As of mid-June, Berkshire Hathaway’s Class A shares were trading at around $403,000, down from a high of around $539,000 at the end of March. Despite losing a quarter of its value in the last three miserable months, shares of Warren Buffett‘s company have risen by 5,568.72% since 1990 alone.
Between the time he took over as CEO in 1965 and March of this year, Warren Buffett added $790 billion in shareholder value, according to Motley Fool, for an aggregate return of 4,355,005% on the company’s Class A shares.
It’s not magic. It’s the result of the kind of wise investments that have made Buffett the most famous and successful investor in history.
Here’s a look at the bets that worked out best for “The Oracle of Omaha,” who filed his first tax return at the age of 13 and went on to become the No. 5 richest person in the world.
Buffett’s love affair with Apple is a well-known fact. Accounting for 38.9% of the Berkshire portfolio, Apple is Buffett’s biggest holding by a mile.
In mid-June, Apple was trading at around $132, down from a peak of $180 at the end of 2021 and $174 in March. According to Barron’s, those gruesome first-quarter results have cost Buffett $30 billion. Even so, Berkshire still sits on $90 billion in Apple profits.
Buffett paid $31.089 billion to acquire 907,559,761 shares of Apple, according to its 2021 shareholders letter, which is a cost basis of just $34.26 per share.
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The ratings agency Moody’s accounts for 2.1% of Berkshire’s portfolio, and Buffett has long been on the stock since 2000 when it spun off from Dun & Bradstreet.
According to Motley Fool, Buffett paid $248 million to acquire 24,669,778 shares at a cost basis of $10.05 per share. In mid-June, Moody’s was trading at around $255 for a gain of more than 2,437%.
That, however, doesn’t even account for the profits Berkshire made from selling some of its Moody’s stock over the last two-plus decades, nor does it account for the dividends Moody’s has paid in the previous 22 years. Those two factors add hundreds more percentage points to the tally.
Coca-Cola is one of the rare stocks that is not in the red this year. It’s up about 25 cents per share, or 0.42%, since the start of 2022.
Berkshire Hathaway owns exactly 400 million shares of Coke — 9.2% of the company and 7.8% of the Berkshire portfolio. The stake cost Buffett $1.3 billion, according to Market Insider, and Berkshire hasn’t touched its shares in the ensuing 27 years. In mid-June, its shares were worth more than $24 billion for a 19-fold gain of 1,800%.
Coke pays Berkshire $672 million in dividend income per year — up from $88 million in 1995.
Despite a miserable June, Chevron is still up nearly 23% on the year. No surprise, Buffett has bet big on energy. At the end of 2021, Berkshire owned $4.5 billion worth of Chevron, but by the end of March, that number had grown to $25.9 billion, according to CNBC.
Although the bet proves Buffett’s faith in the oil industry’s continued strength, it also reflects his long-standing belief in the value of dividend stocks. According to Motley Fool, Berkshire will collect more than $6 billion in dividend income in the next 12 months. Nearly one dollar in six of that mountain of passive income will come from Chevron and its beefy 3.6% yield — $904,131,705, to be exact — making the energy giant Buffett’s top income engine.
Occidental Petroleum (OXY)
Buffett’s No. 2 top dividend stock is also an oil giant. Buffett bet big on Occidental after chatting with the company’s CEO on a February earnings call, according to Market Insider. Berkshire has invested $7.5 billion in OXY this year alone, upping its share to more than 15% of the company, a stake that represents 2.6% of Berkshire’s holdings.
Despite falling from a late-May peak of nearly $71 to its current price of $55 per share, Occidental is still up more than 77% on the year. It had been up 106%, making Buffett’s big bet the top performer on the entire S&P 500. The company will pay Berkshire $874,444,444 in dividend income in the next 12 months, according to Motley Fool.
Kraft Heinz (KHC)
Multinational food giant Kraft Heinz represents 3.8% of the Berkshire portfolio. While it’s not one of Buffett’s flashiest stocks, it shows the mastery that Buffett continues to display when it comes to playing defense.
As a consumer staples stock, Kraft Heinz doesn’t sway too much with the market winds because it sells everyday things that people need and find a way to buy no matter the state of the economy. Buffett has long used his shares as a hedge — and the current downturn once again proves the wisdom of his strategy.
In mid-May, when the S&P was down 15%, Kraft Heinz was up 25%. As of mid-June, it was down 2.8% year to date, but even that provides a powerful counterweight. For context, the S&P was down more than 23% on the year. The Nasdaq had lost nearly one-third of its value.
The company that might just be Buffett’s best investment of all isn’t one that you can buy shares of on the stock market — that’s because it’s one of the dozens of companies that Berkshire Hathaway owns outright.
It wasn’t always that way, though.
Starting in 1976, Buffett began buying up stock in GEICO, a run that continued until 1996. By that time, he owned about half the company. That same year, he purchased the remaining 49%. Berkshire spent two decades and $2.35 billion gobbling up GEICO.
Today, the company is the crown jewel of Berkshire’s cluster of insurers, which represents the heart of the company. In his letter to his shareholders, Buffett called the insurance cluster the biggest of Berkshire’s “four giants.”
Today, GEICO’s assets are worth more than $32 billion.
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Note: All holdings are as of March 31 as reported in Berkshire Hathaway’s most recent 13F filing on May 16.