FILE PHOTO: Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett walks through the exhibit hall as shareholders gather to hear from the billionaire investor at Berkshire Hathaway Inc's annual shareholder meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S., May 4, 2019. REUTERS/Scott Morgan
August 15, 2020
By Jonathan Stempel
(Reuters) – Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc <BRKa.N> said on Friday it has sold shares of some of the largest U.S. banks, slashing its stakes in Wells Fargo & Co <WFC.N> and JPMorgan Chase & Co <JPM.N> and exiting an investment in Goldman Sachs Group Inc <GS.N>.
In a regulatory filing detailing its U.S.-listed investments as of June 30, Berkshire also disclosed a new 20.9 million share investment worth $563.6 million in Toronto-based Barrick Gold Corp <ABX.TO>, one of the world’s largest mining companies.
Investors monitor Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire’s quarterly filings to see where Buffett and his portfolio managers Todd Combs and Ted Weschler see value.
Shares of Barrick have benefited from rising gold prices, which set a record last week, and rose 3.2% in after-hours trading following Berkshire’s disclosure. Barrick did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Berkshire reduced its Wells Fargo stake by 26% in the quarter to 237.6 million shares.
Since early 2018, Berkshire has shed more than half of its Wells Fargo shares, which were once worth $32 billion but lost value as the bank was hurt by scandals for mistreating customers. Buffett first invested in Wells Fargo in 1989.
Berkshire also reduced by 62% its stake in JPMorgan, where Combs is a director, to 22.2 million shares, and shed its remaining 1.9 million Goldman shares.
Buffett has not given up on the banking industry, after telling investors in May that banks were well-capitalized and capable of weathering the coronavirus pandemic.
Berkshire still invests in several banks including Bank of America Corp <BAC.N>, where in the last month it invested more than $2 billion, giving it an 11.9% stake worth more than $27 billion.
In Friday’s filing, Berkshire said it also exited its investment in Toronto-based Restaurant Brands International Inc <QSR.TO>, the parent of Burger King and Tim Hortons.
Berkshire also has more than 90 operating units including the Geico car insurer, BNSF railroad and Dairy Queen ice cream.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Chris Reese and Richard Chang)