While the value of its portfolio was unchanged at $108 billion relative to the end of June and it continued told hold 46 stocks, there were still a number of changes to take note of.
The buying and selling
In terms of selling entire positions in companies it formerly held, and making investments in new ones, there were two primary moves made by Berkshire. The biggest was that investors learned Berkshire Hathaway sold its entire $360 million stake in Deere & Company (NYSE:DE), the manufacturer of John Deere tractors.
No explanation from Buffett was given surrounding any of the moves, but as fellow Fool Lee Samaha noted, in the second quarter, thanks to falling crop prices Deere's agricultural segment has begun to struggle. And for the full year 2014, Deere is anticipating its sales will fall by 6% and its net income will drop by 12%, so clearly some challenges await.
While John Deere was just the 31st largest holding of Berkshire Hathaway at the end of June, this may have been enough news for Berkshire to unload its shares.
In addition, investors also learned Berkshire has added a very small $32 million stake in Express Scripts (NASDAQ:ESRX), a pharmacy benefit management firm.
Growing stake in television
Although we are always interested in the new things Buffett is buying, the biggest shift in terms of a raw dollars basis came from the additional shares purchased of DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV) and Charter Communications (NASDAQ:CHTR).
In total nearly $1 billion worth of new investments was made in these two companies, with the biggest gain coming from the 30% additional shares of DirecTV which were purchased, at a cost of over $500 million.
Berkshire first purchased shares of DirecTV in September of 2011, and at the time its position was worth $200 million. It now stands more than 13 times higher than that, with a value of Berkshire's stake in DirecTV now valued at $2.6 billion.
Curiously, in the second quarter, Berkshire actually sold off more than 30% of its stake in DirecTV. So it is almost right back to where it was at the end of March.
In addition, while the total value position is sizably smaller at $750 million, Berkshire more than doubled its stake in Charter Communications, growing its investment by purchasing nearly $400 million worth of new shares.
The continued closing of a chapter
As you can see in the table to the right outlining all the moves made by Berkshire Hathaway, apart from the complete unloading of Deere & Co., Berkshire's biggest sell off came from it continuing to unload its stake in energy and oil company ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP).
In December of 2008 Berkshire's stake in the firm was valued at $7 billion, but the value of the stock began to plummet, and Buffett once noted "the terrible timing of my purchase [of ConocoPhillips] has cost Berkshire several billion dollars."
He has noted the decision to purchase a stake in the firm when he did was one of his biggest mistakes. But soon enough, that decision will be behind him.
The final thing to note
As previously mentioned, it's also important to remember in the case of many of these smaller moves, Buffett may not have been the one who made the final decision on whether or not Berkshire should buy or sell its investment in any of these businesses.
Just this morning the Wall Street Journal reported Todd Combs and Ted Weschler each now manage a portfolio worth roughly $9 billion for Berkshire Hathaway.
But no matter who makes the moves, they're important to watch, because as Buffett noted in this year's letter to shareholders:
In a year in which most equity managers found it impossible to outperform the S&P 500, both Todd Combs and Ted Weschler handily did so. ... I must again confess that their investments outperformed mine. (Charlie says I should add "by a lot.") If such humiliating comparisons continue, I'll have no choice but to cease talking about them.
In most circumstances following the crowd is never a good thing, but if you were ever going to mimic one in the investing world, this one would likely be it.
Patrick Morris owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. The Motley Fool recommends Berkshire Hathaway and Express Scripts. The Motley Fool owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and Express Scripts. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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