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Buffett's Berkshire bets on Big Pharma, invests in four drugmakers

Stock MarketsNov 16, 2020 11:06PM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc, pauses while playing bridge as part of the company annual meeting weekend in Omaha 2/2

By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) - Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRKa) Inc said on Monday it has begun investing in the stocks of four large drugmakers, betting on an industry that could benefit when the world begins emerging from the coronavirus pandemic.

In a regulatory filing detailing its U.S.-listed stock holdings as of Sept. 30, Berkshire disclosed $5.7 billion of new healthcare stakes, including more than $1.8 billion each in Abbvie Inc, Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY) Co, Merck & Co and $136 million in Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE)

Shares of the drugmakers rose in after-hours trading.

The filing signals where Buffett and his portfolio managers Todd Combs and Ted Weschler see value. Buffett normally handles large investments for Berkshire's $245.3 billion stock portfolio himself.

"COVID-19 has made us think differently about healthcare," said James Armstrong, president of Henry H. Armstrong & Associates in Pittsburgh, which owns Berkshire stock.

"The sector has become more efficient as big drug companies partner with smaller, inventive rivals," Armstrong added. "But you will always need companies with scale for manufacturing and distribution, including vaccines with global application."

Berkshire did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

During the third quarter, Berkshire also took a $276 million stake in wireless phone company T-Mobile US (NASDAQ:TMUS) Inc.

It sold a $1.3 billion stake in Costco Wholesale Corp (NASDAQ:COST), which benefited as people stocked up on groceries and home supplies during the pandemic, and pared holdings in four banks: JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM), Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC), PNC and M&T.

The stake in JPMorgan, where Combs is a director, fell by 96%.

Berkshire also bought more stock in the grocer Kroger (NYSE:KR), sold some stock in mining company Barrick Gold (NYSE:GOLD), and confirmed it bought more Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) stock while trimming its Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) stake.

The healthcare bet is structured similarly to the more than $6 billion wager that Buffett made on the four largest U.S. airlines.

Buffett sold Berkshire's airline holdings in April, saying the pandemic had changed the industry and made its outlook uncertain.

Other new investments in the quarter included a $6 billion stake in five Japanese trading houses and a $1.5 billion wager on newly public data storage company Snowflake Inc.

Berkshire also has more than 90 operating units including Geico car insurance, BNSF railroad and Dairy Queen ice cream.

Buffett's Berkshire bets on Big Pharma, invests in four drugmakers
 

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Comments (5)
Matt Kay
Matt Kay Nov 17, 2020 7:40AM ET
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Does anyone care about this boomer? This guy preaches diversification yet has 50% of his cash in apple. what a joke
Musical Critic
Musical Critic Nov 17, 2020 1:02AM ET
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Hes been hibernating..
David David
David9 Nov 16, 2020 11:22PM ET
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He doesn't need to sell Costco. Dude still has $150B in his purse...
Aditya Aditya
Aditya Aditya Nov 16, 2020 10:43PM ET
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why trade in a new car for an old? sell you fool..
BiG DaDDy CK
BiG DaDDy CK Nov 16, 2020 9:08PM ET
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Buffet has lost it. BMY, C’mom Man!!
 
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