Categories: Business News

Berkshire Cuts Bank Holdings, Takes Position in Gold

  • Berkshire Hathaway cut stakes in several banks and financial firms.
  • Maintains its large position in Bank of America.
  • Berkshire also bought shares of Barrick Gold Corp.

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK.A, BRK.B) filed its SEC Form 13F for Q2 2020 on Aug. 14, indicating reduced holdings of banking and financial stocks, while taking a $564 million position in Barrick Gold Corp. (GOLD). The latter purchase surprised many observers, since Berkshire Chair and CEO Warren Buffett has derided investing in gold. “The magical metal was no match for the American mettle,” he wrote in Feb. 2019, comparing the long-term performance of gold and the S&P 500 Index.

Key Takeaways

  • Berkshire Hathaway filed its latest Form 13F on Aug. 14, 2020.
  • Berkshire has exited airlines, Goldman Sachs, and Occidental Petroleum.
  • Increased positions include the Store Capital REIT, grocery chain Kroger, and Canadian oil and gas company Suncor Energy.

Reduced Banking and Financial Services Exposure

Comparing 13F filings for Q2 2020 and Q1 2020 reveals that Berkshire cut its holdings of several banking and financial services stocks. Among these were, with the new share holdings and values as of the end of Q2:

  • Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC): down by 85.6 million shares, or 26%, to 237.6 million shares ($6.1 billion).
  • JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM): down by 35.5 million shares, or 62%, to 22.2 million shares ($2.1 billion).
  • PNC Financial Services Group (PNC): down by 3.85 million shares, or 42%, to 5.35 million shares ($563 million). In Q1 2020, Berkshire had increased its holdings of PNC.
  • M&T Bank Corp. (MTB): down by 846 thousand shares, or 16%, to 4.54 million shares ($472 million).
  • Bank of New York Mellon Corp. (BNY): down by 7.4 million shares, or 9%, to 72.4 million shares ($2.8 billion).
  • US Bancorp (USB): down by 10.5 million shares, or 7%, to 132 million shares ($4.9 billion).
  • Visa Inc. (V): down by 575 thousand shares, or 5%, to 10 million shares ($1.9 billion).
  • Mastercard Inc. (MA): down by 370 thousand shares, or 7%, to 4.6 million shares ($1.3 billion).
  • Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS): down by 1.9 million shares, or 100%, after exiting most of this position in Q1 2020.

Bullish on Bank of America

Berkshire maintained a 925 million share stake in Bank of America Corp. (BAC).  Valued at $22.0 billion as of the end of Q2 2020, this remains Berkshire’s second-largest equity position behind Apple Inc. (AAPL), at $89.4 billion.

Other Notable Moves

After financing the acquisition of Anadarko Petroleum by Occidental Petroleum Corp. (OXY), Berkshire eventually received 18.9 million common shares of Occidental, worth $219 million as of the end of Q1 2020. This position was sold in Q2 2020.

During Berkshire’s annual meeting in May, Buffett announced that they had exited their holdings of four major U.S. airlines, confirmed by the Q2 Form 13F. 

For the second consecutive quarter, Berkshire trimmed holdings of satellite radio service Sirius XM Holdings Inc. (SIRI). This position is now 50 million shares, down by 62% from 132 million at the end of Q1 2020, and worth $264 million at the end of Q2 2020. 

Berkshire increased its holdings of REIT Store Capital Corp. (BIG), grocery chain Kroger Co. (KR), and Canadian oil and gas company Suncor Energy Inc. (They are) to, respectively, $581 million, $743 million, and $324 million, as of the end of Q2 2020.

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