Berkshire Hathaway Inc., led by iconic investor Warren Buffet, made a couple of surprising moves in the first quarter of 2019. The most astonishing move was the addition of Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) to the portfolio, as well as adding to its already enormous position in JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM). Meanwhile, the firm continues to reduce its significant stake in Wells Fargo Co. (WFC). But overall, the bank stocks appear to be the focus of the firm as of right now.
WhaleWisdom estimates that the value of Berkshire Hathaway’s 13F holdings increased by almost 9% in the first quarter to $199.5 billion. That was slightly below the performance of the S&P 500 during the same period, which increased by over 13%. The firm’s top holdings represent nearly 80% of the portfolio’s total value.
During the first quarter, the firm purchased the shares of e-commerce giant Amazon. Berkshire initiated a position in the stock by purchasing just over 483,000 shares, worth about $860 million. However, the position doesn’t even rank in the top-10 of Berkshire’s holdings. The stock’s position comes in at 27 out of the 48 reported holdings, making it a tiny position for the firm.
The addition of Amazon may be considered by most to be a surprising incorporation to the portfolio considering the firm’s reluctance to add technology stocks to its holdings. However, given the size of the position, it is not likely to have a significant impact on the portfolio if it doesn’t work out.
Adding More JPMorgan
Berkshire continued to buy shares of JPMorgan during the first quarter, adding almost 9.4 million shares, bringing the total up to 59.5 million shares. Of course, this follows the fourth quarter’s addition of over 14 million shares. It made JPMorgan the 8th largest holding in the Berkshire portfolio. Additionally, Bank of America, Corp. moved up to the firm’s second most significant position. Overall, bank stocks are half of the firm’s top 10 portfolio holdings.
Dumping Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo is one stock that appears to be out of favor with Berkshire, as the firm continues to shed its position in the equity. During the first quarter, Berkshire sold 17 million shares of the bank, which follows the 16 million shares sold in the fourth quarter. The bank stock fell to the third largest holding in the Berkshire portfolio, and if the current pace of selling continues it could fall out of the top 5 holdings, moving below Coca-Cola Co. (KO) and American Express Co. (AXP) in the second quarter.
Additionally, Berkshire reduced its stake in Phillips 66 Co. (PSX) by more than 50%, dropping the holdings to 5.5 million shares. They also sold off almost 20% of their stake in Charter Communications, Inc. (CHTR)
For the most part, outside of Amazon, the first quarter seemed to be a continuation of what happened in the fourth quarter, while the bank stocks appear to remain the firm’s main focus.