Warren Buffett is well-known for being perhaps the greatest investor of all time, and his stock picks are closely followed by many investors worldwide. Specifically, the stock portfolio of Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK-A) (NYSE:BRK-B) contains more than 40 stock positions in a variety of sizes and industries. Here are the details about Buffett's stocks, and how investors can use this information to help form their own portfolios.
Berkshire Hathaway's stock portfolio
Most "Warren Buffett stocks" are actually held in Berkshire Hathaway's stock portfolio, of which around 20% of the outstanding shares are owned by Buffett.
As of Berkshire's latest SEC filing, the company owned stock in 45 different companies, but it's important to discuss the details behind this number. For one thing, the portfolio is disproportionately weighted toward its largest holdings, and there are some that are rather insignificant by Berkshire's standards. For example, Berkshire's Wells Fargo stake is worth $23.2 billion, while its investment in UPS is worth less than $6 million.
To give you an idea of Berkshire's largest holdings, here are the company's 15 largest stock positions, and the current market value of each:
- Kraft Heinz ($26.3 billion)
- Wells Fargo ($23.2 billion)
- Coca-Cola ($17.7 billion)
- IBM ($11.9 billion)
- American Express ($9.6 billion)
- Phillips 66 ($5.9 billion)
- Wal-Mart ($3.5 billion)
- US Bancorp ($3.5 billion)
- DaVita Healthcare ($2.9 billion)
- Charter Communications ($2.3 billion)
- Moody's ($2.3 billion)
- Deere & Co. ($1.9 billion)
- Goldman Sachs ($1.7 billion)
- General Motors ($1.5 billion)
- USG Corporation ($1.1 billion)
The top holdings are significantly bigger than the rest. In fact, the three largest holdings are worth more than the other 40 combined. So while Berkshire owns shares of 45 companies, much of the portfolio's performance depends on a few large holdings.
In addition, it's important to mention that Buffett doesn't do all of the stock-picking these days. Berkshire has begun to rely more and more on other managers, such as Ted Weschler and Todd Combs, to buy stocks. Actually, Berkshire's recently announced Apple stake was the selection of one of these other managers.
Finally, Warren Buffett has a personal stock portfolio in addition to his holdings through Berkshire, which is relatively small in comparison. On occasion, we'll hear about a stock Buffett bought personally, such as his late-2015 investment in REIT Seritage Growth Properties. However, the majority of Buffett's investments are made through Berkshire.
Wholly owned investments
No discussion of Warren Buffett or Berkshire Hathaway's investments would be complete without mentioning Berkshire's wholly owned subsidiaries. As of this writing, Berkshire's stock portfolio is worth approximately $127 billion, while the company as a whole has a market capitalization of $348 billion, so the bulk of Berkshire's assets are in the form of its subsidiaries.
Berkshire has 61 subsidiary companies in its portfolio, ranging from insurance giants to furniture stores to clothing manufacturers. Just to name a few of the more well-known Berkshire subsidiaries, the company owns:
- BNSF Railroad
- Business Wire
- Clayton Homes
- Fruit of the Loom
- Pampered Chef
- Precision Castparts
Buffett's stocks change regularly
It's also important to be aware that although Buffett is known as a buy-and-hold investor, Berkshire does buy and sell stocks on a pretty regular basis. Many investors follow the company's SEC filings closely in order to track what Buffett buys and sells.
For example, in its most recent SEC filing, which showed the company's stock ownership as of March 31, it was revealed that Berkshire added a new stake in Apple worth nearly $1 billion, and also made significant purchases of IBM, Visa, Phillips 66, and Bank of New York Mellon. The company also unloaded its entire $2.3 billion AT&T stake as well as substantially all of its $4.3 billion Procter & Gamble stake.
Should you follow Buffett's moves?
While it can certainly be interesting to keep track of what Buffett and other billionaire investors are buying and selling, it's never a smart idea to jump into a stock just because someone else does -- even if that someone else is the Oracle of Omaha.
Having said that, looking at Berkshire Hathaway's stock portfolio can give you plenty of ideas of stocks to investigate further in order to determine their suitability (or lack thereof) for your particular risk tolerance and investment objectives.