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By Dan Culloton | 06-08-2011 08:25 AM

Feinberg: Why We're Trimming Berkshire

There is still value in Berkshire, says Davis/Selected American manager Ken Feinberg, but there are better values elsewhere.

Dan Culloton: Another company that's closely associated with insurance that you own, but you own less of it than you have in recent years, is Berkshire Hathaway. Why do you own less of it now than you did a few years ago and does that have anything to do with recent controversies at the company?

Ken Feinberg: It's a good question, and we have a few portfolio managers at the firm who have their own sleeves, and so people could be making different decisions for different reasons. But from the firm's point of view, I would say that the recent David Sokol controversy really had nothing to do with our continuing trimming of the position.

It used be as high as a 4% holding, and now it's a little bit under 2%, but we have trimmed a lot of companies along the way. Warren Buffett is 80 years old, and Charlie Munger is 87, so the good thing about that is I guess people live a lot longer today, and they are certainly mentally sharp. So you are still in good hands. We all hope for another 10 years or so with Warren and Charlie at the helm or certainly Warren.

So it's not a management issue. I would say that the stock is probably cheaper today than it might have been over the last couple of years, so there is still good value there. I think that there are other companies that are easier to run and that are smaller in size. So some of the selling has been going into funding new positions or strengthening, adding to positions that maybe haven't worked out as well, such as a CVS Caremark, which is now doing better, but when we added to it, it was not doing as well. Bed, Bath & Beyond, which has always been doing well, but had an opportunity on some pressure points. So, it really was just a trade-off between what we liked about Berkshire Hathaway, but what we liked even better about some other companies.

 

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