Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway bet big on the US stock market in the first quarter, buying $ 51.1bn of shares, as he plowed the sprawling conglomerate’s cash pile to work as financial markets slid.
It is a dramatic shift from an investor who had been a seller of stocks for the past two years, warning of high market valuations and that there was little that would generate substantive returns. But global financial markets have weakened in recent months, as Russia invaded Ukraine and fears of a Chinese economic slowdown have rattled investor confidence.
The company’s first quarter report showed it had sold $ 9.7bn of stock by comparison during the period.
The figures were disclosed on Saturday as tens of thousands of Berkshire shareholders descended on Omaha to hear from the billionaire investor at the company’s annual meeting, the first one held in person since 2019.
Berkshire reported net income of $ 5.5bn in the first three months of 2022, less than half the level generated a year earlier.
Buffett has burnished his dealmaking credentials in recent months after sitting on the sidelines for much of the pandemic era. In March he clinched a $ 11.6bn deal to take over insurer-to-toy manufacturer Alleghany and he has bought billions of dollars of stock in oil major Occidental and printer and computer manufacturer HP.
Shares of the company have outpaced the US stock market this year, rising 7.5 per cent compared to a 13 per cent decline by the benchmark S&P 500.