There were a few surprises in wide-moat Berkshire Hathaway's (BRK.B) fourth-quarter 13-F filing, with most coming as a result of actions the firm made during the third quarter following the company's amendment of its September quarter filing to note that it had acquired 58.3 million shares of Verizon (worth $3.5 billion at the end of the third quarter) 44.3 million shares of Chevron ($3.2 billion) and 3.4 million shares of Marsh & McLennan ($386 million) before the end of that period. The insurer followed those transactions during the fourth quarter with the purchase of 88.4 million shares of Verizon (for an estimated $5.2 billion), 4.2 million shares of Chevron (for $331 million) and 0.9 million shares of Marsh & McLennan (for $104 million). Berkshire also added to its stakes in Merck (6.3 million shares for an estimated $518 million), AbbVie (4.3 million for $416 million), T-Mobile (2.8 million for $352 million), Kroger (8.6 million for $281 million), Bristol-Myers Squibb (3.4 million for $206 million) and Restoration Hardware (24,200 for $10 million).
While the company raised an estimated $10.6 billion during the period by selling positions in 11 different stocks, the trimming of stakes in Apple (57.2 million shares for an estimated $7.1 billion) and Wells Fargo (75.0 million shares for $2.0 billion) accounted for most of the capital raised. In addition to those two moves, the insurer sold 7.5 million shares of General Motors (for an estimated $267 million), 5.4 million shares of Suncor Energy (for $78 million), 0.8 million shares of US Bancorp (for $34 million) and 146,177 shares of Liberty Latin America (for $1 million). Berkshire also eliminated its stakes in M&T Bank (raising an estimated $320 million), Barrick Gold ($305 million), PNC Financial ($249 million), Pfizer ($136 million) and JPMorgan Chase ($108 million). Of interest is the fact that the firm had only recently taken stakes in Barrick Gold (in the second quarter) and Pfizer (third quarter).
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