Buffett Watch

Warren Buffett Buys Banks, Healthcare, and Dow Jones Shares

Warren Buffet

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway bought some bank shares, increased its existing stakes in Wells Fargo by 11% and by 59% in US Bancorp as of the end of the second quarter on June 30.  For the first time, it also reports a new 8.7 million share stake in Bank of America , worth $425 million.

Health care/consumer products companies also got some attention from Buffett in the second quarter.  Berkshire's Johnson & Johnson stake increased 9.2% to 53.1 million shares,  it added over 5 million shares of Procter & Gamble (an increase of 5.2% from the end of Q1) and Berkshire more than tripled its WellPoint stake from just under 1 million shares to 4.2 million, worth $335 million.  (The Indianapolis Business Journal quotes unspecified investors as speculating that Berkshire "might want to acquire WellPoint outright."  Buffett's increased stake still represents less than 1% of the company.) Buffett also bought heavily into Sanofi-Aventis , more than tripling that stake to 3.5 million shares. 

Also of interest: a new 2.8 million share stake worth about $160 million in Dow Jones , which recently agreed to be acquired by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.  In early June, a union representing Dow Jones employees had reached out to Buffett, hoping he'd make a counter-offer to block Murdoch's acquisition plans.

Buffett's reported stake doubled for Nike , the sports footwear company, but that is the result of a 2-for-1 stock split on April 3 and does not represent any real change in his position.

Berkshire's filing does not list any holdings for the freight railroads Union Pacific and Norfolk Southern .  Berkshire says that information has been omitted from the public filing with the permission of the SEC, something it has done in the past to discourage copy-cats.  In May, Berkshire had revealed it had bought 10.5 million shares of Union Pacific and almost 6.4 million shares of Norfolk Southern, and the railroad sector rallied at that time. 

Berkshire reduced its stake in American Express spin-off Ameriprise Financial   and completely eliminated its 1.2 million H&R Block shares, continuing the trend we saw in the first quarter.  Back in April, Berkshire had revealed its cut its H&R Block stake by more then two-thirds and chopped its Ameriprise stake by roughly half.

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