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Warren Buffett Cuts Stakes In Financial, Energy, Drug Stocks

Berkshire Hathaway (BRKB) chief Warren Buffett soured on several financial, energy and drug stocks in Q1, which saw overall net selling.




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But the conglomerate picked up more than 4 million shares in insurance brokerage Aon (AON), according to 13F filings tracked by whalewisdom.com. At the same time, Berkshire dumped all its shares in Synchrony Financial (SYF). The company also slashed stakes in Wells Fargo (WFC) by 98% and in Brazilian fintech firm StoneCo (STNE) by 24%.

AON is looking to combine with Willis Towers Watson. Meanwhile, Berkshire opened a position in their mutual rival March & McLennan (MMC) in Q4 2020 and grew it by 23% last quarter.

Also in Q1, Buffett lowered a stake in oil giant Chevron (CVX) by 51% after buying it for the first time in Q4 2020. Berkshire ditched Suncor Energy (SU) entirely after opening a position in Q4 2018.

Among drug stocks, Berkshire cut Merck (MRK) by 37% in Q1, AbbVie (ABBV) by 10% and Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) 6%, after buying all three stocks for the first time as recently as Q3 2020.

The company left positions in top holdings Apple (AAPL) and Bank of America (BAC) unchanged last quarter. It also kept Amazon (AMZN) steady in Q1.


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Class B shares of Berkshire Hathaway closed down 0.5% at 289.22 on the stock market today. AON stock rose 3% late.

Long seen as investor who buys and holds stocks for years and even decades, Buffett has made several buys and sells lately that took investors by surprise.

For instance, Buffett exited Pfizer (PFE) in Q4 2020, after picking up the coronavirus vaccine stock just the prior quarter.

Similarly, the investing legend dumped his entire stake in several airline stocks such as Delta Air Lines (DAL) last year, after making a surprise bet on the sector in 2016.

In 2020, Berkshire’s Buffett also exited bank stocks like JPMorgan Chase (JPM), a holding since 2018, while sinking more than $2 billion into Bank of America (BAC), which was his No. 1 stock by number of shares at the end of Q1.

For many years, Buffett kept clear of tech stocks, saying he didn’t understand their business models.

But he began nibbling at Apple (AAPL) in 2016, Amazon (AMZN) in 2019, and Snowflake (SNOW), a new IPO, in 2020.

At the end of Q1, Apple was the No. 2 Warren Buffett stock by number of shares but No. 1 by market value, worth a whopping $108.36 billion. In fact, Buffett now calls Apple stock one of the “family jewels.”

In another big investing shift, Buffett poured a record $27.4 billion into repurchasing Berkshire Hathaway stock last year. Berkshire bought back another $6.6 billion of its own shares in Q1, so that the ultimate Warren Buffett stock appears, for now, to be Berkshire Hathaway.

Berkshire had long been leery of splurging on stock buybacks before loosening repurchase rules in 2018.

Find Aparna Narayanan on Twitter at @IBD_Aparna.

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