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Stock Analyst Update

Berkshire a Net Seller of Equities in Fourth Quarter

The wide-moat firm added to its stake in Occidental Petroleum while whittling its stake in Wells Fargo.

There were few surprises in wide-moat Berkshire Hathaway's (BRK.A)/(BRK.B) fourth-quarter 13-F filing, with the company adding to its stake in Occidental Petroleum (purchasing another 11.5 million shares for an estimated $490 million, well below the exercise price of $62.50 per share attached to the warrants Berkshire received to purchase up to 80 million shares of Occidental's common stock as part of its deal to help finance the oil company's purchase of Anadarko) while also continuing to whittle down its stake in Wells Fargo (selling off close to 15% of its holdings in the bank as part of ongoing moves to keep the insurer’s stake below the 10% bank holding company threshold that would invite increased regulatory oversight).

As for the other purchases during the quarter, Berkshire picked up another 0.5 million shares of Restoration Hardware for an estimated $100 million, another 2.7 million shares of General Motors for an estimated $100 million, and another 4.3 million shares of Suncor Energy for an estimated $135 million. The insurer also made two new-money purchases during the period, picking up 0.6 million shares of Biogen for an estimated $170 million and 18.9 million shares of Kroger for an estimated $520 million.

As for the other sales made during the period, Berkshire once again trimmed its stake in Apple (selling 3.7 million shares for an estimated $950 million), sold off close to 35% of its stake in Goldman Sachs (selling 6.3 million shares for an estimated $1.4 billion), and made small adjustments to its holdings in American Airlines, Bank of New York Mellon, and Bank of America. The insurer also came close to clearing out its small positions in Phillips 66 and The Travelers Companies, both of which we would be surprised to see still in the portfolio at the end of the first quarter. Net proceeds from the company's purchases and sales amounted to an estimated $5.2 billion, so we would expect that Berkshire's cash on hand exceeded $135 billion at the end of last year.

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Greggory Warren does not own (actual or beneficial) shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.