Buffett’s Berkshire adds Biogen, Kroger Stakes; Climb stocks

(Bloomberg) – Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. has put funds into biotechnology company Biogen Inc. and supermarket operator Kroger Co. when it cut some of its bank betting stakes in the final months of 2019.

Berkshire’s Kroger investment, which totaled $ 549 million at year-end, was announced more than a year after Buffett’s sale of retail giant Walmart Inc. was sold. The company also increased its $ 192 million stake in Biogen while reducing its stakes in Wells Fargo & Co., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Bank of America Corp.

Kroger stock rose in late trade and the stock rose 5.6% to $ 29.81 at 4:59 p.m. in New York. Buffett’s company is banking on a company that is trying to navigate a changing retail landscape, with challenges from online food companies and discounters, including Walmart, a company that Berkshire finally left in 2018.

Biogen stock also rose 1.6% to $ 338.40 after Berkshire announced its stake. The conglomerate based in Omaha, Nebraska was historically not a major investor in the biotechnology industry, although the company already has a stake in the pharmaceutical company Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. has.

Both Biogen and Kroger stakes are low compared to some of Berkshire’s largest bets. The company’s Apple Inc. investment, which was reduced by 1.5% in the fourth quarter, was $ 72 billion at year-end.

Buffett’s company has reduced its stake in some major lenders to avoid exceeding a 10% ownership threshold, which is often subject to regulatory control. He was closer to that level with Wells Fargo and Bank of America, but only holds about 3.4% of Goldman Sachs.

Here are some other key insights from Berkshire’s 13F:

Berkshire has announced two new exchange-traded fund holdings in the Vanguard S & P 500 ETF and the SPDR S & P 500 ETF Trust. The bets were small investments totaling $ 25 million. Buffett’s company raised its bet on Occidental Petroleum Corp. and brought that investment to $ 780 million. Berkshire also owns preferred oil producer shares that Buffett has received under a contract to help Occidental in pursuing Anadarko Petroleum Corp. to support. Berkshire also increased its stake in furniture retailer RH, Suncor Energy Inc. and General Motors Co.For more Click here to go to our TOPLive blog on fourth quarter hedge fund investments in 13F filings.

(Updates with further information on bank investments from paragraph 2, Kroger and Biogen shares from paragraph 3)

To contact the reporter about this story: Katherine Chiglinsky in New York at kchiglinsky@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael J. Moore at mmoore55@bloomberg.net, Daniel Taub, Lananh Nguyen

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