Warren Buffett Resumes Burlington Northern Stock Buys, Adding to Stake Every Day This Week


Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway is once again adding to its stake in Burlington Northern Santa Fe after taking a break for the last few months.

A filing with the SECminutes ago reveals purchases of Burlington stock today, yesterday and Tuesday. Earlier today, Berkshire disclosed a small purchase on Monday. So, every day of the week so far, Buffett has bought some Burlington.

They are the first disclosed purchasessince a string of buys that began last spring and ended in October.

The largest purchase came yesterday (Wednesday): 435,700 shares at $77.12 each. That's also the lowest price of the three most recent buys, but above Monday's $76.55. Many of last year's disclosed purchases were in the neighborhood of $80 a share.

Berkshire Hathaway's Burlington Northern Buys This Week

Shares Acquired
Total Price
Monday, January 7 29,600 $76.55 $2,265,880
Tuesday, January 8 240,000 $77.89 $18,693,600
Wednesday, January 9 435,700 $77.12 $33,601,184
Thursday, January 10 46,100 $77.78 $3,585,658
TOTAL 751,400 $58,146,322
Source: SEC Filings

The stock had been trading in the low to mid-80s since last September, until they tumbled 3.6 percent on January 4, taking the stock into the high-70s. That lower price appears to have prompted Buffett to add to his stake.

As Buffett told our Becky Quick last month, "If they reduce the price of hamburgers at McDonald's today I feel terrific. Now I don't go back and think, gee, I paid a little more yesterday. I think I'm going to be buying them cheaper today."

Current price:

In total, Berkshire paid just over $58 million for about 750,000 shares over the past four days, bringing its stake up to 61,580,218 shares. That's just under 17.6 percent of Burlington's outstanding shares.

Buffett also bought substantial stakes in Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific, but filings indicate he was selling most of those shares last year as he was buying Burlington. That's an indication he's a fan of Burlington, and doesn't necessarily like the entire freight railroad sector.

Berkshire Hathaway's Railroad Stakes

As of ..
March 31, 2007
Sept. 30, 2007
Pct. Change
Norfolk Southern 6,362,800 1,933,000 - 69.6%
Union Pacific 10,513,100 4,453,000 - 57.6%
For comparison ...
Burlington Northern 34,647,376 52,981,000 + 52.9%
Source: Berkshire Hathaway SEC Filings

Since September, of course, we know that Berkshire has increased its Burlington holdings to over 61 million shares. We'll probably get the next look at the size of its Norfolk and Union Pacific stakes when Berkshire releases its portfolio holdings as of the end of December. That filing should come next month.

Questions? Comments? Email me at buffettwatch@cnbc.com