Warren Buffett sold off $800 million worth of Apple stock last quarter

Andrew Cummings
February 19, 2020

Depending on when Warren Buffett's real estate company sold the 3.7 million Apple stock, it will have earned between $806 million and almost $1.1 billion.

Investors monitor Berkshire's quarterly filings to see where Buffett and his portfolio managers Ted Weschler and Todd Combs, who is also chief executive of Berkshire's Geico vehicle insurer, see value. Apple accounts for 30 percent of Berkshire Hathaway's portfolio.

Buffett's annual shareholder letter - the most anticipated communication from any listed company anywhere, will also be issued and so will more details of the way the share portfolio performed.

Warren Buffett, billionaire investor and CEO of real estate company Berkshire Hathway, has sold over $800 million dollars worth of Apple stock over the last quarter, according to SEC filings published last Friday. Net proceeds from the company's purchases and sales amounted to an estimated $5.2 billion, so we would expect that Berkshire's cash on hand exceeded $135 billion at the end of previous year.

Many smaller chains have fared worse, and Earth Fare, Fairway and Lucky's have sought bankruptcy protection this year.

During the quarter, Berkshire reduced the size of its positions in Wells Fargo (WFC), Goldman Sachs (GS), and Bank of America (BAC). Kroger had invested in Lucky's.

Kroger, in which Berkshire disclosed an 18.94 million share stake, has invested heavily to modernise stores, improve deliveries and boost its online presence to compete with rivals such as Walmart Inc and Amazon.com Inc, the latter also a Berkshire holding. IBM has gone and Wells Fargo is now on the way out.

Berkshire's stake in Wells Fargo fell 15 per cent in the quarter to 323.2 million shares worth about US$17.4 billion, while its stake in Goldman shrank 35 per cent to 12 million shares worth about US$2.8 billion. The firm's total share in Apple is worth around $72 billion.

Buffett is unlikely to sell a significant amount of his Apple shares anytime soon, given his preference for long-term investing over a quick payday.

Buffett's firm has given no explanation for why it sold the Apple holdings.

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