Buffett copycats risk a pounding as Berkshire portfolio suffers

Thu Oct 23, 2014 8:06am EDT
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By Luciana Lopez

NEW YORK (Reuters) - It's not been a good time for Warren Buffett wannabes.

Sharp drops in many of the stocks owned by Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway in recent weeks hit the sprawling conglomerate's equity portfolio hard. The loss on seven of those holdings alone totals more than $5 billion provided Berkshire's stakes have remained the same since June 30, the last date for which they were disclosed.

In particular, Berkshire's been stung by large holdings in IBM and long-time Buffett favorite Coca-Cola, both of which tumbled after disappointing third-quarter results. His penchant for energy stocks hasn't helped either, given the damage done to the prices of energy assets by the slumping global oil price.

For the world's third richest man, unrealized losses of a few billion dollars aren't necessarily anything to cry about.

Buffett's ability to sit tight and ride out short-term market gyrations has been one of the keys to his success as a long-term investor. And unlike, say, mutual fund managers, he doesn't have to worry about redemptions forcing him to sell stock.

But for others - fund managers, smaller institutions, even retail investors - who often try to follow in Buffett's footsteps, the losses could be harder to get over.

Berkshire Hathaway did not respond to requests for comment.

With 400 million shares of Coke on June 30, Berkshire is the company's largest shareholder - and Buffett is perhaps the world's most famous Cherry Coke fan.   Continued...

Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett talks with a shareholder before the company's annual meeting in Omaha May 4, 2013.  REUTERS/Rick Wilking