Buffett's secret stock holdings and what he did with Apple

Mia Kwok

Livewire Markets

Buffett has bitten into his Apple, selling 6% of his total position - $7.4 billion in shares - according to the latest SEC filings for Q4 2020. While there's been a bit of buzz about the sell-off, Buffett retains nearly US$120 billion in Apple shares, so this has not been perceived as an anti-Apple play, so much as the investment icon eyeing clever opportunities elsewhere. Apple remains the largest holding by value, in the Berkshire Hathaway portfolio, according to CNBC.

Buffett has been secretive of late, with an application to the SEC at the end of last year to keep some of his acquisitions suppressed from public view. In a separate SEC filing, three stock acquisitions have been revealed which were previously kept secret: 

  • Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ)
  • Chevron Corp (NYSE:CVX) and 
  • Listed insurance company Marsh & McLennan (NYSE:MMC).

Usually, the US Securities Act requires companies to register their holdings, however, Berkshire Hathaway had applied to keep these buys private and not report them on his Q3 2020 13F filing. Most pundits and Buffett boffins have assumed this strategy was in place to allow Berkshire Hathaway time to build up their position and buy more of the stock before the markets found out. Certainly, a very wise decision, since where Buffett invests makes markets move, and this time has been no exception.

How the markets moved

Verizon shares shot up 6% in the 24 hours following news of his acquisition, and have largely held steady at US$56.98 per share. It was a big move for the Berkshire portfolio, which has added 147 million shares, worth approximately US$8 billion. 

Likewise, Berkshire's sale of Apple (NASDAQ:APPL) has bumped the stock down a notch since the news, although faith in the stock remains high overall.

Berkshire Hathaway's holding in Chevron is about US$4.6 billion with 48 million shares. Chevron shares jumped 3% within hours of the announcement. 

Berkshire holds only a small portion of the insurance and financial services firm, Marsh & McLennan, with US$500 million in shares. The share price moved over 2% from the news, albeit at a slower rate. 

Conclusion

These are big holdings, moving Verizon and Chevron into the top ten holdings by value in the Berkshire Hathaway portfolio. It's little wonder investors want to jump on the bandwagon and chase some of that Buffett magic. The market-mover has only a few times in history applied to the SEC to delay reporting their current holdings, but when you see the price changes from the news you can appreciate why the SEC is willing to grant permission to the investing giant. 

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Mia Kwok
Editor
Livewire Markets

Mia Kwok is a former content editor at Livewire Markets. Mia has extensive experience in media and communications for business, financial services and policy. Mia has written for and edited several business and finance publications, such as...

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