Warren Buffett is undeniably the most famous and influential investor in modern history, based on his extraordinary performance record. Not surprisingly, the investment portfolio of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK.A), the holding company employing the Oracle of Omaha as chairman and CEO, receives wide media attention and scrutiny, even though Buffett is no longer making every investment decision.
Despite his unparalleled success, Buffett’s investment model has long been transparent, straightforward, and consistent. He invests in large, blue-chip companies with strong balance sheets and attractive valuations. Buffett often invests for the long term, but he’s never been afraid to make significant new investments or drop longtime holdings.
- Berkshire Hathaway’s portfolio’s five largest positions are in Apple Inc. (AAPL), Bank of America Corp (BAC), Chevron (CVX), The Coca-Cola Company (KO), and American Express Company (AXP).
- Apple is Berkshire’s largest holding, accounting for 50% of its stock portfolio.
- The top 5 holdings account for about 78% of the portfolio.
Here are the top five stocks in Berkshire Hathaway’s portfolio, according to its second-quarter 2023 earnings report.
Apple, the maker of iPhones, is by far Berkshire Hathaway’s largest stock holding at $177.6 billion as of June 30, 2023, accounting for 50% of its stock portfolio and for 5.8% of Apple’s outstanding shares.
Berkshire Hathaway acquired the bulk of its stake in Apple between 2016 and 2019 for just over $35 billion.
At the 2023 Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting, Warren Buffett said “Our criteria for Apple was different than the other businesses we own—It just happens to be better business than any we own.”
In 2022, Berkshire Hathaway added another 333,856 shares of Apple, already its largest single holding, bringing its stake to more than $177 billion by the middle of 2023.
2. Bank of America
Berkshire Hathaway’s second-largest holding is Bank of America, with a stake valued at $29.6 billion as of the middle of 2023, accounting for 8% of the portfolio. Berkshire Hathaway held 12.9% of the bank’s outstanding shares as of March 1.
Buffett acquired 700 million of the 1 billion Bank of America shares Berkshire Hathaway now holds in 2022 for warrants Berkshire Hathaway received when it made a $5 billion investment in the bank’s preferred stock in 2011.
3. American Express
Berkshire Hathaway’s $26.4 billion stake in financial services provider American Express accounted for 7.5% of its portfolio as of mid-2023 and 20.4% of American Express shares as of March 2023.
The stake dates back to 1994 when Buffett acquired AmEx stock in exchange for warrants from a $300 million preferred stock investment that returned 64% over three years. Berkshire Hathaway has significantly increased its American Express stake over the past decade.
4. Coca Cola
Buffett famously consumes five 12-ounce servings of Coke per day, and once said he is “a quarter Coca-Cola” based on the drink’s share of his caloric intake.
Berkshire Hathaway makes do with a Coca-Cola stake of $24.1 billion, representing an allocation of 6.8% in its stock portfolio. That accounts for 9.25% of Coca-Cola’s outstanding stock.
After Buffett began accumulating the position in 1988, he said he planned to hold it “for a long time” in the next letter to shareholders. “In fact, when we own portions of outstanding businesses with outstanding managements, our favorite holding period is forever,” Buffett wrote.
Buffett cut Berkshire Hathaway’s stake in oil giant Chevron, which was once the company’s third-largest equity holding, in the first half of 2023. Berkshire’s stake was worth $19.4 billion, representing 5.5% of the company’s portfolio as of June 30. Berkshire’s stake amounted to 7% of Chevron’s outstanding shares as of March 2023.
“Chevron is not an evil company in the least and I have no compunction about owning Chevron,” Buffett said at Berkshire Hathaway’s 2021 shareholders meeting when asked about Chevron’s role in climate change.
Buffett, who turned 92 on Aug. 30, 2022, began his career in the early 1960s. As he aged, many investors and analysts grew concerned about the absence of a formal succession plan at Berkshire Hathaway. At the company’s 2021 shareholders meeting, Buffett said he expects to be succeeded as CEO by Greg Abel, head of the company’s Berkshire Energy Holdings power and natural gas distribution subsidiary.
What Is In the Rest of the Top 10?
Warren Buffett runs the Berkshire Hathaway holding company, which, in turn, is a major shareholder in a number of large public companies. After the top five listed above, Berkshire’s next largest public company investments include
- The Kraft Heinz Company (KHC)
- Occidental Petroleum Corp. (OXY)
- Moody’s Corp. (MCO)
- Activision Blizzard Inc. (ATVI)
- HP Inc (HPQ)
In addition to its stakes in publicly listed companies, Berkshire Hathaway owns numerous subsidiaries, including GEICO Insurance, BNSF Railways, Duracell, and International Dairy Queen Inc., among many others.
Will Berkshire Hathaway Buy Occidental Petroleum?
No, according to Warren Buffett at the 2023 annual meeting. “There’s speculation about us buying control, we’re not going to buy control. … We wouldn’t know what to do with it,” he said.
Which Railroad Does Warren Buffett Own?
BNSF Railways (formerly Burlington Northern Santa Fe) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.
Which Insurance Companies Does Warren Buffett Own?
Berkshire owns several insurance companies including GEICO, Cypress Insurance, General Re, Berkshire Hathaway Re, National Fire & Marine Insurance Co., and National Indemnity Co.
What Is the Origin of Berkshire Hathaway’s Name?
The Berkshire Hathaway name originated with the 1955 merger of Berkshire Fine Spinning Associates of Adams, Massachusetts, and the Hathaway Manufacturing Company of New Bedford, Massachusetts. Buffett began accumulating Berkshire Hathaway shares in 1962 and bought the company outright in 1964.
He had agreed to sell his stock to management, only to discover that the tender offer’s price was below what he had been promised. “This made me mad,” Buffett recalled. He bought the first insurance business for Berkshire Hathaway in 1967 and closed the company’s last textile mill in 1985.
The Bottom Line
As investors go, Warren Buffett is the cream of the crop. His investment model is simple: buy blue-chip stocks (dividends never hurt anyone) at reasonable valuations and hold them for the long term. He also looks favorably at companies with strong management teams and solid balance sheets.
He relies on a trusted team of advisors, most importantly Charlie Munger, his partner since the early days of Berkshire Hathaway as an investment vehicle, to help make his investment decisions.