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Berkshire Hathaway’s Q1 13F: Buffett Is on a Selling Spree


May. 18 2020, Published 11:09 a.m. ET

  • Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.B) released its first-quarter 13F on May 15 after the markets closed. Chairman Warren Buffett has been on a selling spree despite the crash in US stock markets.
  • Berkshire Hathaway’s cash holdings swelled to $137 billion at the end of the first quarter compared to $128 billion at the end of the fourth quarter of 2019.
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Berkshire Hathaway’s Q1 13F

Berkshire Hathaway has released its first-quarter 13F. The filing shows the buying and selling activity for asset managers. If anything, Buffett has been on a selling spree. The company has exited Phillips 66 (NYSE:PSX) and Travelers Companies. Berkshire Hathaway held small stakes in these companies. Berkshire Hathway had been gradually selling them even before the first quarter.

Warren Buffett exits TRV and PSX

Berkshire Hathaway first took a position in Travelers Companies in the third quarter of 2018. The company sold most of the shares in the fourth quarter of 2019. Notably, that’s a quick exit going by the long-time horizon that Buffett usually looks at. He has been on a selling spree this year. For Phillips 66, Berkshire Hathaway sold most of the shares in the fourth quarter of 2019. The exit in the first quarter of 2020 was just a formality.

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Warren Buffett sold Goldman Sachs

Buffett also sold most of the company’s holdings in Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS). Berkshire Hathaway’s first-quarter 13F revealed that it sold over 10 million Goldman Sachs shares in the first quarter. Now, the company holds less than 2 million shares. Buffett trimmed the stake in Goldman Sachs by 34% in the fourth quarter as well. He invested in the company at the height of the global financial crisis in 2008.

Surprises in Berkshire Hathaway’s Q1 13F

The biggest surprise in Berkshire Hathaway’s first-quarter 13F was trimming the stake in JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM). Buffett acquired a stake in the bank in the third quarter of 2018. Since then, he has gradually increased the stake. I expected Buffett to add more JPMorgan Chase shares in the first quarter. However, we still don’t know if Buffett or a different investment manager at Berkshire sold the shares.

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No new buys for Buffett

Berkshire’s first-quarter 13F showed that it added some shares of PNC Financial Services. The company took a stake in the third quarter of 2018. Apart from that, there weren’t any major buys. Also, Buffett didn’t add any new shares in the first quarter despite the sharp crash in US stock markets. The last time that Berkshire brought a stake in a new company was in the third quarter of 2019 when it took a stake in RH.

What lies ahead for Berkshire Hathaway’s Q2 13F?

Berkshire Hathaway won’t release its second-quarter 13F for three months. The next 13F will show Buffett exiting all airline shares, which he revealed earlier this month. While Buffett exited airline stocks, some fund managers and retail investors saw an opportunity in the beaten-down sector. To learn more, read Airline Stocks: Warren Buffett Deboards, Others Check-In.


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