Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway bets big on US stock market

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway bet big on the US stock market in the first quarter, buying $51.1bn of shares, as he put the sprawling conglomerate’s cash pile to work as financial markets slid from record heights.

It is a dramatic shift from an investor who had been a seller of stocks for the past two years, warning of high valuations and little in the market that would generate substantive returns.

But global financial markets have weakened in recent months, as Russia invaded Ukraine and fears of a Chinese economic slowdown have rattled investor confidence.

That has offered him a more attractive entry, according to analysts and investors who have been warmed by the vote of confidence in the stock market from the so-called Oracle of Omaha.

The furious pace of stock purchases was enough to put a dent in Berkshire’s cash pile, which Buffett has often likened to a war chest. Its cash fell to $106.3bn at the end of March from just under $147bn at year end. The company’s first quarter report showed it had sold $9.7bn of stock during the period, indicating it was a net buyer of $41bn of shares at the start of the year — among its most active quarters in recent memory.

The report showed Berkshire had sharply increased its ownership of energy company Chevron, listing its $25.9bn stake as one of its top five holdings in a stock portfolio now worth $390bn. The investment in Chevron accompanies billions of dollars worth of stock purchases in oil major Occidental…

Read more…