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Stock Analyst Update

Berkshire a Net Seller of Equities So Far This Year

Few surprises in filing, but sale of Goldman Sachs stake stands out in the first quarter.

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There were few surprises in wide-moat Berkshire Hathaway's (BRK.A)/(BRK.B) first-quarter 13-F filing. In fact, knowing that the insurer eliminated its stakes in the four major airlines--American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines--during early April makes the filing a bit outdated. Of the purchases reported for the first quarter--0.5 million shares of PNC Financial (for an estimated $67 million), 1 million shares of Delta Airlines ($42 million) and 0.2 million shares of United Airlines ($13 million)--the purchase of the bank shares was the only one that still holds true. That said, since the start of the second quarter, Berkshire has reported slightly higher stakes in Bank of New York Mellon and US Bancorp than has been reported in the firm's 13-F filing, as well as confirming the total sale of stakes in American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines.

As for the major sales that were made during the March quarter, the largest was Goldman Sachs (where Berkshire has already worked down 35% of its stake during the fourth quarter of 2019), with the insurer unloading another 10.1 million shares (for an estimated $1.9 billion). This left it with just 1.9 million shares of Goldman (leaving the position 90% smaller than it was a year ago). Other major transactions involved the sale of 1.9 million shares of JPMorgan Chase ($207 million), as well as the elimination of stakes in Travelers Companies ($37 million) and Phillips 66 ($19 million). The insurer also trimmed stakes in DaVita, VeriSign, Sirius XM Radio, Liberty Media SiriusXM, Liberty Global PLC, Synchrony Financial, General Motors, Amazon.com, Axalta Coating Systems, Teva Pharmaceutical, Suncor Energy, Biogen, and Liberty Latin America--all of which seemed to be more moves on the part of Todd Combs and Ted Weschler to either take some profit off the table or derisk parts of their portfolios. Stock sales net of purchases amounted to $1.8 billion during the first quarter.

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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.

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