Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway sells off key holdings, grows cash reserves

Company News

by Glenn Dyer

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway has abandoned more of its share holdings in some of America's oldest and best-known companies in the three months leading up to September, signaling a further push into cash.

It shed its holdings in three of America's leading industrial companies in the September quarter, selling its stakes in General Motors, Johnson & Johnson, and Procter & Gamble.

Additionally, it trimmed its stake in Amazon.com and sold shares in energy major Chevron, as revealed in the third-quarter report earlier this month.

In a regular fund manager's quarterly filing with the US SEC that detailed its US-listed stock holdings as of September 30, Berkshire reported no holdings in GM, J&J, and P&G, after reporting respective stakes of $848 million, $54 million, and $48 million in June.

The holdings are still dominated by stakes in Apple, Bank of America, Coca-Cola, Amex, Occidental Petroleum, and, to a lesser extent, Chevron.

Berkshire's substantial holdings in five of Japan's major trading houses, led by Mitsubishi and Mitsui, were not included in the filing, which only requires details of US-listed stocks.

Berkshire also sold its $621 million stake in specialty materials company Celanese and its small holdings of food company Mondelez International and United Parcel Service. Its stake in Amazon fell by 5%.

Other third-quarter sales saw Berkshire complete its exit from video game developer Activision Blizzard, recently acquired by Microsoft, and reduce its stake in life insurer Globe Life.

The company also sold around two-thirds of its stake in the Markel Group, an insurance and investment company that some US analysts consider a "mini-Berkshire."

One new position was a tiny $8 million stake in Atlanta Braves Holdings, which indirectly controls the Major League Baseball team and The Battery Atlanta, a mixed-use development next to the Braves' Truist Park in Atlanta.

The Braves had been split off from Liberty Media, another Berkshire investment, in July. Liberty and the Braves company are controlled by US media billionaire John Malone.

Berkshire's equity portfolio totaled $318.6 billion as of September 30, down from more than $340 billion at the end of June.

Berkshire sold $7 billion worth of stocks, including some of its significant investment in Chevron, and bought just $1.7 billion in the third quarter, a down period for its stock holdings led by Apple, whose share price fell by 12%.

For all of 2023, Berkshire has sold $23.6 billion more stocks than it has bought.

The net sales contributed to Berkshire's record cash hoard, which is about the same size as its $156.8 billion Apple stake. Apple shares are up nearly 9% since September 30.

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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