Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A, BRK.B) is a multibillion-dollar holding company led by Warren Buffett. Bolstered by its insurance businesses, including GEICO, Berkshire has created room to invest in other industries such as railroads, clothing, and jewelry. Berkshire Hathaway shareholders have been rewarded heavily throughout the company's history, with shares consistently trading at over $300,000. As of Jan. 12, 2020, class A shares traded at over $340,000 per share.

In 2018, Berkshire Hathaway reported it granted top employees more flexibility to spend cash by repurchasing shares. That means CEO Warren Buffett and vice chairman Charlie Munger can now authorize buybacks when both see the repurchase price is below Berkshire’s intrinsic value.

Key Takeaways

  • Berkshire Hathaway's class A shares have traded at or near $300,000 per share for the last two years.
  • Fidelity Management and Research Company is the top institutional holder of the company's class A shares as of Sept. 30, 2019.
  • Capital World Investors, First Manhattan, and Gardner Russo & Gardner make up the second-, third-, and fourth-largest holders of class A shares, respectively.

Berkshire released its third-quarter 2019 earnings in November 2019. The multinational conglomerate reported operating profits of $16.5 billion for that quarter, compared to $18.5 billion over the same period last year. Here's a look at the top institutional shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway class A stock.

1. Fidelity Management and Research Company

Fidelity Management and Research Company (FMR), also known as Fidelity Investments, is the largest institutional holder of Berkshire's class A stock with 30,242 shares as of Sept. 30, 2019. Fidelity holds shares of Berkshire Hathaway through its various funds, with the firm's class A shares representing 1.9% of Berkshire.

Fidelity Management and Research Company is a privately owned subsidiary of investment management company Fidelity. Headquartered in Boston, Mass., Fidelity is one of the largest asset managers in the world, with nearly $2.5 trillion in assets under management as of March 2018. The firm is currently led by president and chief executive officer Abigail Johnson.

FMR has three fund divisions: Equity, high-income, and fixed-income.

2. Capital World Investors

Headquartered in Los Angeles, Capital World Investors is a subsidiary of Capital Research and Management Company. It is the second-largest institutional shareholder of Berkshire class A stock with 23,464 shares as of Sept. 30, 2019. These shares represent 1.44% of Berkshire Hathaway's class A total shares.

Capital is a privately owned investment manager. Through in-house research and market analysis, the firm manages a diversified portfolio of investments including the U.S. and international fixed-income securities, bonds, loan participations, mortgage-backed securities, and municipal bonds. Capital Research and Management Company is a subsidiary of Capital Group Companies, which manages the American Funds line of mutual funds.

$1.9 trillion

Capital World Investors' estimated assets under management.

3. First Manhattan Company

This New York City-based firm is the third-largest institutional holder of class A shares of Berkshire Hathaway. As of Dec. 30, 2018, First Manhattan held 14,328 shares, which represents 1.98% of the company's outstanding class A stock.

First Manhattan is a private firm with more than $16 billion in assets under management, according to its website. Founded in 1964, it provides a variety of services including investment and retirement account management for individuals, partnerships, trusts, and institutional clients. The firm focuses on building stock portfolios, with a goal of capital appreciation.

4. Gardner Russo & Gardner LLC

The fourth-largest institutional investor, Gardner Russo & Gardner LLC, holds 3,926 class A shares of Berkshire Hathaway as of Sept. 30, 2019. This represents 0.24% of Berkshire's class A shares.

Gardner Russo & Gardner LLC is based in Lancaster, Pa., and provides investment management services. Tom Russo joined Gardner Russo & Gardner as a partner in 1989 and now directs the company's investment decisions.

What Are Berkshire Hathaway Class B Shares?

Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK.B) initiated class B shares in 1996 in response to the creation of unit investment trusts (UIT), which held the expensive class A shares. The trusts were designed to distribute units representing fractional ownership in class A shares, trading well above $20,000 at the time, which smaller investors could afford.

Berkshire Hathaway class B stock closed at $226 on Jan. 12, 2020. The top five institutional shareholders of class B stock are, in order, Vanguard Group, Blackrock, State Street Corporation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The largest holder of class B shares, Vanguard Group, owns 141 million shares.