Warren Buffett’s Stocks Made $16 Billion Since the Last Berkshire Hathaway Meeting
When Warren Buffett last hosted his Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting, the legendary investor had to face up to the fact that most of his stock picks had fallen over the previous year—a rare occurrence for one of the country’s most celebrated and successful investors. Now, as the Oracle of Omaha prepares to kick off this year’s Berkshire shareholder convention on Saturday, the opposite is true: The vast majority of the stocks Warren Buffett owns have made money over the past year, helping his portfolio gain some $16 billion dollars in value.
Fortune crunched the numbers through the market close Friday, the day before the meeting, adjusting for stocks Buffett has bought and sold in the meantime. The analysis found that of the 43 companies Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A) currently owns, all but seven have risen—and the winners are up much more than the losers are down. Buffett fans will get a chance to hear him discuss his stocks and their performance on Saturday, even if they’re not in Omaha, by tuning in to the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting live stream starting at 10 a.m. ET.
Here’s a brief report card on Buffett’s best—and worst—stock picks this year.
In a sign of Buffett’s investing prescience, a stock that no one expected him to buy has lately turned out to be his most successful bet: Apple (AAPL). It won’t surprise market watchers to know that Apple stock is the top performer in Buffett’s portfolio since the last Berkshire meeting, up about 59%. Apple, after all, was also the biggest winner in the Dow Jones industrial average in Donald Trump’s first 100 days as president.
Buffett, who for much of his career avoided tech stocks, has capitalized on that rally by doubling—or, if you will, sextupling—down on Apple stock: He owns six times as much of it now as he did at this time last year, making him one of the iPhone maker’s largest shareholders. That stake has gained nearly $2 billion in value this year alone.
Perhaps more surprising is Buffett’s second-best pick over the past year, as it has recently been known more for controversy than outperformance: United Airlines stock, up almost 44% since the investor bought it in the third quarter of 2016. The travel company United Continental Holdings (UAL) came under fire last month when a passenger was dragged off one of its overbooked flights, a fiasco that dragged as much as $90 million off the value of Buffett’s stake as United stock plummeted amid the ensuing outrage. The shares have since recovered, but Buffett may still field questions about the customer service debacle during Berkshire’s meeting Saturday.
In dollar terms, though, a few of Buffett’s picks with more modest returns were actually the most lucrative for the investor’s portfolio this past year, in large part because Berkshire Hathaway owns massive quantities of their shares. For example, Berkshire’s biggest holding, Kraft Heinz (KHC), rose less than 15%—underperforming the S&P 500, which is up more than 16% since Berkshire’s last annual meeting. But Buffett’s $29 billion stake in the macaroni and ketchup conglomerate is now worth about $3.8 billion more now than it was then. And Wells Fargo (WFC), still dealing with the fallout of its fake accounts scandal, is up just 10%, but Buffett’s position has gained almost $2.5 billion in value over that time. (Expect the stock picker to discuss the bank’s problems with its sales practices at the annual meeting.)
Lastly, Buffett’s major bet on American Express (AXP) contributed more to his returns than Apple, even though the credit card company’s shares are up a relatively modest 20% since last year’s meeting. Berkshire’s Amex stock has added nearly $2 billion in value in that period.
The worst performer in Buffett’s portfolio was DaVita (DVA), the health care dialysis company that treats patients with diabetes and whose stock has been punished by uncertainty over the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. DaVita stock has fallen more than 11% since last year’s Berkshire Hathaway meeting.
Some of Buffett’s telecom holdings were the next biggest losers, with Liberty Global (LBTYA) down 9% and Verizon (VZ) stock down more than 8%. The cable companies are dealing with fierce competition as well as consolidation that has added volatility to the industry. But Buffett may have escaped the worst of the damage, as he sold nearly all of his Verizon stock over the past year, and owned just a tiny $43,000 stake as of Berkshire Hathaway’s latest holdings disclosure.
The other Berkshire stocks that dropped since last year’s meeting include General Electric (GE), down 5%; Twenty-First Century Fox (FOX), down nearly 4%; Phillips 66 (PSX), down 3%; and Coca-Cola (KO), down a little more than 2%.
Buffett also announced this week that he sold a third of his shares in his longtime holding IBM (IBM). While IBM stock has risen over the past 12 month, up 6%, Buffett may have gotten fed up with its more recent performance, as the shares are down almost 7% so far in 2017.
Stocks that Buffett has dumped completely since Berkshire Hathaway’s last annual meeting include Deere (DE), Kinder Morgan (KMI), Lee Enterprises (LEE), Now Inc. (DNOW-WI) and Suncor (SU). (He no longer owns Media General, either, because that company was acquired by Nexstar earlier this year.)
Ironically, despite the many Buffett holdings that have beat the market by a long shot over the past year, Berkshire Hathaway stock itself has underperformed. (In addition to its stock holdings, Berkshire owns a large, diverse portfolio of companies outright.) Berkshire’s shares have risen just more than 14%, lagging behind the S&P 500. Buffett and his shareholders likely won’t worry too much about this short-term blip: Berkshire Hathaway stock returned roughly twice as much as the S&P 500 in calendar year 2016.