Over the past two years, Warren Buffett seemed to lose his appetite for the stock market. The first quarter of 2022 radically reverses the trend. Berkshire Hathaway, the Oracle of Omaha group, returned to the scene with the purchase of more than $51 billion in stock in the first quarter of 2022.
Operations range from the insurance sector to the games, to strong growth in exposure to the oil industry. Buffett, speaking in Omaha at the annual shareholder meeting, described the markets as a “corridor” and reiterated his hostility to more speculative investment (“it’s obscene”). At the same time, he said, fluctuations in the listings have allowed him to find an undervalued business and get back on the road with big operations, drawing on cash approaching $150 billion at the end of 2021.
From HP to Chevron, the “Oracle” acquisition boom
The list of transactions concluded in the first quarter includes a Deal From $11.6 billion to takeover of the Ghanaian Insurance Group and heavy stock purchases of Occidental Petroleum Group (Berkshire today owns 14% of the company, worth more than $7 billion) and computer giant HP: Buffett, who was anti-tech. The sector, its stake in the group to 11%, valued at 4.4 billion as of May 1, 2022.
Energy and technology are always the backdrop for two other big operations in the early months of the year. On the first front, Berkshire has significantly increased its stake in oil giant Chevron, from a stake of $4.5 billion at the end of 2021 to $25.9 billion at the end of March 2021. Today, the value has risen to more than $27 billion, for a stake affecting 7.7 % of the group’s portfolio and makes Chevron one of the four largest holdings with Apple (143 billion, equivalent to 40.5% of the group’s portfolio), Bank of America (36.8 billion, 10.4%) and American Express (26.4 billion, 7.5%). Second, on the technology front, Buffett got his hands on millions of shares in Activision Blizzard, a video game company in Microsoft’s crosshairs. Berkshire’s interest in Activision began before the Redmond giant began its acquisition. Buffett now controls 9.5% of the stock, worth more than $5 billion, making him the company’s largest shareholder.
Berkshire Hathaway finished 2021 with high profits and a cashbook of $147.6 billion, now down to “only” $106.2 billion after acquisition fever in the early months of the year. The good results of the group and the solidity of its reserves Cash Until a few months ago, they were benchmarking themselves against voiding operations and weight advertisements on the acquisitions side. According to the Wall Street Journal, Buffett could have woken up with two reports that led him to invest first in Ghanaian and then in Occidental Petroleum. In the oil company’s case, Buffett was persuaded to buy millions of shares after learning from an analyst’s observation that the group’s stock was hovering below its 2011 highs.