

By Glenn Dyer | More Articles by Glenn Dyer

Berkshire Hathaway has confirmed it loaded up on more shares of Apple in the three months to June, adding around 13 million and confirming that it is now the single largest holding in a portfolio worth more than $US195 billion at the end of the second quarter, and more than $US200 billion now.

It also said it owned close to $US47 billion of Apple at the end of June (nearly $US53 billion), comprising about 251.955 million shares, up 5% from 239.6 million at the end of March.

Apple became the first company to top the $US1 trillion valuation level in July and Berkshire’s holding has ridden the rebound in the iPhone maker’s surge since early 2016

Berkshire also trimmed its stakes in American Airlines and United Continental – partly reversing a big move into two of the four major airline stocks more than a year ago.

These sales were small, more of a balancing while it boosted its holding in Southwestern and Delta, the other two major US airline groups.

The details of these changes and others were listed in the regular quarterly fund manager’s filing from Berkshire with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Berkshire also added to positions of Goldman Sachs, Bank of New York Mellon, Southwest Airlines and General Motors. Berkshire also reduced its stake in Phillips 66 and Wells Fargo.

It quit its positions in Monsanto (accepting the Bayer takeover offer) and Verisk Analytics

Berkshire Hathaway owned 44 stocks with a total value of $US195.6 billion at June 30, according to the final.

Berkshire first bought Apple shares in the March quarter of 2016 and has been adding shares ever since. It splurged on 75 million in the first quarter of this year (while quitting its long held IBM position at the same time).

The most notable add (besides Apple) was the move by Berkshire to boost its holding in Goldman Sachs by 21%.

Berkshire said it now owned just on 13.3 million Goldman shares worth $US2.92 billion, compared with 11 million it owned three months earlier.

The move to top up its Goldman stake came as the bank confirmed late in the quarter that long time CEO, Lloyd Blankfein was retiring. Berkshire first moved into Goldman Sachs in the GFC in 2008 when it backed the bank by buying preference shares and adding several billion dollars in new capital, and the Buffett name. It lightened its holding a few years ago but held some of the converted prefs. It gained its stake in Bank of America in a similar deal.

The Well Fargo sale was small, but underlines its fall from grace at Berkshire Hathaway in the past couple of years after Buffett’s move to lift his stake past 10% was made tougher by regulators. Bank of America has replaced Well Fargo as a core holding (with Apple and Coca Cola).

Glenn Dyer

About Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer has been a finance journalist and TV producer for more than 40 years. He has worked at Maxwell Newton Publications, Queensland Newspapers, AAP, The Australian Financial Review, The Nine Network and Crikey.

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