Munger’s Daily Journal Lifts Curtain of Secrecy on Bets

Investors now know what stocks Charles Munger picked for the portfolio of Daily Journal Corp., the publisher that counts him as chairman.

Munger’s company had 1.59 million shares of San Francisco-based Wells Fargo & Co. as of Dec. 31, Daily Journal said in a regulatory filing today. That holding is valued at more than $72 million, based on yesterday’s closing price of $45.52. A stake in Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bank of America Corp. is valued at about $38.5 million.

Munger, best known as the vice chairman at Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., helped more than quadruple the Daily Journal’s stock price since 2008 by reallocating investments into equities. The publisher had previously withheld the names of companies in its securities portfolio. Daily Journal said last year that jumping into stocks was the safe move during the financial crisis.

“The board recognized that this decision would be contrary to the conventional (but questionable) notion that the least risky way to preserve corporate capital for the long-term benefit of stockholders is to invest it in government bonds at interest rates approximating zero,” an attorney for Los Angeles-based Daily Journal wrote in a letter to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last year.

Posco, U.S. Bancorp

The Daily Journal also had investments in U.S. Bancorp and Posco, South Korea’s biggest steelmaker. Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire has invested in the three banks in which Daily Journal disclosed stakes and also Posco.

Munger, 90, and Daily Journal Vice Chairman J.P. Guerin select the securities, which “given their experience and knowledge of investing, required very little time,” the company said in the letter to the SEC.

Daily Journal’s publications include California Lawyer magazine and newspapers which cover legal affairs, business and real estate.

In prior filings, the Daily Journal had said shares of Fortune 200 companies were among its holdings. Investors had speculated Wells Fargo was one of the picks, based on the appreciation of the portfolio and Berkshire’s fondness for the bank.

Daily Journal Chief Executive Officer Gerald Salzman declined to comment last year for a story on the investments.

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