Major Changes Seen in Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway Stock Holdings -- Including Apple

Being the wealthiest man in the world on paper tends to draw some attention. This is why investors and outsiders watch new equity investment positions taken by, or sold by, Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE: BRK-A). The public U.S.-traded equity holdings for the period ended March 31, 2016 were listed as $128.569 billion.

24/7 Wall St. and its founders have followed the portfolio changes from Buffett’s top stock holdings for the better part of two decades now. Below we have added detail on each of the new changes, as well as added color on each of the pertinent holdings or added commentary on the value of those holdings through time.

Buffett’s total equity holdings are heavily concentrated in just a few top holdings: credit card giant American Express Co. (NYSE: AXP), banking giant Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE: WFC), IT-services giant International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM), beverage giant Coca-Cola Co, (NYSE: KO), food-giant Kraft Heinz Co, (NYSE: KHC) and refining giant Phillips 66 (NYSE: PSX). Perhaps the biggest news was a new $1 billion or so stake in Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL).

Now that mergers and divestitures have been completed, Buffett’s top stock holdings in 2016 look massively different from the Buffett stocks at the start of 2015 and at the start of 2014. The combined value of these holdings was $131.855 billion in public equities at the end of 2015.

The total public stock holdings from the full 13F-HR filing do not include the full dollars held in preferred shares. This would otherwise include preferred shares of Dow Chemical Co. (NYSE: DOW) in 2009 and Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC) from back in 2011. It also no longer includes Precision Castparts, now that Buffett’s acquisition of that company has been completed.

American Express Co. (NYSE: AXP) has been listed as the same 151.6 million shares for years now, and it was worth $9.31 billion at the end of March. Buffett has now held on to American Express shares so long he probably worries about the capital gains tax he would pay versus how much Amex shares have fallen from their highs.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) was listed as a NEW POSITION, with 9,811,747 shares worth some $1.069 billion at the end of the first quarter. Apple’s stock price has fallen since, and it is worth noting that a $1 billion stake in Apple is larger than most of the portfolio managers place for their first purchase. Still, this was a stake taken by one of Buffett’s portfolio managers rather than Buffett himself. While added after the disclosure, here are 11 crucial things to consider about Team Buffett’s stake in Apple.

Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KO) was the same stake of 400 million shares, and the value was listed as $18.55 billion. This has remained static for many years and dates back to when he started buying Coca-Cola in the 1980s. Buffett’s cost basis must be nearing zero, if you include the dividends.

International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) was again a larger stake as Buffett himself keeps averaging his cost basis lower. The latest stake is 81.232 million shares, worth some $12.3 billion on March 31. Despite a handy bounce from the lows, IBM has remained a serious thorn in Mr. Buffett’s side – particularly as this stake was his own choosing.

This stake has been raised and raised, but it had been kept static at 81.03 million shares as of December 31. This IBM stake was about 79.5 million shares as of the end of last June, and the end of 2014 position was 76.971 million IBM shares.

Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE: WFC) was the same stake of 479.704 million shares, versus the end of 2015. That stake was grown in the fourth quarter from 470.29 million shares at the end of September. Buffett has grown his stake through time, but at a slower rate in the past year or more.

Increasingly closer to being a 10% holder, Buffett may be at the point that it is harder to grow that stake without more regulatory and more governance issues. The value of the Wells Fargo stake at the end of March was $23.2 billion. History has shown that Buffett would like to just keep buying and buying this stock.

Other key holdings, which are nearly 40 more top stocks, have been tallied below in detail.

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