Airlines aren't the only sector that Warren Buffett , ahead of the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting.
According to the just filed , in the first quarter when the conglomerate's equity holdings took a record hit of $66.5 billion, as the value of Berkshire's disclosed equity positions tumbled from $242BN as of Dec 31, to $175.5BN on March 31, Buffett also sold the bulk, or 84%, of his Goldman Sachs stake - formerly a top 20 position for Berkshire - selling 10 million shares of what at Dec 31 was a 12 million position, while trimming 3% of his stake in JPMorgan (from 59.5MM to 57.7MM shares).
Buffett's sale of Goldman, which at one point plunged as much as 33% in the first quarter, was uncharacteristic for an investor who not only has been a big investor in banks in the past (selling, if anything, to keep the stakes below the 10% "active investor" level scrutinized by regulators), but also represents a U-turn from a company that Berkshire bailed out during the financial crisis with a costly $5 billion investment in the form of perpetual preferred stock that carried a 10% dividend.
This time, however, instead of "Buying American", as in his Oct 16, 2008 NYT Op-ed, Buffett has been quietly selling.
Besides cutting his position in Goldman and JPMorgan, Buffett also liquidated his stakes in Travelers and Phillips 66, a tiny stub of a holding that had been valued at more than $25 million at the end of the year.
Separately, Buffett also trimmed his positions in Davita (1%), Verisign (1%), Amazon (0.7%), GM (0.7%) and several other companies as shown in the table below. The only position increases in the quarter were in Delta airlines, where he added 1.3% to 71.9 million shares only to dump it all a few weeks later, and PNC Financial, just week before the bank decided to liquidate its entire 20% stake in Blackrock.
As a reminder, on May 3, Buffett announced that Berkshire had the 4 major US airlines, admitting he had made a mistake.