Berkshire Hathaway Portfolio Holdings as of September 30, 2008

As I noted on Friday, Berkshire Hathaway (BRKa) has issued its third quarter 13F filing. This filing lists the company’s stock holdings as of September 30, 2008. I always enjoy reviewing these Berkshire Hathaway filings because they provide me with a glimpse at what Warren Buffett’s latest investment moves might be. Here are the latest changes.

New Berkshire Hathaway Stocks

The only new position to appear this quarter is Eaton Corporation (ETN). Eaton is a diversified industrial manufacturer focused on power management systems. Berkshire Hathaway added just 2,908,700 share of Eaton, which is much small than the typical Buffett purchase. Therefore, it might represent the holding of a subsidiary, such as a Lou Simpson pick for GEICO.

Increased Positions

  • ConocoPhillips (COP): 83,955,800 shares (40.7% increase)
  • NRG Energy, Inc. (NRG): 5,000,000 shares (54.4% increase)
  • US Bancorp (USB): 72,937,126 shares (6.3% increase)

The significant news here is Warren Buffett’s big move into oil with ConocoPhillips. It looks like Mr. Buffett might have been a bit early on this oil play, since the price of oil has dropped significantly since the end of September. However, it should be noted that Mr. Buffett has repeatedly stated that he is not a market timer. 

I must admit that I’ve been also watching the price of oil. I made myself a note a few months ago to review oil stocks if the price of crude dropped below $55 a barrel. We are right at that price level now, so I will be looking at some of my favorite energy stocks again.

Reduced Holdings

  • Bank of America (BAC): 5,000,000 shares (reduced by 45%) 
  • Carmax Inc. (KMX): 18,444,100 shares (reduced by 13.4%)
  • Home Depot Inc. (HD): 3,700,000 shares (reduced by 11.5%)
  • Lowes Companies Inc. (LOW): 6,500,000 shares (reduced by 7.1%)
  • United Health Group (UNH): 6,379,900 shares (slightly reduced)
  • Wellpoint Inc. (WLP): 4,777,300 shares (slightly reduced)
  • Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC): 290,407,668 shares (reduced by 247,200 shares)

The biggest surprise in the positions that appear to be reduced is Wells Fargo (WFC). While the actual reduction in the the position size is relatively small, I was under the impression that Mr. Buffett was adding to his Wells Fargo position. He even stated on CNBC that he was adding shares of Wells Fargo to his personal account.

Unchanged Holdings

  • American Express (AXP): 151,610,700 shares
  • Anheuser Busch Cos. Inc. (BUD): 13,845,000 shares
  • Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNI): 63,785,418 shares
  • Coca Cola (KO): 200,000,000 shares
  • Comcast Corp (CMCSA): 12,000,000 shares
  • Comdisco Holding Co. (CDCO): 1,538,377 shares
  • Costco Wholesale Corp. (COST): 5,254,000 shares
  • Gannett Inc. (GCI): 3,447,600 shares
  • General Electric Co. (GE): 7,777,900 shares
  • GlaxoSmithKline (GSK): 1,510,500 shares
  • Ingersoll-Rand Co. Ltd. (IR): 636,600 shares
  • Iron Mountain Inc. (IRM): 3,372,200 shares
  • Johnson & Johnson (JNJ): 61,754,448 shares
  • Kraft Foods Inc. (KFT): 138,272,500 shares
  • M & T Bank Corporation (MTB): 6,715,060 shares
  • Moody’s (MCO): 48,000,000 shares
  • Nike Inc. (NKE): 7,641,000 shares
  • Norfolk Southern Corp. (NSC): 1,933,000 shares
  • Procter & Gamble Co. (PG): 105,847,000 shares
  • Sanofi Aventis: 3,903,933 shares
  • Sun Trusts Banks (STI): 3,204,600 shares
  • Torchmark Corp. (TMK): 2,823,879 shares
  • USG Corporation (USG): 17,072,192 shares
  • Union Pacific Corp. (UNP): 8,906,000 shares
  • United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS): 1,429,200 shares
  • Wabco Holdings Inc. (WBC): 2,700,000 shares
  • Wal-Mart Stores (WMT): 19,944,300 shares
  • Washington Post Co. (WPO): 1,727,765 shares
  • Wesco Finl Corp. (WSC): 5,703,087 shares

Finally, it is interesting to note some of the positions that have remained unchanged. Even though there has been a lot of talk about Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNI), that position remained unchanged at the end of September. I was also disappointed to see that Mr. Buffett is no longer adding shares of USG, even though the stock price is much lower now that it was when he first bought it. I guess USG’s troubles in the face of the credit/housing market collapse no longer makes that stock appear attractive enough for Mr. Buffett to view it as a cheap value.

Share your own observations on Berkshire Hathaway’s latest stock holdings in the comments section below. I’m interested in hearing your thoughts.

Disclosure: I own shares of US Bancorp (USB), Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC), Kraft Foods Inc. (KFT), and USG Corporation (USG).

5 thoughts on “Berkshire Hathaway Portfolio Holdings as of September 30, 2008

  • November 17, 2008 at 10:33 pm

    The Carmax reduction is particularly interesting. What changed? Mostly credit conditions. Will that materially affect their business? Perhaps, though if people can’t get credit, then they’ll have to buy the car they can afford without financing–probably a used car.

    A second change is that new car sales are at historic lows. This also strikes me as a boon for used car dealers. The cars must come from somewhere.

  • November 18, 2008 at 1:31 am


    Buffett’s oil position is reassuring, at least for me. Note that as oil makes new lows, even today, most of the oil/gas stocks are still off their lows. I’m not a technician or anything so I don’t know if that means anything. From a fundamental view, it looks like the oil sector is pretty undervalued and unless human civilization falls off in the next decade or so, these stocks are too cheap.

    I’m glad to have Warren on my side of the trade.

  • November 19, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    Berkshire hasn’t increased its USG position as there is (from memory) a poison-pill in place. It was originally set at the 15% ownership level (back in the early 2000’s) – I think there was leeway on this figure when Berkshire underwrote the $40 rights offering, so ownership may have moved up somewhat at that time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.