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Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Reveals Some Surprise Moves

By Howard Smith – Updated Aug 17, 2020 at 10:23AM

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A recent SEC filing shows that company got out of more than just the airlines in the second quarter.

Warren Buffett is normally known for a fairly passive "buy and hold forever" approach to investing through his Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A 2.63%) (BRK.B 2.82%). But the Oracle of Omaha and his company had an active second quarter during the pandemic. 

Besides selling out of all of its airline holdings, the company's form 13F filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission had some other surprises. In August 2019, Berkshire committed $10 billion to help Occidental Petroleum (OXY 3.29%) finance its ill-timed acquisition of Anadarko Petroleum. The investment consisted of newly issued preferred shares that would pay Berkshire an 8% annual dividend. But Berkshire also started buying Occidental stock in the third quarter of 2019, eventually accumulating about 19 million shares. In a telling reversal, the company reported for the second quarter of 2020 that it has now completely sold out of those shares.

close up of warren buffett

Warren Buffett. Image source: The Motley Fool.

In the six months since the fourth-quarter 2019 ownership of 19 million shares was revealed, the investment has lost Berkshire about a half-billion dollars, as Occidental's share price plummeted from around $40 per share to today's $14. 

The recent 13F filing also revealed a surprising addition to Berkshire's portfolio. It initiated a position of almost 21 million shares in Barrick Gold (GOLD 0.82%), currently worth approximately $630 million. It also increased its holdings of Canadian oil sands producer Suncor Energy (SU 4.50%) by about 28%. 

Besides the previously announced exit from the airline stocks the company held, the recent filing showed Berkshire has either decreased, or sold out of, several financial stocks. 

Howard Smith owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway (B shares). The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Berkshire Hathaway (B shares) and recommends the following options: short September 2020 $200 calls on Berkshire Hathaway (B shares), long January 2021 $200 calls on Berkshire Hathaway (B shares), and short January 2021 $200 puts 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.
$424,180.00 (2.63%) $10,880.00
Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Stock Quote
Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
$280.49 (2.82%) $7.69
Barrick Gold Corporation Stock Quote
Barrick Gold Corporation
$16.05 (0.82%) $0.13
Occidental Petroleum Corporation Stock Quote
Occidental Petroleum Corporation
$66.17 (3.29%) $2.11
Suncor Energy Inc. Stock Quote
Suncor Energy Inc.
$32.02 (4.50%) $1.38

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

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