The large bet in Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE: WFC) has continued to act as an overhang on Berkshire Hathaway despite being Buffet’s favorite bank in the past. Scandals and asset limitations have taken more than just a toll here. The stake of 323.212 million shares on March 30 was 7.88% of the outstanding shares. The stake as of June 30 was down to about 237.58 million shares.
While American Express Co. (NYSE: AXP) and Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KO) are still seeing stock prices that are handily lower than their highs, these stakes have been static for so long that no one seems to even care or remember that Buffett holds them. In fact, these have been held for so long and the cost basis is so low that Buffett would have a fit if he had to sell them, based on the taxes he would have to pay.
We did not track every single position in the Berkshire Hathaway 13F filing, but these are the position changes or key positions that stood out.
Occidental Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: OXY) is a stock that has become the big energy bet, after ties to the Anadarko acquisition financing via perpetual preferred shares. Buffett’s stake grew even larger after Occidental decided to pay Berkshire Hathaway in common shares rather than cash. This position did not show up in the filing in June and may have been sold as the shares were received.
Buffett already had disposed of approximately 84% of the stake in Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS) during the first quarter. The Goldman Sachs stake was gone entirely by the end of June.
Subsequent filings made after the March 30 cutoff date were seen in shares of U.S. Bancorp (NYSE: USB). Nearly 500,000 shares were sold after the 13-F filing’s cutoff date, compared with the 149,590,275 shares held at the end of the first quarter.
Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) was listed as 9,987,460 shares at the end of June, down from over 10.5 million shares in a prior filing. Mastercard Inc. (NYSE: MA) was listed as a stake of 4,564,756 shares as of June 30, down from the 4,934,756 share stake in a prior filing.
Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) was a stake of 21,940,079 shares in June, up from the 18,940,079 shares in March. This was being watched closely because it was a new stake a quarter earlier. There is at least some logic that Berkshire Hathaway might want to own what proved itself to be an essential business during the COVID-19 panic.
Kraft Heinz Co. (NASDAQ: KHC) already was listed as a stake of 325,442,152 shares as of June 30. This saga for Buffett may have become better with a COVID-19 boost in packaged foods buying, but Berkshire Hathaway still has seen billions of dollars lost since this peaked a few years ago.
The airline industry stakes being sold out already was known, but this filing for the June 30 date confirmed that Buffett and his team really did take their airline bets entirely off the table. United Airlines Holdings Inc. (NYSE: UAL) and American Airlines Group Inc. (NASDAQ: AAL) were confirmed to have been removed entirely from the Berkshire Hathaway portfolio. Ditto for Delta Air Lines Inc. (NYSE: DAL) and Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV).
One interesting factoid from the latest earnings report showed that approximately 71% of the total equity holdings were tied up in just four stocks as of June: American Express ($14.4 billion), Apple ($91.5 billion), Bank of America ($22.6 billion) and Coca-Cola ($17.9 billion). That tally was just 60% at the end of 2019, and Apple is the only one of the big four that had seen gains between December 31, 2019, and June 30, 2020.