Buffett’s Berkshire trims Kraft, doubles J&J

By Associated Press
Posted Aug. 17, 2010 at 6:29 a.m.

Warren Buffett’s company has partially rebuilt the stake in Johnson & Johnson he reduced over the past two years to raise cash for other investments, and Berkshire Hathaway Inc. boosted its investment in Wal-Mart Stores Inc. during the second quarter. Berkshire detailed its $46.4 billion U.S. stock holdings Monday in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The document revealed several changes in the Omaha-based company’s portfolio between March 31 and the end of June, including decreases in Berkshire’s holdings in Kraft Foods, ConocoPhillips, Procter & Gamble and M&T Bank. Berkshire also increased its stakes in Becton Dickinson & Co., Nalco Holding Co. and Sanofi Aventis.

Berkshire also revealed a 4.4 million-share stake in Fiserv Inc. That new investment in the Brookfield, Wis.-based information management and payment processing company was worth roughly $200 million at the end of June.

But the biggest change came in Berkshire’s J&J stake, which grew to 41.3 million shares at the end of June. That’s up from 23.9 million shares in March. In 2008 and 2009, Buffett sold off some of Berkshire’s Johnson & Johnson stock to help pay for more attractive investments.

Berkshire held 64.3 million shares of New Brunswick, N.J.-based Johnson & Johnson at the end of 2007. Buffett, who is Berkshire’s CEO and chairman, has said he sold some stock in the drug and medical products maker in 2008 to free up capital for Buffett’s $14.5 billion fixed income investments in Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and General Electric Co.

Later in 2009, Buffett again sold some J&J stock to help raise cash for Berkshire’s $26.7 billion acquisition of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad.

Berkshire officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday, but they don’t typically comment on the company’s stock holdings beyond what it is legally required disclose.

Berkshire added 4.2 million Wal-Mart shares during the quarter to give it 38.1 million shares of the discount retailer.

Between March 31 and June 30, Berkshire also made several other notable moves, including:

— Selling 1.5 million shares of Kraft, leaving 105.2 million shares. Berkshire sold 30 million Kraft shares earlier this year after Buffett criticized the company for overpaying when it acquired British candy maker Cadbury for $19.5 billion.

— Selling 5.1 million shares of ConocoPhillips and reducing Berkshire’s stake to 29.1 million shares. Buffett has said he made a mistake in 2008 when he bought a large amount of ConocoPhillips stock, when oil and gas prices were near their peak.

— Unloading more than 1 million shares of Procter & Gamble stock. But Berkshire kept 78.1 million shares.

— Reducing its longtime holding in M&T Bank by 198,555 shares to 5.4 million shares.

— Buying 145,761 shares of medical device maker Becton Dickinson to give Berkshire 1.9 million shares.

— Adding 150,000 shares of Nalco Holding Co. to create a 9.15 million share stake.

— Buying 159,742 shares of French drug maker Sanofi-Aventis to give it 4.1 million shares.

Monday’s filing does not differentiate between investments Berkshire makes, investments any of roughly 80 subsidiaries make, or investments Buffett himself makes.

Berkshire owns clothing, insurance, furniture, utility, jewelry and corporate jet companies. Berkshire also has big investments in companies including Coca-Cola Co. and Wells Fargo & Co.

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