Berkshire takes bigger bite of Apple, pares Wal-Mart
By Jonathan Stempel
(Reuters) - Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N: Quote) on Monday said it has increased its stake in Apple Inc (AAPL.O: Quote) by 55 percent, boosting its bet on the iPhone and iPod maker even as prominent investors like George Soros and Carl Icahn shed theirs.
Berkshire owned 15.23 million Apple shares worth $1.46 billion as of June 30, up from 9.81 million shares as of March 31, according to a regulatory filing from Buffett's Omaha, Nebraska-based conglomerate.
The filing also said Berkshire cut its stake in Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N: Quote), the world's largest retailer, by 27 percent to about 40.23 million shares from 55.24 million. Wal-Mart has been in Berkshire's portfolio for more than a decade.
It was unclear whether Buffett or one of his portfolio managers, Todd Combs and Ted Weschler, are investing in Apple.
Berkshire owned more than $133 billion of equities as of June 30. Buffett is typically responsible for larger investments such as Wal-Mart, while his deputies handle smaller investments.
"They have more of a trading orientation than Buffett, and may view Apple as attractive because the stock appears cheap or may have a catalyst later this year," Jim Shanahan, an equity analyst at Edward Jones, said in a phone interview. "If Warren Buffett is buying a stock, he's probably not going to sell it, or at least not sell for a very long time."
Berkshire also owns roughly 90 businesses including Geico car insurance, the BNSF railroad, Dairy Queen ice cream, Duracell batteries, and Fruit of the Loom underwear. It also paid $32.1 billion in January for aircraft and industrial parts maker Precision Castparts Corp, Buffett's largest purchase.
Share prices often rise when investors perceive that Berkshire has given them its imprimatur, including the 3.7 percent one-day boost that Apple got in May after Berkshire unexpectedly revealed it had taken a stake. Continued...