Dumping other banks, Warren Buffett recommits to Bank of America stocks

Investor Warren Buffett recommitted to his favorite bank stock, Bank of America, during the first quarter while shutting down two other banks as part of a number of moves in Berkshire Hathaway’s stock portfolio.

Berkshire provided a quarterly update on its US holdings on Monday in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Many investors follow the company’s moves closely because of Buffett’s remarkably successful investment record over decades.

Berkshire slightly increased its $179.4 million stake in Bank of America shares while eliminating long-standing stakes in US Bancorp and Bank of New York Mellon. Buffett has canceled a number of bank investments in recent years, but he continues to support Bank of America.

Berkshire also bought nearly 10 million shares of Capital One stock.

The quarterly filings do not specify which investments Buffett made and those of one of the other Berkshire investment managers, but Buffett generally handles the largest Berkshire investments of $1 billion or more. Buffett does not regularly comment on these stock filings.

Berkshire continued to reduce its stake in Activision Blizzard in the quarter, to 49.4 million shares, from 52.7 million at the start of the year. Buffett said he bought this stock as a way to bet that Microsoft’s acquisition of the video game maker will eventually go through. The deal is in doubt after it was rejected by British regulators and US regulators sued to block it even though the European Union approved the Microsoft purchase on Monday.

Berkshire also cut its investment in General Motors to 40 million shares from 50 million in the previous quarter.

Monday’s report doesn’t include Berkshire’s biggest investment move over the past year, selling more than half of its stake in Chinese electric car maker BYD.

These sales, which have generated several billion dollars for Berkshire, are reported separately on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. In this latest investment update, Berkshire owns about 108 million shares of BYD worth approximately $3.3 billion.

As of last August, Berkshire owned 225 million shares, which it bought in 2008 for $232 million. The value of that investment in BYD soared to more than $9.5 billion last summer before Buffett started selling.

One of Berkshire’s other biggest moves this quarter was to sell about 35 million shares of Chevron stock to leave it with 132.4 million shares of the oil producer, but Berkshire had already disclosed the move in its quarterly earnings report.

Buffett remained bullish on oil inventories.

One of Buffett’s largest purchases over the past year has been billions of dollars worth of shares in Occidental Petroleum. Berkshire picked up another 17.4 million shares during the quarter, as I reported earlier, controlling roughly 24 percent of the oil producer’s shares or about 211.7 million shares.

Berkshire already has warrants for 83.9 million shares of another Occidental company, but Buffett told shareholders at Berkshire’s annual meeting earlier this month that he had no plans to try to buy the entire company.

Berkshire’s largest single investment in Apple stock remained substantially unchanged at 915.6 million shares. The Omaha, Nebraska-based conglomerate has bought 16.5 million shares of HP Inc. to give it nearly 121 million shares of the printer maker.

Berkshire disposed of all of its remaining 8.3 million shares in the Taiwanese chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor. Just last fall, Buffett bought 60 million shares in that company, but he says he quickly reconsidered that investment based on geopolitical concerns about China.

In addition to investments, Berkshire owns dozens of companies outright, including Geico insurance, BNSF railroads, several large facilities, and a variety of manufacturing and retail businesses such as Precision Castparts, See’s Candy, and NetJets.

(Only the title and image for this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard team; the rest of the content is generated automatically from a shared feed.)