Warren Buffet Sells Oil Holdings

Yesterday Berkshire Hathaway, the investment company run by Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger, filed its regulatory papers disclosing its equity holdings.

Due to Mr Buffett’s reputation as the World’s greatest investor, these filings are keenly watched as even small changes may hint at his strategy and thinking.

Berkshire mainly sold its oil-related holdings, reducing its ownership of ExxonMobil by 67% and also cutting ConocoPhillips by 34%. Warren Buffett usually only sells if he sees larger value elsewhere so it is also interesting to look at his purchases in the last quarter of 2009:

Iron Mountain – Information Management Services
Becton Dickinson – Medical Devices, Supplies and Technology
Republic Services – Waste Management & Garbage Collection
Wells Fargo – Banking & Finance

Here is a list of Berkshire Hathaway’s top equity holdings as at 31st Dec 2009:

1. The CocaCola Company (KO) – 200,000,000 shares, 19.68% of the total portfolio
2. Wells Fargo & Company (WFC) – 320,088,385 shares, 14.91% of the total portfolio
3. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. (BNI) – 76,777,029 shares, 13.07% of the total portfolio
4. American Express Company (AXP) – 151,610,700 shares, 10.6% of the total portfolio
5. The Procter & Gamble Company (PG) – 87,503,411 shares, 9.16% of the total portfolio

… it is worth mentioning that the above figures are before the full acquisition of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp which is now a private company and 100% owned by Berkshire Hathaway.

Warren Buffett likes to buy and hold companies that have decades of future growth ahead of them. Hence information management, waste processing, medical and finance businesses. I wonder whether the sale of his oil assets indicates he believes oil demand will eventually start decreasing significantly? Food for thought.

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