At The Motley Fool, we understand that it often pays to zig when Wall Street zags, but that doesn't mean we don't pay attention to what leading fund managers are buying and selling. And funds that aren't always in lockstep with the broader market can be a particularly valuable source of insight.
Every quarter, fund managers overseeing more than $100 million must disclose their quarter-end holdings publicly by filing Securities and Exchange Commission Form 13-F. The form lists all U.S.-traded securities the manager held at the end of the quarter. Although the form doesn't disclose the manager's short positions or intra-quarter trades, it can shine a bright light on his or her "long" stock bets.
The big picture
Warren Buffett is a familiar name to anyone who follows the investment world, with his Berkshire Hathaway
Berkshire Hathaway's stock portfolio totaled about $66 billion in value as of Dec. 31, up 12% over just last quarter. The company's biggest holdings range from familiar longtime positions such as Coca-Cola and Wells Fargo to newer names, including IBM
Before we delve into changes in the portfolio, it's important to note that the collection of stocks and its management is not handled entirely by Mr. Buffett. For many years, Lou Simpson managed the investments of Berkshire subsidiary Geico, and now there are two newcomers in the fold, one or both of whom may end up succeeding Buffett at the company's investment helm. They're Todd Combs and Ted Weschler, and some of Berkshire's investment moves reflect their thinking.
So what does Berkshire's latest 13-F filing tell us? Here are a few interesting details:
A new holding is dialysis service provider DaVita
Berkshire's stakes in IBM and Intel increased by 11% and 23%, respectively, though the IBM position is far larger, at $11.8 billion, versus less than $300 million for Intel. Still, it's big news to see such technology companies in the portfolio at all, as Buffett has long avoided them, explaining that it's hard for him to know how they will be doing in 10 years. But he highlighted IBM's five-year plan as an outstanding roadmap for him as an investor.
Berkshire sold out of its position in ExxonMobil
The number of Johnson & Johnson
We should never blindly copy any investor's moves, no matter how talented the investor. But it can be useful to keep an eye on what smart folks are doing. And 13-F forms can be great places to find intriguing candidates for our portfolios.
Looking for promising investments? Check out our free special report -- "The Stocks Only the Smartest Investors Are Buying" -- and learn which stocks are appealing to Warren Buffett and other great investors.