Major Portfolio Changes for Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway

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Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE: BRK-A) have released the official equity holdings of Berkshire Hathaway as of March 31, 2015. For years now, 24/7 Wall St. has released the full list of holdings and we have added color on those positions as they have changed through time.

As we have seen in many announcements, over half of Buffett’s total equity holdings are heavily concentrated in just four top holdings, as follows: Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE: WFC), International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM), Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KO) and American Express Co. (NYSE: AXP).

The prior earnings release showed that Buffett’s top four stocks accounted for a total of 58% of the aggregate fair value at the end of March, down from 59% at the end of 2014. Another issue which was seen in the latest earnings report was that the March 31, 2015 equity position was listed as $113.341 billion, versus $115.529 billion at the end of 2014. This latest 13F filing showed it as being $107.13 billion for the public equities.

What the total public stock holdings from the full 13F-HR filing do not show is the amount of holdings held in preferred shares, nor in the big companies which have gone private. Berkshire Hathaway invested $3 billion in 2009 into preferred shares of Dow Chemical Co. (NYSE: DOW), and it invested $5 billion for Preferred shares and warrants in Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC) in 2011. Buffett has a big stake worth over $11 billion in Heinz as well.

American Express Co. (NYSE: AXP) was again roughly that same number of more than 151 million shares (worth close to $11.8 billion — versus $13.3 billion the prior quarter due to its share price drop). It seems that Warren Buffett doesn’t have to care about an AmEx sell-off, and the unimpressive dividend bump to new investors is actually great news for Buffett considering his low cost basis. The number of American Express shares has been static for years. We issued a Bull & Bear Case for AmEx in 2015 earlier this year, with a projected 7.2% gain.

Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KO) has been static at about 400 million shares for years now, and the earnings report showed it being worth roughly $16.2 billion at the end of March (versus $16.9 billion at the end of 2014). Buffett’s stake in Coca-Cola has remained static for years. With Buffett having first owned Coca-Cola shares starting back in 1988, his adjusted costs basis gets closer and closer to zero each year — if you account for dividend payments without considering the effect of taxes on those dividends. Our own Bull and Bear Case for Coca-Cola in 2015 showed an expected 7.2% gain this year.

International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) was listed as being worth about $12.8 billion at the end of the first quarter. The actual stake was RAISED YET AGAIN and was listed as being just over 79.5 million shares. The end of 2014 position was 76.971 million IBM shares, up from 70.478 million shares in the third quarter of 2014 and 70.173 million last summer. Our Bull and Bear Case for IBM in 2015 showed an expected 7.8% gain this year.

Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE: WFC) was a stake worth $26.7 billion at the end of March. This stake was listed as being roughly 470.3 million shares, SLIGHTLY HIGHER than the 463.458 million shares at the end of 2014. For years it was the case that Buffett would add to his Wells Fargo stake, but that stake was last seen as 9.0% of the outstanding shares without considering Wells Fargo’s share buybacks.

The full list of Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway stock holdings as of March 31, 2015, is as follows: