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Berkshire Hathaway Sells Some US Bancorp Shares

By Dave Kovaleski – May 14, 2020 at 12:36PM

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But the stock sale was no reflection of Warren Buffett's opinion about the bank -- he's just playing by the SEC's rules.

Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A -0.06%) (BRK.B -0.95%) sold nearly half a million shares of U.S. Bancorp (USB -1.01%) this week.

Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett filed papers on Monday and Tuesday to sell 497,786 shares of the Minneapolis-based bank for a combined $16.3 million. Berkshire Hathaway still holds about 150.5 million shares of US Bancorp and remains its largest investor. Buffett himself owns 884,230 shares in the bank.

US Bancorp was one of Berkshire Hathaway's 15 largest holdings as of the end of 2019, when it held about a 9.7% stake in the company. But in April, US Bancorp's share repurchases tipped Berkshire Hathaway's ownership percentage over 10%. Now, Berkshire Hathaway's stake is back under 10%, so it won't have to immediately report individual trades of the stock, just its quarter-end numbers.

A $100 bill superimposed over a stock screen with red, white, and green lines.

Image source: Getty Images

The bank has taken a beating in this pandemic-sparked downturn. While its stock price was up by more than 2% in late morning trading Thursday, it's off by about 49% year to date.

Berkshire Hathaway's stock price was down fractionally on Thursday morning and is down by about 25% this year to about $170 per share.

Buffett said at the company's annual shareholders meeting earlier this month that banks aren't his primary concern right now: "I think the banks have behaved very well and are in very good shape .... They've built up great reserves there and they've built their own balance sheets, and they are not presently part of Chairman Powell's problem, whereas they were very much part of Chairman Bernanke's problem back in 2008 and '09." 

Dave Kovaleski has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Berkshire Hathaway (B shares) and recommends the following options: long January 2021 $200 calls on Berkshire Hathaway (B shares), short January 2021 $200 puts on Berkshire Hathaway (B shares), and short June 2020 $205 calls on Berkshire Hathaway (B shares). The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Stock Quote
Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
$406,470.00 (-0.06%) $-230.00
Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Stock Quote
Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
$267.02 (-0.95%) $-2.56
U.S. Bancorp Stock Quote
U.S. Bancorp
$40.32 (-1.01%) $0.41

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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