Buffett's Berkshire Buys Kroger, Biogen, Trims Wells Fargo, Goldman Stakes

Warren Buffett Invests in Kroger

Warren Buffett's investment firm Berkshire Hathaway sold more than $800 million of Apple stock in the last quarter of 2019.

It disclosed the ownership stake in Kroger as part of a Form 13F filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, revealing it had invested almost $550 million in Kroger stock, acquiring slightly more than 2% of its outstanding shares. Berkshire is Apple's biggest shareholder with a 5.4% stake worth $72 billion, according to Bloomberg data.

Buffett's company has been trimming its stakes in some major lenders to try to avoid crossing a 10% ownership threshold that often draws regulatory scrutiny. The insurer also made two new-money purchases during the period, picking up 0.6 million shares of Biogen for an estimated $170 million and 18.9 million shares of Kroger for an estimated $520 million.

Many smaller chains have fared worse, and Earth Fare, Fairway and Lucky's have sought bankruptcy protection this year.

During the quarter, Berkshire reduced the size of its positions in Wells Fargo (WFC), Goldman Sachs (GS), and Bank of America (BAC). Kroger is homing in on areas of growth outside supermarkets, such as foodservice and e-commerce, and investing heavily to build out next-generation fulfillment through a partnership with British online retailer Ocado.

The Goldman stake shrank 35% to 12 million shares worth $2.8 billion.

According to a 13-F regulatory filing, Berkshire added almost 19 million shares of Kroger (KR), worth about $549 million at the end of the fourth quarter.

Kroger shares rose 3.9 per cent and Biogen rose 1.5 per cent in after-hours trading, a sign of investors' regard for Mr Buffet and the Omaha, Nebraska-based conglomerate he has run since 1965.

Friday's filing does not say who bought or sold particular stocks, though Buffett normally directs big investments such as Wells Fargo and Apple Inc. That stake had its origins in Buffett's lucrative foray into Goldman preferred stock during the GFC as Berkshire supported the then struggling Wall Street giant.

Mr Buffet's company also has more than 90 operating units including Geico, the BNSF railroad, Dairy Queen ice cream and namesake energy, real estate brokerage and auto dealer businesses.

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