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Buffett's firm adds to Wells Fargo stake, cuts J&J

Buffett's firm adds to Wells Fargo stake, cuts J&J

February 15th, 2012 by JOSH FUNK, AP Business Writer in News

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Warren Buffett's company boosted its already sizeable stake in Wells Fargo & Co. last year and sold shares of Johnson & Johnson and Kraft Foods, according to documents the company filed Tuesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. revealed a number of adjustments in its $66.2 billion stock portfolio during the fourth quarter.

It purchased 46.6 million Wells Fargo shares during the fourth quarter to give it 408 million shares and control of 7.7 percent of the banking giant, a stake worth $12.41 billion at the close of business Tuesday.

Berkshire cut its stake in Johnson & Johnson to 29 million shares at year end from 37.4 million in the previous quarter. The smaller stake was worth $1.87 billion Tuesday.

Berkshire continued trimming its Kraft Foods stake to 87 million shares, down from 89.7 million in the third quarter. Two years ago, Berkshire owned 138.3 million shares, or 9.4 percent of Kraft's stock, its current stake amounts to 4.9 percent of Kraft, worth about $3.35 billion Tuesday.

By the end of 2011, Berkshire had picked up new investments of 1.7 million shares in Liberty Media Corp. and 2.7 million shares in kidney dialysis firm DaVita Inc. And it sold 421,800 shares of Exxon Mobile, while increasing investments in CVS Caremark, DirectTV, General Dynamics Corp., Intel and Visa.

It's difficult to know for certain who at Berkshire made the investment decisions detailed in Tuesday's filing because it doesn't differentiate investments Buffett makes. Berkshire officials did not immediately respond to a message Tuesday, and they don't typically comment on such filings.

But many of the changes appear to be the work of Berkshire's new investment manager Todd Combs because Buffett has said he doesn't typically make investments worth less than $300 million.

Combs, who came to Berkshire last year, manages between $1 billion and $3 billion. Another investment manager, Ted Weschler, was scheduled to join Combs early this year, but Buffett continues to manage most of Berkshire's investments as the company's chairman and CEO.

Besides investments, Berkshire owns roughly 80 subsidiaries, including clothing, furniture and jewelry firms, but its insurance and utility businesses typically account for more than half of the company's net income. Other major investments include Coca-Cola Co.



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