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Buffett’s firm ups Kroger stake while trimming drug holdings

Aug. 16, 2021 Updated Mon., Aug. 16, 2021 at 8:04 p.m.

Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett  (Associated Press)
Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett (Associated Press)
By Josh Funk Associated Press

OMAHA, Neb. – Billionaire Warren Buffett’s company has again increased the size of its bet on grocery giant Kroger, while scaling back several of its health care industry investments.

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. said in a quarterly update with regulators Monday that it picked up nearly 11 million shares of Kroger stock during the second quarter, raising its holdings to 61.8 million shares. Buffett’s company has been steadily adding to its Kroger holdings in recent quarters.

Berkshire also sold off its 643,022 shares of biotechnology firm Biogen and cut its investments in drugmakers Merck, Abbvie Inc. and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. At the same time, Berkshire reported a new 1.6 million share stake in Merck spinoff Organon & Co.

During the quarter, Berkshire also sold its nearly 14 million shares of paint maker Axalta Coating Systems to eliminate that holding.

Many investors follow the company’s investments closely because of Buffett’s remarkably successful track record.

Berkshire officials, however, don’t generally comment on these quarterly filings. And the quarterly filing doesn’t make clear which investments Buffett made. The billionaire handles the biggest investments in Berkshire’s portfolio, such as Apple, Coca-Cola and Bank of America. He has said that investments of less than $1 billion are likely to be the work of Berkshire’s two other investment managers.

Berkshire also reduced its stake in automaker General Motors by 7 million shares to 60 million shares. And it trimmed its holdings in oil producer Chevron, professional services firm Marsh & McLennan, US Bancorp and media company Liberty Global.

The biggest investments in Berkshire’s portfolio, Apple and Bank of America, remained unchanged during the second quarter.

Besides investments, the Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire owns more than 90 companies outright, including BNSF railroad, Geico insurance and several major utilities. The conglomerate also owns manufacturing, furniture, shoe, jewelry, chocolate, underwear and brick companies.

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