Berkshire doubles Teva stake, adds to Apple, ends a newspaper bet

Berkshire doubles Teva stake, adds to Apple, ends a newspaper bet

 

NEW YORK,.  Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc yesterday said it has more than doubled its investment in generic drugmaker Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd, and confirmed it has become Apple Inc’s second-largest shareholder.

Berkshire also shed an investment dating to the mid-1970s that reflected Buffett’s longstanding love for newspapers, selling its stake in Graham Holdings Co, the former publisher of the Washington Post.

The changes were disclosed in a regulatory filing detailing Berkshire’s US-listed stock holdings as of March 31.

Berkshire owned about US$173 billion (RM684 billion) of equities, as well as dozens of businesses in the railroad, insurance, energy, chemical, food and retail and other sectors.

Berkshire said it owned about 40.5 million Teva American depositary receipts (ADRs) worth about US$693 million as of that date, up from 18.9 million ADRs three months earlier.

Teva’s share price rose 5.1 per cent in after-hours trading yesterday. Stocks often rise in price when Berkshire reveals new or increased stakes.

Larger stock investments are normally made by Buffett, while smaller bets come from his investment managers Todd Combs and Ted Weschler. The filing does not say who bought which stocks.

Berkshire said much of the US$14.8 billion it invested in equities during the quarter went to Apple, and said it owned 239.6 million shares worth more than US$40 billion.

That gave Berkshire a roughly 5 per cent stake in the iPhone maker, surpassing BlackRock Inc and trailing only Vanguard Group, according to Reuters data.

Buffett told CNBC on May 7: “I’d love to own 100 per cent” of Apple, two days after he told Berkshire’s annual meeting that he might buy more Apple for the right price.

Berkshire shed a more than six-year-old investment in International Business Machines Corp that Buffett has admitted was not his best.

The sale of Berkshire’s last 107,775 Graham shares ended an investment that once exceeded US$1 billion.

Buffett pitched newspapers while growing up in Omaha, Nebraska, and was a longtime friend of the late Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham.

She died in 2001 and the Post was sold 12 years later to Amazon.com Inc founder Jeff Bezos. In 2014, Buffett swapped much of Berkshire’s stake in Graham for Berkshire stock that Graham owned, a TV station in Miami and cash.

Berkshire still invests in newspapers and recently owned 32 daily newspapers including its hometown Omaha World-Herald.

Buffett has lamented how changing reader habits have damaged the industry, and said only The Wall Street JournalThe New York Times and perhaps the Post have come up with digital business models capable of replacing lost print advertising.

In yesterday’s filing, Berkshire also reported higher stakes in Bank of New York Mellon Co, Delta Air Lines Inc, Monsanto Co and US Bancorp, and lower stakes in Charter Communications Inc, Liberty Global Plc, Phillips 66, United Continental Holdings Inc, Verisk Analytics Inc and Wells Fargo & Co.

Berkshire had disclosed the Phillips 66 change, and that it might sell Wells Fargo stock to keep its stake below 10 per cent. ? Reuters