Warren Buffett might have slowed his stock purchases of late to focus on providing financing to certain distressed companies, but that doesn't mean the Oracle of Omaha's portfolio has been stagnant. Berkshire Hathaway's (BRK.A) equity portfolio rose to $48.95 billion according to an SEC filing, including a new stake in medical instrument and supply company Becton, Dickinson & Co. (BDX).
Berkshire reduced its holdings in auto dealership CarMax (KMX), electrical equipment company Eaton (ETN), health care providers Wellpoint (WLP) and UnitedHealth (UNH), and Home Depot (HD), though holdings in competing home improvement retailer Lowe's (LOW) remained steady. The SEC filing only provides a snapshot of Berkshire's equity positions as of June 30, so it does not include any actions taken since then. Previously, Buffett has also been granted waivers when he is still accumulating a stock, so that his disclosure does not inspire copy-cat buying.
One such subsequent event was Berkshire's sale of some stock held in ratings agency Moody's (MCO) in late July, which brought in more than $200 million for Berkshire, a long-time majority holder of the company's stock. The move called into question the sustainability of the ratings agencies' business, a trait that Buffett has made a fortune off his ability to assess.
In an earnings announcement last week, Berkshire reported that weak results from its non-insurance operations were offset by gains on its financial holdings, as asset prices rallied in the second quarter. The rising stock market also helped to lower the unrealized loss associated with Buffett's widely followed derivative bet.
James Cullen edits and writes at CollegeAnalysts.com. He is the Vice-President of the Boston College Investment Club, which owns KMX, but has no personal position in the stocks mentioned above.