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Berkshire dumps shares in TSMC, banks; increases Apple stake

Published 02/14/2023, 01:54 PM
Updated 02/15/2023, 02:05 AM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, arrives to attend the annual Allen and Co. Sun Valley Media Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, U.S., July 5, 2022.   REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By Carolina Mandl and Sittrarasu S

NEW YORK/BANGALORE (Reuters) -Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRKa) Inc slashed its stake in Taiwanese contract chipmaker TSMC as well as in some banks in the fourth quarter, while bolstering its holdings in Apple Inc.

Berkshire cut its position in Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC) by 86.2% to 8.29 million sponsored American depositary shares, according to a regulatory filing.

This comes roughly three months after Berkshire unveiled it bought more than $4.1 billion worth of TSMC stock, which sent shares of the world's largest contract chipmaker soaring.

TSMC depository receipts fell 4% in U.S. after hours trade on Tuesday. In Taiwan, TSMC shares opened down 3.3% as Asian markets started Wednesday trading.

Depositary shares in TSMC, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment, have surged almost 32% this year, closing at $97.96 on Tuesday.

"Berkshire made a small profit on TSMC. It was not a huge, huge win for Berkshire," said Cathy Seifert, a CFRA Research analyst. According to her calculations, Berkshire bought it for roughly $68.5 and sold for $74.5.

It is rare but not unprecedented for Berkshire to quickly undo a multi-billion dollar investment in a company's stock. In the first quarter of 2022, Berkshire sold nearly all of what had been an $8.3 billion stake in Verizon Communications Inc (NYSE:VZ) that it amassed in late 2020.

TSMC last month said revenue in the first quarter is likely to dip 5% as it weathers a global downturn in the chip industry because of softening consumer demand for electronics. TSMC executives have said they do not expect market conditions to improve until the second half of the year.

Besides TSMC, Buffett also divested 91.4% of its shares in US Bancorp (NYSE:USB), to 6.7 million shares, and shrunk its stake in BNY Mellon (NYSE:BK) by roughly 60%, to 25.1 million shares. Both cuts totaled nearly $5.5 billion at current prices.

Buffett's conglomerate also holds shares in Citigroup Inc (NYSE:C), Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) and Jefferies.

Berkshire trimmed some positions across its portfolio of U.S. listed companies, including Chevron (NYSE:CVX), Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI), maker of the "Call of Duty" video game, and Kroger (NYSE:KR).

Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ:MSFT) is making efforts to conclude the acquisition of Activision Blizzard. On Feb. 21, Microsoft will defend the deal in front of European Union and national antitrust officials at a closed hearing.

Among Berkshire's few additions are Apple, which Buffett views more as a consumer products company. Berkshire bought another 20.8 million Apple shares (NASDAQ:AAPL) worth $3.2 billion, raising its stake to 5.8%, according to the filing.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, arrives to attend the annual Allen and Co. Sun Valley Media Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, U.S., July 5, 2022.   REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Shares in Apple have surged nearly 18% this year.

Berkshire also disclosed a new stake of $84 million in building materials company Louisiana-Pacific (NYSE:LPX) Corp.

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