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Warren Buffett’s company recommits to Bank of America stock while dumping other banks

OMAHA, NEBRASKA (AP) – Investor Warren Buffett recommitted to his favourite bank stock, Bank of America, during the first quarter while dumping two other banks as part of a number of moves in Berkshire Hathaway’s stock portfolio.

Berkshire provided a quarterly update on its United States (US) holdings on Monday in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Many investors follow the company’s moves closely because of Buffett’s remarkably successful investing record over the decades.

Berkshire slightly increased its 179.4 million share stake in Bank of America stock while eliminating long-time stakes in US Bancorp and the Bank of New York Mellon. Buffett has eliminated a number of bank investments in recent years, but he continues to back Bank of America.

Berkshire also picked up nearly 10 million shares of Capital One stock.

The quarterly filings don’t identify which investments Buffett made and which ones were done by one of Berkshire’s two other investment managers, but Buffett generally handles all of Berkshire’s biggest investments worth USD1 billion or more. Buffett doesn’t regularly comment on these stock filings.

Berkshire continued to reduce its Activision Blizzard stake in the quarter down to 49.4 million shares from 52.7 million at the start of the year. Buffett has said he bought that stock as a way to bet that Microsoft’s acquisition of the video game maker will ultimately go through.

That deal is in doubt after British regulators rejected it and US regulators sued to block it although the European Union did endorse Microsoft’s purchase on Monday.

Berkshire also cut its General Motors investment down to 40 million shares from the previous quarter’s 50 million. Monday’s report doesn’t include the biggest investment move Berkshire has made over the past year to sell more than half of its stake in Chinese electric carmaker BYD.

Those sales, which have generated several billion dollars for Berkshire, are reported separately on the Hong Kong stock exchange. At the last update on that investment, Berkshire held about 108 million BYD shares worth roughly USD3.3 billion.

Until last August, Berkshire held 225 million shares that it bought in 2008 for USD232 million.

The value of that BYD investment had ballooned to more than USD9.5 billion last summer before Buffett began selling.

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