Five Telling Moves Warren Buffett Just Made

Warren Buffett is known as the world’s foremost value investor. So it’s always helpful to know which stocks he’s buying and selling.

Thanks to Berkshire Hathaway’s (NYSE: BRK-B) quarterly SEC filings, you can. As a public holding company, Berkshire Hathaway is required to divulge every stock it buys or sells and every position it adds to or subtracts from.

Since Warren Buffett owns the company, the public filings give us a quarterly glimpse into what the uber-investor is thinking.

Judging by Berkshire Hathaway’s latest filing, Mr. Buffett was a busy man last quarter.

Last week I told you about the one stake – Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) – the company decided to sell off completely in Q2 2012.

Here are five other interesting moves Mr. Buffett and company made last quarter:

1. Added oil exposure. Berkshire Hathaway bought shares in ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) spin-off Phillips 66 (NYSE: PSX) and National Oilwell Varco (NYSE: NOV), a manufacturer and seller of oil and gas drilling equipment. Berkshire’s stake in the two companies is relatively minor, but the fact that two of the three new additions to Berkshire’s portfolio were oil-related stocks tells you a little bit about where Buffett thinks oil is headed.

2. Newspaper stock? That’s right – Warren Buffett invested in a newspaper company. Is it because the famously technology-averse investor simply prefers reading newspapers? Perhaps. But Berkshire’s stated reason for investing in the small Iowa-based newspaper company Lee Enterprises (NYSE: LEE) was because Mr. Buffett believes that newspapers with local or regional focuses can still succeed. As a former local newspaper reporter myself, I hope he’s right.

3. Bullish on Big Blue. IBM (NYSE: IBM) is one of the few technology companies Buffett has felt comfortable investing in. He bought shares in the company in the third quarter of 2011. It’s already Berkshire’s third largest position. Buffett and friends only added to that position last quarter, increasing their stake in IBM by 3.5%. So far Buffett’s bet on Big Blue has paid off – the stock has gained 26% in the year since Berkshire bought it.

4. Bank Buys. Berkshire added 4% to its stake in Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC), which was already the company’s second largest position. And with good reason. Wells Fargo has been the one big bank that has actually managed to grow its profits in a meaningful way of late. That’s why its shares are up more than 21% in 2012. On a much smaller scale, Berkshire also added shares of the regional Bank of New York Mellon Corp. (NYSE: BK), tripling its stake in the company last quarter.

5. Old Stalwarts No More? Johnson &Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), Kraft Foods (NASDAQ: KFT) and Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG) are three of the most reliable stocks on the market. All three have been growing their dividends for years, and each of them boasts a beta of less than 0.5. But Berkshire significantly reduced its stake in both Kraft and P&G last quarter, and held its JNJ shares steady. Perhaps Mr. Buffett thinks these three companies are no longer the old stalwarts they once were. 

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