Berkshire buys Teva, bites more Apple, feels IBM blues


According to Berkshire's latest quarterly filing, the conglomerate increased its holdings of Apple by 23.3% over the course of the quarter. Buffett, who for years told his followers that technology companies are out of his area of expertise, started buying Apple shares in 2016.

The purchase shows the influence of Buffett's investment deputies, Berkshire portfolio managers Todd Combs and Ted Weschler.

Last month, Berkshire said it would work with Inc and JPMorgan Chase & Co to create their own healthcare company.

The new holdings of 165.3m shares is worth $28bn. Even though Apple has performed quite well over the past couple years, Buffett and his team clearly think it still represents a compelling value. He added that he'd never sold a share of Apple. It now owns just 3.2% of the iPhone giant and is still sitting on a cash stockpile of more than $100 billion.

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Berkshire also reported higher stakes in Bank of New York Mellon, Monsanto and US Bancorp and lower stakes in American Airlines Group, General Motors, France's Sanofi and Wells Fargo. Berkshire owns many bank stocks in its portfolio, and these are two of the best-run institutions in the sector. After selling 94.5% of its IBM shares, Buffet's business now owns just 2.05 million IBM shares. The Israeli drugmaker took on a mountain of loans in 2016 to bulk up its copycat medicines business as profit margins declined in the US, the world's most lucrative market for pharmaceutical companies. Shares of Teva are up 2 percent so far this year and down 47.4 percent since last February.

Well, IBM rallied a bit during the fourth quarter of 2017, and apparently that was enough to send Berkshire heading for the exits. The stake is worth about $378 million at Thursday's prices.

Berkshire said it held 18.9 million shares of Teva at the end of the year. The ownership in Q3 2015 is extremely high, at Infinity of the outstanding shares. Last May, the billionaire investor said he had liquidated almost one third of his stake in IBM.

That means Apple overtook Wells Fargo as Berkshire Hathaway's biggest common stock investment. We won't know what he's buying now until mid-May, but many of its investors are probably hoping for more buying, especially after the recent market correction.