Major Changes Seen in Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway Stock Holdings

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Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE: BRK-A) have released their official equity holdings of Berkshire Hathaway as of September 30, 2015. 24/7 Wall St. has followed this trend for many years now by tracking changes in the full list of equity holdings. We have also added details on these changes and added color on each of the pertinent holdings or added commentary on the value of those holdings through time.

Yet again, over half of Buffett’s total equity holdings are heavily concentrated in just a few top holdings. Berkshire Hathaway’s recent earnings release showed that approximately 58% of the aggregate fair value of all equity holdings was concentrated in just four companies, versus the same 58% in the prior quarter and down marginally from the 59% reported at the end of 2014.

Another issue on the recent balance sheet was that the equity securities figure in the quarterly balance sheet report was $106.1 billion. The newer 13F filing showed this value as being $127.407 billion, largely due to Kraft-Heinz. Many other stakes were changed to make room for the larger stake there, which makes the number of Berkshire Hathaway stock portfolio changes seem much higher than normal.

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE: BRK-B) listed its top four equity holdings as follows: credit card giant American Express Co. (NYSE: AXP) at $11.2 billion, banking giant Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE: WFC) at $25.2 billion, IT-services giant International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) at $11.7 billion and beverage giant Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KO) at $16.0 billion.

The prior 13F filing showed that “confidential information has been omitted from the public Form 13F report and filed separately with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission,” which means that what you see here may be different in reality. We now know that this pertained to Phillips 66 (NYSE: PSX).

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 that 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.

American Express Co. (NYSE: AXP) has remained the same 151.6 million shares for years now. Buffett has held these shares so long he does not have to care about the dropping price, but American Express has suffered handily so far in 2015.

Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KO) was the same number of about 400 million shares that it has been at for years, and Buffett started buying Coca-Cola in the 1980s — so long ago that his cost basis must be nearing zero, if you include the dividends.

International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) was a larger stake yet again, with Buffett buying more shares on IBM’s stock weakness. The stake in IBM is now 81.03 million shares, versus about 79.5 million shares at the end of June. 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.

Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE: WFC) was the same 470.29 million share stake at the end of September as it was at the end of June and of March. Buffett has stalled in aggressive buying in Wells Fargo of late, but the share count has grown massively through time. There is also the notion that Berkshire’s stake is about 9.1% of the entire float. Buffett may be at the point that it is harder to grow that stake without more regulatory and more governance issues.

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AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is listed as a new stake for Berkshire Hathaway, with some 59.32 million shares. This may be new technically, but the reality is that this was tied to the prior DirecTV stake, and AT&T has completed that merger.