February 14, 2019 / 9:48 PM / 10 months ago

Berkshire trims Apple stake, adds Suncor and Red Hat, exits Oracle

(Reuters) - Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc said it has trimmed its stake in iPhone maker Apple Inc, though none of the selling was Buffett’s, and added positions in Canada’s Suncor Energy Inc and software company Red Hat Inc.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Apple is seen at a store in Zurich, Switzerland January 3, 2019. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

Berkshire also appeared to have shed a $2.13 billion stake in database software company Oracle Corp after having first disclosed it in November. It is rare for Berkshire, which owns some stocks for decades, to unwind an investment so fast.

The changes were disclosed in a Thursday regulatory filing detailing Berkshire’s U.S.-listed stock portfolio as of Dec. 31, which shrank $38 billion in the quarter to $183.1 billion amid a broad selloff in stocks.

A recent change in accounting rules means that decline will likely punish Berkshire’s reported net income, though not operating profit, when the Omaha, Nebraska-based company reports fourth-quarter and year-end results, expected on Feb. 23.

Thursday’s filing includes investments by Buffett and his portfolio managers Todd Combs and Ted Weschler, but does not say who bought and sold what.

Berkshire said in the filing that its Apple stake shrank to 249.6 million shares in the quarter from 252.5 million, reducing its reported stake to below $40 billion as Apple’s share price slid 30 percent.

Buffett, though, had nothing to do with the selling.

“One of the managers other than Warren had a position in Apple and sold part of it in order to make an unrelated purchase,” Buffett’s assistant Debbie Bosanek said in an email. “None of the shares under Warren’s direction have ever been sold.”

Investors monitor Berkshire’s quarterly filings for signs about where Buffett, Combs and Weschler see value.

Stock prices often move higher or lower when Berkshire discloses new stakes, or sheds old ones.

Suncor shares rose 4 percent after Berkshire reentered the stock, which it last owned in the third quarter of 2016, owning 10.76 million shares worth $300.9 million.

Shares of Red Hat rose 0.3 percent after Berkshire said it owned 4.18 million shares worth $733.4 million.

Oracle shares fell 1.3 percent.

Suncor, Red Hat, Oracle and Berkshire did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Berkshire has more than 90 businesses in the insurance, energy, food and retail, industrial, railroad and other sectors, and often buys stocks when buying whole companies appears too expensive. Its last major acquisition was in January 2016.

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Most other changes in Berkshire’s stock portfolio were relatively smaller, though it boosted its stake in JPMorgan Chase & Co 41 percent to 50.1 million shares, worth $4.9 billion.

Combs is a director at JPMorgan, which is working with Berkshire and Amazon.com Inc to create a new company aiming to cut employee healthcare costs.

Berkshire also confirmed its new, $261 million stake in StoneCo Ltd, a Brazilian credit card processor that went public in October.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall and James Dalgleish

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