Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway sold a net $1 billion of stock and slowed buybacks in the 2nd quarter

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Warren Buffett.

  • Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway sold less stock and trimmed share buybacks last quarter.
  • The investor’s company sold a net $1.1 billion of equities, down from $3.9 billion in the first quarter.
  • Berkshire spent $6 billion on buybacks, down from $6.6 billion in the previous quarter.
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Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway was a net seller of stocks and pared its share buybacks in the second quarter, suggesting the billionaire investor’s company struggled to find many bargains in the period.

Buffett’s conglomerate – which owns businesses such as Geico and See’s Candies, and holds multibillion-dollar stakes in Apple, Coca-Cola, and other public companies – reported a 22% increase in revenue to about $69 billion in the three months to June 30. Operating earnings, which exclude investment gains and losses, were $6.7 billion versus a loss of $5.4 billion in the same period of 2020.

Berkshire sold a net $1.1 billion of equities last quarter, as it bought $1 billion of stock and disposed of $2.1 billion worth in the period. That’s a reduction from net stock sales of $3.9 billion in the first quarter, but the company still appears to be concentrating its holdings. Berkshire will disclose its US stock portfolio as of the end of June in a SEC filing later this month.

Buffett’s company spent $6 billion on share buybacks last quarter, down from $6.6 billion in the first quarter, and about $9 billion in both the third and fourth quarters of 2020. However, it ramped up its stock repurchases sharply in June compared to April and May.

Berkshire boasted $144 billion of cash and short-term investments at the end of June, up from $141 billion (including payables for Treasury purchases) three months earlier. Buffett said in May that he was willing to deploy about $80 billion of Berkshire’s cash pile, but he has struggled to find compelling investments over the past year with stocks at close to record highs, private equity firms and SPACs driving up the price of acquisitions, and Berkshire’s rising stock price making buybacks less attractive.

Against that backdrop, Buffett and his team have cast a wider net over the past 12 months, investing in technology companies such as cloud-data platform Snowflake and Brazilian fintech Nubank, a quintet of Japanese trading companies, and a basket of pharmaceutical companies.

However, Berkshire has also concentrated its portfolio, exiting positions in JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, the “Big Four” US airlines, and several other stocks since the pandemic tanked markets in spring 2020.

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