Buffett Adds to Deere & Exits Exxon

Berkshire Hathaway, run by CEO and Chairman Warren Buffett, sold off roughly $4 billion worth of Exxon Mobil shares during the fourth quarter of 2014. This move was obviously spurred by the major drop in oil prices that have damaged all energy company profits, with Exxon included.

In total, Berkshire Hathaway sold off roughly 41,000,000 shares of Exxon, initially buying up the stock in 2013 during the third quarter and then adding to it slightly over time during other quarters. The position had placed Berkshire Hathaway as one of the largest Exxon shareholders, and earlier this month the company was trying to figure out ways to cut costs due to falling profit during the fourth quarter.

Berkshire Hathaway also sold a small position that they had in Conoco Phillips, and they even cut their stake in National Oilwell Varco, a company that focuses on making drilling equipment for the gas and oil industry. They cut their share in NOV by 18%. On Tuesday, investors that manage more than $100 million were required to make this regulatory filing by the SEC.

Another revelation in the filing was that Berkshire Hathaway increased their stake in Deere & Co., a farmland equipment maker, to $1.5 billion. More than likely, Berkshire Hathaway CEO and Chairman Warren Buffett is the one that picked this stock. The smaller stock picks come from the two investment managers at the firm, Ted Weschler and Todd Combs. The larger stock purchases almost always come directly from Warren Buffett himself.

Berkshire Hathaway held 3.9 million shares of Deere during the second quarter of 2014, according to a regulatory filing. But they initially withheld this information from the original filing for the third quarter. Berkshire requests confidential treatment from the Securities and Exchange Commission in an effort to secretly build their position. Berkshire also released an amended third quarter filing on Tuesday. In this amended filing we learn that Berkshire Hathaway increased their stake in Deere to 7.9 million shares during the third quarter. And as of the fourth quarter, they increase their stake even further to 17.1 million shares of Deere, which turns out to be 5% of the total shares available for the company.

Collectively, Ted Weschler and Todd Combs oversee $18 billion worth of the Berkshire Hathaway stock portfolio. At the end of the fourth quarter, the total portfolio is worth $109 billion.

The investing conglomerate based out of Omaha, Nebraska, as in previous quarters, has continued to add to certain positions in the portfolio including their media holdings. They purchased shares of 21st Century Fox in the amount of $182 million. This company was formed during 2013 when they split from News Corp., the owner of the Wall Street Journal.

Another revelation coming from Berkshire Hathaway is that they now own over $1 billion worth of shares in Charter Communications, the cable operator. Other media stocks owned by Berkshire Hathaway include Media General Inc., DirecTV, Liberty Global PLC and Graham Holdings Co.

Warren Buffett also added to his IBM stake during the fourth quarter. This is one of the Big Four holdings at Berkshire Hathaway. The company purchased another 6.5 million additional shares of International Business Machines Corp. during this time. Its entire stake in the company is now 77 million shares that are valued at $12.4 billion as of December 31 of last year. As far as the other Big Four stocks go, Berkshire maintained its stake in Coca-Cola, Wells Fargo and American Express.

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