Berkshire Hits 13-Month High as BofA, Wells Fargo Gain
Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., the largest investor in Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) and holder of preferred shares in Bank of America Corp. (BAC), climbed to a 13-month high (BRK/A) as the lenders rallied.
Berkshire Class A shares rose about 1 percent to $124,440 at 4 p.m. in New York, the highest value since April 2011. San Francisco-based Wells Fargo, the largest U.S. home lender, gained 1.5 percent while Bank of America advanced 4.5 percent.
Buffett, 81, said last month that U.S. banks have “liquidity coming out of their ears” and are in better shape than their rivals in Europe, which is struggling with a debt crisis. His Omaha, Nebraska-based firm has been adding to holdings of Wells Fargo and in 2011 it invested $5 billion in Bank of America in exchange for preferred shares and warrants.
Berkshire gets a “bump when you see risk rally” for financial stocks, Tom Lewandowski, an analyst at Edward Jones & Co. in St. Louis, said in a phone interview. For investors “who can deal with the succession risk that comes along with Warren Buffett in owning Berkshire shares, I think it’s still a good long-term investment opportunity,” he said.
Buffett, who built Berkshire from a failing textile maker into a company valued at more than $200 billion that sells products from insurance to ice cream, is preparing for his eventual departure. He has said that his son Howard, a Berkshire director, would guard the culture as non-executive chairman, while the board has picked his successor as CEO along with two backups. The candidates haven’t been publicly identified.
Oversight of the investment portfolio will fall to Ted Weschler and Todd Combs, former hedge-fund managers whom Buffett hired in the past two years. Berkshire hit a “home run” with both and may add another money manager to help, Buffett said at the company’s annual meeting on May 5.
Berkshire’s stock portfolio, which also includes stakes in International Business Machines Corp. and Coca-Cola Co., was valued at $89.1 billion at the end of March. Buffett still oversees the largest investments, while Weschler and Combs manage $2.75 billion each, Buffett said at the meeting.
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