Berkshire adds National Oilwell shares as Buffett cuts P&G

Aug. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Berkshire Hathaway Inc. added a stake in National Oilwell Varco Inc. in the second quarter as billionaire Chairman Warren Buffett pared investments in consumer-products stocks including Procter & Gamble Co.

Buffett’s firm held 2.84 million shares of the oilfield- equipment maker as of June 30, his Omaha, Nebraska-based company said yesterday in a filing disclosing its U.S. stock portfolio. Berkshire’s P&G holding declined 19 percent to 59.6 million shares in the period. National Oilwell rose in New York trading.

Buffett, 81, built Berkshire over more than four decades into a firm valued at $210 billion through acquisitions and by amassing the largest equity stakes in companies including Coca- Cola Co., American Express Co. and Wells Fargo & Co. He’s been preparing for his eventual departure by handing more investment responsibilities to Ted Weschler and Todd Combs, former hedge- fund managers hired in the past two years.

“Shareholders should welcome that,” Jeff Matthews, a Berkshire investor and author of “Secrets in Plain Sight: Business & Investing Secrets of Warren Buffett,” said in a telephone interview. “Better to find out now if they’re up to the task.”

Buffett has said he makes larger investments while the deputies are responsible for smaller bets, such as a stake in General Motors Co. disclosed in May. Weschler and Combs will oversee about $4 billion each, compared with $2.75 billion at the beginning of the year, the billionaire told Betty Liu last month in an interview on Bloomberg Television.

National Oilwell

The National Oilwell holding was valued at about $183 million at the end of the second quarter. The company advanced 1.4 percent to $77.30 at 9:35 a.m. Katina Hargett, a spokeswoman for Houston-based National Oilwell, didn’t respond to an e-mail or calls requesting comment.

Buffett’s firm reported ownership of 27.2 million shares of Phillips 66, the refining company that began trading in May after it was spun off from ConocoPhillips. Weschler or Combs made additional purchases of the refiner beyond what Berkshire received for its existing stake in ConocoPhillips, the billionaire told Liu. The investment was valued at about $900 million on June 30. Phillips 66 advanced 0.9 percent.

P&G has had difficulty raising prices for some products as consumers consider less-expensive alternatives, Buffett told CNBC in May. His company’s stake in the maker of Tide laundry detergent and Gillette razors was valued at about $3.65 billion at the end of June.

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