Berkshire Takes GM, Viacom Stakes as Deputies Buy Stocks

Earning Power

“I don’t think the earning power of Wal-Mart five years from now will be materially affected by the outcome of this situation,” Buffett said at the meeting on May 5.

The firm’s stake in Procter & Gamble Co., the world’s largest consumer-products maker, fell to 73.3 million shares from 76.8 million. The Cincinnati-based company has struggled to raise prices for some products and compete against low-cost competitors, Buffett told CNBC in a May 7 interview.

Berkshire’s stock portfolio climbed to $89.1 billion on March 31 from $77 billion at the end of December, according to a regulatory filing. Buffett’s firm is the largest shareholder in companies including Coca-Cola Co., Wells Fargo & Co. and American Express Co.

Buffett, whose company has more than $20 billion invested in U.S. banks, said at the May 5 meeting that the nation’s lenders are in better shape than European rivals. Berkshire added 3.81 million shares of Bank of New York Mellon Corp., the world’s largest custody bank, bringing its total holdings to 5.61 million shares.

Confidential Information

Buffett’s firm said in the document that confidential information has been filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, “implying that Berkshire is likely building a new sizable position,” Meyer Shields, an analyst with Stifel Nicolaus & Co., said in a note to clients today.

The SEC sometimes allows companies to withhold data from the public to limit copycat investing while building or cutting a position. Buffett’s firm requested confidential treatment in filings last year, as he spent more than $10 billion amassing a stake in International Business Machines Corp.

Berkshire boosted its stake in Armonk, New York-based IBM by about 1 percent to 64.4 million shares. Buffett’s firm cut its stake in Intel Corp. by 33 percent to 7.75 million shares at March 31. The Santa Clara, California based-company’s processors run more than 80 percent of the world’s personal computers.

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