Bill Gates is the richest man in the world with a net worth of over $86 billion in 2017, according to Forbes magazine. He dropped out of Harvard University and turned into a technology entrepreneur founding Microsoft(MSFT) in 1975. Over decades, Gates successfully built it into a major technology company earning himself a fortune in the process.
Gates has since retired from the day to day functioning of Microsoft and focuses his efforts on his philanthropic causes through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. These causes have included producing a malaria vaccine, gun control reform and education reform. The Foundation has a substantial portfolio of investments. Its investment philosophy is to use capital from the Foundation to help businesses create solutions to complex and entrenched problems. The following are some of the Foundation’s most prominent holdings as of December 31, 2016.
Berkshire Hathaway, Inc.
The largest holding in the Foundation’s portfolio is Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. (NYSE: BRK.B). The Foundation holds over 69 million shares of Berkshire Hathaway with a market value of $11.3 billion, as of December end 2016, for a portfolio weighting of over 59%.
Berkshire Hathaway is one of the largest companies in the S&P 500 with a market cap of $410 billion and was ranked fourth in 2016 Fortune 500 rankings. Bill Gates has developed a very close relationship with Warren Buffett since they first met in 1991; Gates serves on the Board of Directors of Berkshire Hathaway. Both investors have signed a pledge to give away a significant portion of their wealth to philanthropic causes.
Waste Management, Inc.
Waste Management, Inc. (NYSE: WM) is the second-largest holding in the Foundation’s portfolio. The Foundation owns over 18.6 million shares with a market value of $1.32 billion, as of December 2016. Waste Management has a weighting of 6.9% in the Foundation’s portfolio.
Waste Management is a provider of waste management and associated environmental services. It further develops and operates waste to energy and landfill gas to energy facilities in the United States. It is the largest waste management company in the country with over 21 million customers. The company has a market cap of over $31.8 billion.
Gates is likely attracted to the company due to its strong dividend and environmental commitment. Waste Management also works with renewable energy, converting natural gas found in landfills into electricty.
Canadian National Railway Company
The third-largest holding in the Foundation’s portfolio is the Canadian National Railway Company (NYSE: CNI). The Foundation has over 17 million shares with a market value of $1.15 billion for a portfolio weighting of 6%.
Canadian National Railway provides integrated transportation services including rail, trucking, freight forwarding and warehousing. The company mainly transports petroleum products, grain and fertilizers, coal, metals and automotive products. It has a market cap of $56 billion. The company saw 2016 revenue at $12.03 billion, a 4.5% decline from the prior year.