Shares in telecommunications conglomerate Verizon, insurance broker parent company Marsh & McLennan and energy giant Chevron are all rising today for the same reason – billionaire investor Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway sees them going higher. In its latest filings with the SEC, the conglomerate revealed new stakes in the three companies, which were kept confidential until now. Journalists and analysts speculated for months what these mystery stocks kept out of the Q3 13F filing were and now we know.
At the end of last year, Berkshire held 146,716,496 VZ shares worth $8.6 billion and 48.5 million CVX shares worth $4.1 billion. Verizon is now the sixth largest holding by market value in Buffett's portfolio. The last time the Oracle of Omaha kept the building of large positions a secret this way was with Phillips 66 in 2015 and IBM in 2011.
Berkshire also made several other increases, cuts and exits. Here are the highlights:
- Apple stake lowered by 6% in Q4 2020 to 887 million shares. It still remains the company's largest holding by market value and second-largest by number of shares.
- More than doubled the shares it owns in T-Mobile to 5.2 million. Both it and Verizon are currently in the middle of their 5G rollouts. No love for AT&T at Berkshire.
- Liquidated holdings in COVID-19 vaccine maker Pfizer and bought more shares in rivals AbbVie and Bristol-Myers Squibb.
- Banks continued to be out of favor with shares reduced in U.S. Bancorp and Wells Fargo and exits from JPMorgan, M&T Bank and PNC Financial Services.
- Gold miner Randgold Resources stake exited less than a year after the position was taken.
- General Motors investment trimmed to 72.5 million shares from 80 million shares.
- RH or Restoration Hardware holding increased by around 24,000 shares. It was among the portfolio's biggest winners in 2020, rising over 100% during the year.
If not for a few of Berkshire's top holdings, including RH and AAPL, its own returns might've been a lot worse over the past year. BRK has underperformed the market through the recovery as its banking and energy holdings have suffered through the pandemic. Even shares of Coca-Cola (KO) haven't brought a smile