Berk­shire Hath­away hints at new pur­chase

The Pak Banker - - COMPANIES/BOSS -

War­ren Buf­fett's Berk­shire Hath­away Inc said it boosted its stake in ca­ble TV op­er­a­tor Char­ter Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Corp, and sig­naled it may have another large in­vest­ment planned af­ter agree­ing to buy Pre­ci­sion Cast­parts Corp in its largest-ever pur­chase.

Berk­shire also ap­peared to have shed its stakes in oil­field equip­ment provider Na­tional Oil­well Varco Inc and re­finer Phillips 66 in the sec­ond quar­ter, as the oil in­dus­try strug­gles with fall­ing prices. The changes were dis­closed in a U.S. Se­cu­ri­ties and Ex­change Com­mis­sion fil­ing de­tail­ing Berk­shire's $107.2 bil­lion U.S. stock port­fo­lio on June 30. Berk­shire kept some de­tails about its hold­ings con­fi­den­tial. The SEC some­times lets the Omaha, Ne­braska-based com­pany de­lay dis­clo­sures of new stakes so Buf­fett can build them qui­etly, rather than have in­vestors pig­gy­back on him be­fore he fin­ishes.

Fri­day's fil­ing sug­gests that only a small per­cent­age of the $3.09 bil­lion of stock that Berk­shire bought in the quar­ter went to com­pa­nies it al­ready owned. Berk­shire held 8.51 mil­lion shares of Char­ter worth $1.46 bil­lion on June 30, up from 5.98 mil­lion shares on March 31. It also con­firmed its pur­chase of 20 mil­lion shares, or 8.7 per­cent, of paint maker Ax­alta Coat­ing Sys­tems Ltd from con­trol­ling share­holder Car­lyle Group LP.

Berk­shire re­ported lower stakes in con­glom­er­ate Chicago Bridge & Iron Co, media com­pany Vi­a­com Inc and Wabco Hold­ings Inc, which sells brak­ing and sus­pen­sion sys­tems for com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles. It swapped most of what was once a much larger Phillips 66 stake for a chem­i­cals busi­ness in Fe­bru­ary 2014.

Fri­day's fil­ing did not dis­close who made which Berk­shire in­vest­ments. Smaller in­vest­ments are of­ten made by Todd Combs and Ted Weschler, who may even­tu­ally suc­ceed Buf­fett as chief in­vest­ment of­fi­cers.

Combs in­vested in Pre­ci­sion Cast­parts be­fore Berk­shire said on Mon­day it would buy the aerospace parts maker. The trans­ac­tion val­ued that com­pany at $32.3 bil­lion.

Other prom­i­nent in­vestors such as Jana Part­ners and Davis Se­lected ad­vis­ers bought Pre­ci­sion Cast­parts dur­ing the quar­ter. Wells Fargo & Co re­mained Berk­shire's big­gest stock hold­ing. Kraft Heinz Co be­came Berk­shire's sec­ond-big­gest hold­ing last month, when H.J. Heinz Co bought Kraft Foods Group Inc.

That trans­formed Berk­shire's 52.5 per­cent stake in Heinz into a 26.9 per­cent stake in Kraft Heinz. Berk­shire owns more than 80 busi­nesses, in­clud­ing the BNSF rail­road, Dairy Queen ice cream and Ge­ico car in­sur­ance. Buf­fett, who turns 85 on Aug. 30 has run Berk­shire for 50 years.

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