(Adds new investments throughout, Warren Buffett and Charlie
Munger comments from Berkshire annual meeting, byline)
May 16 (Reuters) - Berkshire Hathaway Inc on Monday
said it added new investments in Citigroup Inc and several
other companies in the first quarter, as Warren Buffett's
conglomerate took advantage of volatile stock markets to invest
$51.1 billion that had largely been sitting in cash.
In a regulatory filing describing its U.S.-listed equity
investments as of March 31, Berkshire reported new stakes in
Ally Financial Inc, chemicals and specialty materials
company Celanese Corp, insurance holding company Markel
Corp, drug distributor McKesson Corp and
Paramount Global, formerly known as ViacomCBS.
Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire said it sold nearly all of
an $8.3 billion stake in Verizon Communications Inc that
it had amassed in late 2020.
Berkshire also finally exited Wells Fargo & Co, a
33-year-old investment that Buffett soured on after finding it
too slow to address revelations that employees had mistreated
customers, including by opening unwanted accounts.
Buffett's company ended March with $106.3 billion of cash
and equivalents, down from a near-record $146.7 billion three
months earlier, largely reflecting the new investments.
These included previously disclosed stakes in Chevron Corp
and Occidental Petroleum Corp, computer and
printer maker HP Inc and video game maker Activision
Blizzard Inc, the latter an arbitrage bet.
Stock sales totaled $9.7 billion, and also included
drugmakers AbbVie Inc and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co
Citigroup, where Berkshire invested nearly $3 billion, has
embarked on a multiyear plan to boost performance and a share
price that in recent years has lagged larger rivals JPMorgan
Chase & Co and Bank of America Corp, the latter
a major Berkshire investment.
Some investors have described Markel as a small-scale
version of Berkshire, and Buffett in March committed $11.6
billion to buy another insurance holding company fitting that
description, Alleghany Corp.
Berkshire also owns several companies specializing in
Monday's filing does not say which investments were made by
Buffett and his portfolio managers Todd Combs and Ted Weschler.
Most large Berkshire investments are Buffett's. Stock prices
often rise after Berkshire reveals new stakes because investors
view the investments as a stamp of approval.
At Berkshire's annual meeting on April 30, Buffett said
investors were too focused on flashy stocks, causing markets at
times to resemble a casino, allowing him to focus on stocks that
Berkshire understands and which add value.
Analysts have also viewed Chevron and Occidental as a way
for Berkshire to benefit from rising oil prices following
Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
"I wish the rest of the world worked as well as our big oil
companies," Berkshire Vice Chairman Charlie Munger said at the
More than three-fourths of Berkshire's $390.5 billion equity
portfolio on March 31 was in American Express Co, Apple
Inc, Bank of America, Chevron, Coca-Cola Co and
Kraft Heinz Co. Berkshire owned 26.6% of Kraft Heinz.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Chris
Reese, Bernard Orr)