Buffett's Berkshire boosts American, Southwest airline bets; sheds Fox


Buffett decimated his IBM holdings, trimming down his position for Berkshire Hathaway's class B stock from more than 178,000 shares to just 27,000 shares in January, February, and March of this year.

Buffett's company Berkshire Hathaway (brk.a) gave up on Twenty-First Century Fox stock earlier this year, it disclosed Monday-just as the owner of Fox News was embroiled in a widening sexual harassment scandal that culminated last month in the ouster of political commentator Bill O'Reilly.

Buffett was a net buyer of stocks as 2017 began, adding more than $7 billion worth of securities in the first quarter. For Berkshire, larger investments are usually Buffett's and smaller ones belong to either Todd Combs or Ted Weschler, Berkshire's two other investment managers.

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Berkshire officials don't generally comment on the quarterly filings or the reasons for their portfolio moves. It was worth more than $1.5 billion as of Monday's close of trading.

Berkshire bought stakes in all four airlines in 2016, a surprise vote of confidence from Mr. Buffett, who had long criticized the airline industry as a money-loser for investors. The company last reported that it held 8.9 million shares worth about $250 million.

Berkshire sold off almost 9 million shares in Twenty-First Century Fox, the parent company of the 20th Century Fox movie studio and Fox News Channel, which has been hit by allegations of discrimination and harassment. Its United Continental Holdings Inc. stake was unchanged, and its Delta Air Lines Inc. stake was reduced to 55 million from 60 million shares. A holding in Southwest increased 10 percent to 47.7 million shares, and a stake in American grew 8.2 percent to 49.3 million shares. At the end of the first quarter, the holding was valued at more than $19 billion, making it one of Berkshire's biggest stock investments. Mr. Buffett said this month that he was wrong in his evaluation of the company.