Warren Buffett – chair and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc (NYSE: BRK.A)(NYSE: BRK.B) – is one of the most successful and influential investors of all time.
Berkshire, the company that he almost single-handedly built into a US$526 billion behemoth, is one of the largest companies in the world. It owns (or owns massive stakes in) a wide variety of businesses, including Duracell, Fruit of the Loom, Geico, Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL), Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ: AMZN), Wells Fargo & Co (NYSE: WFC) and (more recently) Snowflake Inc (NYSE: SNOW).
So needless to say, when Buffett has something to say, most investors pay attention.
Over in the United States, large companies like Berkshire have to tell the markets what shares they own, and in what quantities, every 3 months in a filing known as the 13F. Berkshire’s latest filing (covering the quarter ending September 30, 2020) isn’t due for a few days yet. But reporting in BusinessInsider gives us a sneak preview.
What has Warren Buffett been doing?
According to reporting from BusinessInsider, Buffett likely spent the quarter trimming positions in some of his more well-known positions.
The report quotes David Hass, a finance professor at the University of Maryland in the US. Professor Kass “closely follows” Buffett and Berkshire, and reckons he has a few insights into Buffett’s more recent moves.
“I am expecting that Buffett further reduced his holdings in several banks including Wells Fargo”, the report quotes Hass as stating. He also predicted that Berkshire “cashed out about US$4 billion in Apple stock last quarter”. Hass makes these predictions based on Berkshire’s recent earnings.
Hass also highlights Berkshire’s recent ~US$750 million investment in cloud company Snowflake, which has a highly-publicised IPO back in September. He estimates Berkshire will show a US$1.5 billion position in Snowflake when we eventually get to see the filing.
However, Kass expects Buffett to put this cash to use, telling BusinessInsider that he expects the legendary investor to continue to shift his focus from “weathering the pandemic” to “deploying the company’s vast cash reserves”. Kass believes Buffett began this shift between the quarter ending March 31 (when Buffett net sold US$12.8 billion in stocks) and the quarter ending June 30 (when Buffett net bought $4.8 billion).
In fact, Kass says that Buffett “may be feeling even more bullish now” considering the prospect of an effective COVID-19 vaccine in “a matter of months”, together with the rollout of other promising treatments for the coronavirus.
This “should remove Buffett’s main cause of concern” Kass stated.
He says that “some new holdings may be revealed as well”, predicting we could see some larger tech positions, despite Buffett’s historical nonchalance toward the sector.