FRI, APR 08, 2022
Berkshire's buying spree continues with big HP stake
In another major revelation, Berkshire Hathaway disclosed in an SEC filing this week that it has purchased nearly 121 million shares of HP.
At today's close of $38.63 per share, the stake is worth nearly $4.7 billion, making it Berkshire's eleventh largest disclosed holding of a publicly-traded U.S. stock.
With around 11.5% of HP's outstanding shares, Berkshire is now the company's biggest shareholder.
In a companion filing triggered by Berkshire's stake hitting 10%, the company says most of the holding, 109.8 million shares, was purchased at undisclosed prices over an undisclosed period of time ending April 1. The remaining 11.1 million shares were purchased on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of this week at prices ranging from $34.47 to $36.68.
The two filings late Wednesday sent HP shares as high as $41.47 in Thursday's trading before they erased some of that gain.
Did Buffett change his mind?
In its coverage of the HP stake, the Associated Press calls it "another uncharacteristic tech investment" by Buffett, comparing it to his enormous purchases of Apple shares in recent years. (They're currently valued at more than $154 billion and make up 44% of Berkshire's stock portfolio.)
It quotes CFRA Research analyst Cathy Seifert as saying that adding "value tech investments" makes "a lot of sense, in our view, despite Buffett's previous wariness toward the tech space, since it further diversifies the broader Berkshire operating model, currently centered around energy, industrial, consumer and insurance."
And the AP reports that Edward Jones analyst Jim Shanahan sees similarities between HP and other Berkshire investments, including a relatively low price compared to earnings and a strong record of dividends and buybacks.
The AP, along with most of the coverage of the HP stock purchase, specifies that Berkshire didn't say Buffett personally made the decision to buy.
But that's the general assumption, given the size of the investment. In the past, Buffett has said he's generally responsible for anything above $1 billion.
That, however, may have changed. Portfolio managers Todd Combs and Ted Weschler's share of the portfolio has been increasing over the years. In the 2021 letter, Buffett writes that as of the end of the year they had "total authority in respect to $34 billion of investments."
Weschler's DaVita stake is currently worth $4.4 billion, falling just behind HP on Berkshire's list of equities. They both account for around 1.3% of the stock portfolio's value.
We may get a clearer picture of who pulled the trigger on Saturday, April 30 when Buffett answers shareholders questions at the Berkshire annual meeting. The event will be streamed live on CNBC.com.
'Sociopathic grandpa from Omaha'
In what CNBC.com calls Peter Thiel's "latest and boldest public attack on the people he sees as standing in the way of bitcoin's progress," the billionaire venture capitalist called Warren Buffett "enemy number one," describing him as "the sociopathic grandpa from Omaha."
Speaking this week at a bitcoin conference in Miami, Thiel also targeted JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon and BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, calling them part of a "gerontocracy" that must be fought against for "bitcoin to go 10a or 100x from here."
Thiel resigned from Meta's board in February, reportedly so he could concentrate on supporting GOP candidates in the midterms who back Donald Trump's agenda.
He said Buffett invests in a "list of woke companies," and characterized a decision to not invest in bitcoin a "deeply political choice."
Forbes ranks Buffett as world's fifth richest person
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BERKSHIRE'S TOP U.S. STOCK HOLDINGS - Apr 8, 2022
Berkshire's top holdings of disclosed publicly-traded U.S. stocks by market value, based on today's closing prices.
Holdings are as of December 31, 2021 as reported in Berkshire Hathaway’s 13F filing on February 14, 2022, except for Apple, Bank of America, and U.S. Bancorp, which also include shares held as of December 31, 2021 as disclosed in New England Asset Management’s 13F filing on February 14, 2022, and except for Occidental Petroleum, which is as of March 16, 2022.
In addition to U.S. stocks, shares held as of December 31, 2021 of China's BYD, as listed in Buffett's 2021 letter to shareholders, are included. The price of those shares in U.S. trading is used to approximate the current market value of the position. The value of the stake as a percentage of the company's market value is fixed at what was listed as of December 31, 2021 in the letter.
The full list of holdings and current market values is available from CNBC.com's Berkshire Hathaway Portfolio Tracker.
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-- Alex Crippen, Editor, Warren Buffett Watch