Warren Buffett doesn’t lack for interest from the general public and media.
Hundreds of books, for example, have been written about the multi-billionaire investing legend from Omaha.
Still sharp at 92, along with his fellow nonagenarian colleague, Charlie Munger, a sprightly 99, Buffett and his favourite investments are still followed closely.
That’s why we were interested when we came across a ranking of Buffett’s top 47 stock holdings at Berkshire Hathaway, the company Buffett has been running since 1965, which he transformed from a failing textile company into an insurance and investment colossus.
Naturally, 47 is an unwieldy amount so we have narrowed it down to the top five.
by Dan Burrows, Financial Writer, Kiplinger
- Shares held: 151,610,700
- Holding value: $22,400,480,926
- Percent of portfolio: 7.49%
American Express continues to endure as one of Warren Buffett’s favorite investments.
Buffett likes to say this his preferred holding period is “forever,” and AmEx is one of the premier examples.
Berkshire entered its initial stake in the credit card company in 1963, when a struggling AmEx badly needed capital.
Buffett obliged, getting favorable terms on his investment.
He has played the role of white knight many times over the years, including during the 2008 financial crisis, as a means to get stakes in good companies at a discount.
Berkshire Hathaway, which owns fully 20.4% of American Express’ shares outstanding, is by far the company’s largest shareholder.
Buffett praised the power of AmEx’s brand at Berkshire’s 2019 annual meeting.
“It’s a fantastic story, and I’m glad we own [so much] of it,” he said.
Of course he’s glad: A roughly 1,000% total return over the past quarter-century would make most investors glow.
- Shares held: 400,000,000
- Holding value: $25,444,000,000
- Percent of portfolio: 8.51%
Buffett, an unabashed fan of Cherry Coke, started investing in Coca-Cola stock soon after the stock market crash of 1987.
In his 1988 letter to Berkshire shareholders, Buffett said he expected to hold on to the stock “for a long time.”
Three decades later, he has proven true to his word. Berkshire is KO’s largest shareholder with 9.3% of its shares outstanding, and Coca-Cola remains among the most iconic of Buffett stocks.
Coca-Cola made a brief appearance as a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average in the 1930s.
Shares were added back to the Dow in 1987, and they’ve remained a stalwart member ever since.
Coca-Cola’s stock performance was a lifesaver in an otherwise terrible 2022.
Shares generated a total return of 10.6% for the 52 weeks vs. a total return of -18.1% for the S&P 500.
KO has also been an income investor’s dream.
The beverage maker has increased its dividend annually for 60 consecutive years.
- Shares held: 165,359,318
- Holding value: $29,252,521,137
- Percent of portfolio: 9.78%
Chevron (CVX(opens in new tab)) is the only energy stock left in the Dow Jones Industrial Average after Exxon Mobil was removed in 2020.
And for a while, Buffett couldn’t seem to make up his mind about whether he liked or loathed CVX.
Now, however, it’s abundantly clear that Buffett is a huge fan of the integrated energy major.
Berkshire Hathaway initiated a position of more than 48 million shares in the fourth quarter of 2020 valued at $4.1 billion.
Although energy prices weren’t expected to make huge moves in 2021 after a considerable rebound in late 2020, the outlook for oil and gas was much improved and expected to get better as the global economy recovered.
Chevron specifically was well positioned, as it took advantage of the worst of the industry’s woes in July 2020 by acquiring Noble Energy in a $5 billion all-stock transaction.
The company’s scale, asset quality and reserves made it one of the healthiest players in an industry where a lot of players were on injured reserve.
Also noteworthy was its standing as a Dividend Aristocrat, with more than 35 years of uninterrupted dividend growth currently under its belt.
And yet, Buffett reversed course in Q1 2021.
In addition to booting Suncor Energy from the portfolio, Berkshire jettisoned a little more than half of its CVX position, unloading 24.8 million shares.
He followed that up by dropping another 550,000 or so shares, or 2%, in Q2, to bring the position down to 23.1 million shares.
Buffett, however, has come back with vengeance.
He upped Berkshire’s Chevron stake by 24% in the third quarter of 2021, by 33% in the fourth quarter, by more than 300% in Q1 2022 and by 1% in the second quarter of this year.
And he hasn’t stopped yet.
Buffett raised BRK.B’s CVX stake by another 2%, or almost 4 million shares, in the third quarter of 2022.
CVX now makes up nearly 10% of the Berkshire portfolio and is a top-three position.
Bank of America
- Shares held: 1,010,100,606
- Holding value: $33,454,532,071
- Percent of portfolio: 11.19%
Buffett spent most of 2020 and 2021 hacking and slashing at his various bank-stock holdings.
But he remained as committed as ever to Bank of America.
Buffett’s interest in BAC dates back to 2011, when he swooped in to shore up the firm’s finances in the wake of the Great Recession.
In exchange for investing $5 billion in the firm, Berkshire received preferred stock yielding 6% and warrants giving Berkshire the right to purchase BofA common stock at a steep discount. (The Oracle of Omaha exercised those warrants in 2017, netting a $12 billion profit in the process.)
Warren Buffett let go of 2.2 million BAC shares in Q4 2019, but that represented a mere 0.2% reduction.
And while he cut heavily into various bank holdings in 2020, he actually added to Berkshire’s already large position in Q3 of that year by snapping up more than 85 million shares.
The stake in BAC, worth $33.4 billion as of the end of Q4 2022, accounts for 11.2% of the holding company’s total portfolio value.
Meanwhile, Berkshire is Bank of America’s largest shareholder, at 12.6% of its shares outstanding.
- Shares held: 894,802,319
- Holding value: $116,305,043,218
- Percent of portfolio: 38.9%
Warren Buffett’s love affair with Apple (AAPL(opens in new tab)) continues.
During the first quarter of 2022, Berkshire used a brief dip to tack on another 3.8 million shares, or 0.3%, to its already massive holdings.
And honestly, Buffett wishes it had been even more.
“Unfortunately the stock went back up, so I stopped,” he told CNBC following the annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting. “Otherwise who knows how much we would have bought?”
Happily for Berkshire shareholders, Buffett got a second chance in Q2, picking up another 3.9 million shares in AAPL when the price slumped.
In Q4 2022, Berkshire’s stake in Apple rose by 333,856 shares, or less than 1%.
But Warren Buffett didn’t go shopping for more of his favourite stock.
Rather, the Apple stock became Berkshire’s property once it acquired Alleghany insurance company.
Buffett has said that:
“I think of [Apple] as our third business.”
It might as well be.
The tech giant represents more than 40% of the assets in the Berkshire Hathaway equity portfolio.
And Berkshire is Apple’s third-largest investor with an 895 million-share stake representing about 5.6% of its shares outstanding.
Only Vanguard and BlackRock – giants of the passively managed index fund universe – hold more Apple stock.
The Oracle of Omaha has only occasionally dabbled in technology stocks.
But he bought Apple with two fists, and he’s more than happy to discuss his ardor for AAPL.
As he has said more than once on CNBC, he loves the power of Apple’s brand and its ecosystem of products (such as the iPhone and iPad) and services (such as Apple Pay and iTunes).
“It’s probably the best business I know in the world,” Buffett said a year ago. “And that is a bigger commitment that we have in any business except insurance and the railroad.”
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