Bill Gates
Source: Getty

How Bill Gates Boosts His Billions—Investment Portfolio Explained

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May. 10 2021, Updated 12:49 p.m. ET

Bill Gates, who has been one of the world’s wealthiest people for years, currently has an estimated net worth of $134.1 billion, according to Wealth-X. With the news of his split from Melinda Gates, people are curious about the couple's investments and how their wealth will be divided.  

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Gates has an extensive investment portfolio including major holdings in Microsoft, the company he founded, and Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett’s massive holding company. CNBC noted that his Microsoft holdings represent about 19.6 percent of his overall net worth, valued at about $26.1 billion.  

Cascade Investment

Gates founded an investment firm, Cascade Investment LLC, which is run by Michael Larson. According to CNBC, Cascade is Gates’s largest asset, where he has shifted most of his Microsoft stock over time. Some of Cascade’s notable investments are AutoNation (AN), IBD 50 member Deere (DE), and Waste Management (WM).  

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bill gates investments
Source: Getty Images

Melinda and Bill Gates

 Other Cascade holdings:

  • Republic Services
  • Diageo
  • Arch Capital Group
  • Otter Tail
  • Vroom
  • Ecolab
  • Fomento Economico Mexicano
  • Canadian National Railway
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According to The Wall Street Journal, Gates transferred about $2.4 billion worth of stocks to Melinda this week. The transaction included shares of Coca-Cola Femsa SAB and Grupo Televisa SA. The transaction also included some of Cascade’s holdings—AutoNation Inc. and Canadian National Railway Company. 

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation portfolio

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is where Gates puts most of his time and effort these days. The Foundation’s core mission is to give every person a chance at a healthy, productive life.   

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To accomplish the costly goals of the foundation, it holds large amounts of shares in some of the most profitable companies. Investopedia broke down the foundation’s top stock holdings as of December 2020 (the values of these stocks might have changed since then): 

  • Berkshire Hathaway - 50 million shares worth over $11 billion
  • Waste Management - over 18.6 million shares worth $2.12 billion
  • Canadian National Railway Company - 17.1 million shares worth $1.54 billion
  • Caterpillar Inc. - 11.2 million shares worth $1.66 billion
  • Walmart Inc. - 11.6 million shares worth $1.4 billion
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Gates and Breakthrough Energy Ventures

Gates and other investors founded Breakthrough Energy Ventures to help fund startups developing clean energy solutions. Companies that are working to reduce global emissions from transportation, agriculture, buildings, electricity, and manufacturing might be eligible for investment capital.   

According to Breakthrough Energy, it “encourages the development of new net-zero energy technologies, champions policies that speed innovation from lab to market, and brings together governments, research institutions, private companies, and investors to expand and enhance clean-energy investment.” 

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Part of BEV’s aim is to offer “patient” investing, expecting positive returns over a 20-year period rather than a five-year period, which is common for many startup investors.  

bill and melinda gates foundation
Source: Gates Foundation Facebook

Melinda and Bill Gates

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Bill Gates and philanthropy

Gates has long been known for his philanthropic interests. Warren Buffett worked with Bill and Melinda to co-found The Giving Pledge—an initiative that encourages the world’s wealthiest to give away at least half of their wealth.  

In 1994, Gates founded the William H. Gates Foundation. The Gates Library Foundation, later the Gates Learning Foundation, started in 1997. Then in 2000, the two foundations merged to become the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation—the top vehicle for his giving endeavors.  

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