Warren Buffett Still Selling Procter & Gamble Shares in First Quarter

Procter & Gamble's HQ in Cincinnati, Ohio
Procter & Gamble's HQ in Cincinnati, Ohio

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway continued to sell shares of Procter & Gamble during the first three months of the year. It's likely the sales are part of Buffett's efforts to raise money for his big railroad acquisition.

The company's 10-Q filing with the SEC shows its cost basis for P&G fell to $4.46 billion as of March 31, down $502 million from $4.92 billion as of December 31, 2009.

(The filing also includes details on Berkshire's biggest quarterly profit since 2007. Highlights were released by Buffett at Saturday's annual shareholders meeting.)

In mid-February, Berkshire reported it had sold 8.8 million shares of P&G during last year's fourth quarter, reducing its stake by 9.1 percent to 87.5 million shares.

In his annual letter to shareholders later that month, Buffett says sales of P&G and other stocks, including Johnson & Johnson during 2009 helped pay for Berkshire's now-completed $26 billion purchase of Burlington Northern Santa Fe, along with non-traded securities from Dow Chemical and Swiss Re .

In a live CNBC interview on March 1, Buffett told us:

"Anybody who owns Proctor & Gamble or Johnson & Johnson is going to hold them for 10 years, in my view is going to make a bit of money. And on the other hand, we had to come up with 8 billion of cash. We had to borrow another 8 billion to do Burlington and I wanted to end with 20 billion in cash."

Today's 10-Q from Berkshire lists $25.67 billion in cash and cash equivalents at the end of the first quarter.

We'll get more details on Berkshire's buying and selling of stocks when the company releases its complete Q1 equity portfolio snapshot later this month.

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