(Adds analyst comment on Verizon, details on Wal-Mart, Buffett
NEW YORK May 15 Warren Buffett's Berkshire
Hathaway Inc bought a new stake of 11 million shares in
Verizon Communications Inc in the first quarter and added
to its holding in Wal-Mart Stores Inc, according to a
regulatory filing on Thursday.
Shares of Verizon rose 1.6 percent to $48.75 in after-hours
trading following the disclosure, in a U.S. Securities and
Exchange Commission filing, detailing Berkshire's U.S. common
stock investments as of March 31.
Shares of companies often rise after Berkshire reveals new
stakes because some investors consider it a vote of confidence
by Buffett and try to copy him.
Verizon "has shown that with several changes in leadership,
the company performs and is a premium provider, if not the
premium provider in the market," said analyst Roger Entner of
Recon Analytics in Boston.
Buffett "likes people who can execute," Entner added.
Investor Daniel Loeb's Third Point LLC also opened a new
stake in Verizon, buying 3.5 million shares.
Verizon declined to comment.
Berkshire's regulatory filing did not say whether the
Verizon investment was made by Buffett himself, or by one or
both of his portfolio managers, Todd Combs and Ted Weschler.
U.S. regulators require large investors to disclose their
stock holdings every quarter, and the disclosures can offer a
window into their investment strategies.
Berkshire, a conglomerate with over 80 businesses ranging
from ice cream to insurance, added to stakes in other companies,
as well, including DaVita HealthCare Partners Inc and
IBM Corp, among others.
Berkshire Hathaway reduced its stake in several companies,
among them DirecTV and General Motors Co.
It also reported a 17.3 percent boost in its stake in
Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the world's largest retailer, to
58.1 million shares, for a total of $4.44 billion.
Though Berkshire owns several retail businesses such as
Fruit of the Loom and the Nebraska Furniture Mart, Buffett is
not known for specializing in that sector.
Asked at Berkshire's annual meeting on May 3 about when he
goes out of his "circle of confidence" when investing, Buffett
said "I've gone out of it more often in retail."
The Omaha, Nebraska-based company's book value per share,
Buffett's preferred measure of growth, grew 2.6 percent from
January to March this year.
The conglomerate ended the first quarter with $118.5 billion
in stock, more than half of which was in four companies:
American Express Company, Wells Fargo, IBM and
the Coca-Cola Company.
While Buffett has said he makes Berkshire's largest
investments, some investments are made by Combs and Weschler,
who oversee several billion dollars each.
In afternoon trading, Berkshire's Class A shares slipped
1.07 percent to $189,371 and its Class B shares dipped 0.92
percent to $126.36.
(Reporting by Luciana Lopez and Jonathan Stempel; additional
reporting by Marina Lopes in New York and Bangalore newsroom;
Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Tom Brown)