Berkshire Hathaway Holdings Show Buffett Hunting a Big Elephant

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Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway holdings have undergone some major changes in the third quarter, according to the company's latest 13F filing.

Not only did Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE: BRK.A, BRK.B) sell more than $750 million in two American giants, they initiated four new holdings and eliminated three positions entirely. Overall, Berkshire's reported portfolio, which only includes long positions, increased to $75.3 billion for the quarter ended Sept. 30, up from $74.3 billion the previous quarter.

While some think Buffett is taking profits where he can, others think he is building up a stockpile of cash for a major move.

"Buffett may be selling the consumer stocks to provide more funds to his deputies while reserving money for a large acquisition," David Kass, a professor at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business, told Bloomberg News.

"He may be really wanting to keep that aside for his big elephant," said Kass, who is referring to Buffett's quote in a letter to shareholders last year where the 82-year-old investing legend stated, "Our elephant gun has been reloaded, and my trigger finger is itchy."

Only Buffett and Berkshire's new portfolio managers, Todd Combs and Ted Weschler, truly know why they made their latest moves, and so without further speculation, here they are.

Warren Buffett's Latest Sales

  • General Electric (NYSE: GE) and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) each had their positions dramatically reduced in the last quarter. Berkshire held around 492,000 shares of JNJ as of Sep 30, down from 10.3 million shares three months ago. The market value of the remaining JNJ stock is just $34 million, down $682 million from a quarter ago. Buffett now owns 88,900 GE shares, an 88% decrease from the over 5 million shares three months earlier, andthat stake is now worth just under $12 million, down $88.4 million.
  • CVS Caremark Corp. (NYSE: CVS), Dollar General Corp. (NYSE: DG), and Ingersoll-Rand PLC (NYSE: IR) all had their positions eliminated last quarter.

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