(ticker: BRK.B) gave a surprisingly small amount of shares to its large equity portfolio during the fourth quarter's decline in the market.
Based on a Berkshire securities deposit Thursday Barron's calculates the company's net purchase of shares in the quarter was less than $ 1 billion, compared to net purchases of more than $ 12 billion in the third quarter. The Berkshire equity portfolio amounted to $ 183 billion at the end of the year.
Berkshire's share purchase is closely observed as an indication of CEO Warren Buffet's view of the stock market and the individual shares.
was 14% in the fourth quarter.
Two prolonged Berkshire investors told Barron's that they expected larger equity purchases given the company's large cash balance of over $ 100 billion and continued inability to land a large acquisition that would put the money into use.
Berkshire bought more than $ 13 billion of bank deposits in the third quarter.
The relatively small share purchases in connection with a weak market background have asked that Berkshire could aggressively buy back its own shares. It repurchased approximately $ 900 million in the third quarter – first quarter of the buy-back program.
The extent of the repurchases will be clear when Berkshire reports its revenues. The results are expected February 23.
Berkshire largest stock purchase in the fourth quarter was
(JPM), about $ 1.5 billion;
(GM), at $ 700 million; and
Bank of America
(BAC), at $ 500 million.
Berkshire trimmed its
(AAPL), the largest stock position, with nearly three million shares at 249.6 million shares. Buffett is still a big Apple fan, and Berkshire has about 5% of the company – a $ 39 billion stake.
Berkshire sold a $ 2.1 billion stake in
(ORCL) in the quarter and trimmed its owner
(WFC) with about $ 750 million. Wells Fargo sales seem to have reflected a continued effort by Berkshire to hold its holdings under a 10% regulatory cap that Wells Fargo continues to buy back shares. Berkshire has about 9% of Wells Fargo and Bank of America and has 8% stake
Bank of New York Mellon
The finance represents the largest sector weighting in the Berkshire portfolio of more than 40%.
The Class A share in Berkshire was up $ 2,745 at $ 307,500, for a 0.9% gain on Friday morning.
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