Gates Foundation Raises Stakes in KO, MCD

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on Tuesday increased its share stake in heavyweights like Coca Cola, McDonald's and Autonation.

The foundation, which focuses on improving people's health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and poverty, upped its stake in Coca-Cola to 5.7 million shares from 2.7 million, and added a 1 million share stake in Coca-Cola Enterprises .

It also raised its stakes in fast-food giant McDonald's to 6.4 million shares from 4.9 million shares, and auto retailer Autonation to 10.2 million shares as of December 31, 2008, from 7.7 million shares as of September 30, 2008, according to a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission.

The energy sector looked attractive to the foundation as it took a 500,000 share stake in Peabody Energy .

And like most other investors, it shunned financials. The Seattle-based foundation dissolved its stake in AIG and Washington Mutual .

It also dumped shares of Archer Daniels Midland and railroad company Norfolk Southern .

The value of Gates' investments fell by $3 billion, or almost 20 percent, in the fourth quarter as the worst financial crisis in decades and a deepening recession hammered stock prices.

Total investment for the foundation was down to $9.07 billion, as of December 31, 2008 from $11.20 billion as of September 30, 2008.

-- Reported by Reuters, written by