Buffett's Berkshire acquires ExxonMobil stake

AP News
Posted: Nov 16, 2009 7:06 PM

Billionaire Warren Buffett's company bought a nearly $60 million stake in Exxon Mobil Corp., trimmed holdings in oil rival ConocoPhillips and nearly doubled its stake in Wal-Mart Stores Inc. during the latest quarter.

Omaha-based Berkshire Hathaway Inc. disclosed the changes to its $59.7 billion U.S. stock portfolio in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Monday.

During the quarter ended Sept. 30, Berkshire Hathaway bought nearly 855,000 shares of Exxon Mobil. Its stake in ConocoPhillips was cut from more than 64 million shares at the end of June to more than 57 million shares, valued at nearly $2.6 billion.

Berkshire Hathaway's stake in Wal-Mart, valued at $1.65 billion, stood at 33.6 million shares at the end of September, up from nearly 20 million at the end of June.

A separate filing Monday by the Seattle-based Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation showed it raised its stake in Berkshire Hathaway to more than 1.6 million Class B shares, worth $3,431 apiece, from 1.25 million. Those shares are to be split 50-to-1 under Berkshire Hathaway's Nov. 3 deal to acquire Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp., the nation's second-largest railroad. Berkshire has agreed to pay $26.3 billion in cash and stock for the 77.4 percent of the company it doesn't now own, valuing the entire company at $34 billion.

Buffett has been a key donor to the Gates Foundation, with plans to give 10 million Class B shares in a series of annual gifts. Bill Gates, Microsoft Corp.'s co-founder, is a friend and philanthropic ally of Buffett.

Meanwhile, the Gates Foundation changed holdings of several other stocks between June 30 and Sept. 30, including:

_ Increasing its stake in McDonald's Corp. to 7.4 million shares from 6.9 million;

_ Boosting its stake in Coca-Cola Co. to 6.9 million shares from 5.7 million;

_ Raising its ownership of trash hauler Waste Management Inc. to 15.7 million shares from 7.8 million;

_ Cutting its stake in shoe maker Crocs Inc. to 668,000 shares from 3 million.

Another filing Monday shows financier George Soros' company, Soros Fund Management LLC, increased his stake in Berkshire Hathaway to 10 Class A shares _ valued at around $103,000 apiece _ from the previous four. Soros also acquired 200 Class B shares.

Berkshire's holdings reports are closely followed because of Buffett's legendary reputation as a savvy investor able to spot stock market bargains and then sell holdings that get overpriced.

One holding that disappeared from Hathaway's portfolio in the latest quarter was industrial equipment maker Eaton Corp. Hathaway had held 2 million shares of Eaton three months earlier, after selling 1.2 million shares in the previous quarter.

The filing does not differentiate between investments Berkshire makes, investments any of its subsidiaries make, or investments Buffett himself makes.

The filing also says Berkshire has received permission from the SEC to omit some information to protect its trading strategy, so the document offers an incomplete picture of the company's investments. Berkshire regularly asks the SEC for the ability not to immediately disclose its holdings when it is making significant changes in an investment. Berkshire says the information could hurt its trading strategy because the market likes to follow what the "Oracle of Omaha's" company does.

In addition to its investments, Berkshire owns dozens of operating companies across a wide range of industries.