Berkshire Buys VeriSign, ADM Stakes as Deputies Add Stocks

Thursday, 14 Feb 2013 05:24 PM

 

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Berkshire Hathaway Inc. added stakes in VeriSign Inc. and Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. as Chairman Warren Buffett’s deputies took on more responsibilities.

Berkshire held 3.69 million shares of the Internet-address database manager VeriSign as of Dec. 31, Buffett’s Omaha, Nebraska-based company said Thursday in a regulatory filing disclosing U.S. stockholdings at the end of 2012. The stake in Decatur, Illinois-based ADM was for 5.96 million shares.

Buffett, 82, has used premium revenue from insurance units and earnings from operating businesses to buy stocks and take over companies, building Berkshire’s market value to more than $240 billion. He has been preparing the firm for his eventual departure, in part by hiring former hedge fund managers Todd Combs and Ted Weschler to oversee some investments.

“Most of the new holdings in the portfolio are coming from Todd and Ted,” said David Kass, a professor at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, who has taken students to visit Buffett in Omaha.

ADM climbed 59 cents to $31.99 at 4:39 p.m. in New York in extended trading. Reston, Virginia-based VeriSign jumped 83 cents to $46.50.

Mutual funds and individuals watch Berkshire’s filings for clues about the company’s strategy. Last year, the billionaire affirmed his preference for buying stocks and taking over companies rather than investing in debt. Low interest rates and inflation make bonds among the “most dangerous” assets, he wrote in a letter to Berkshire shareholders in February 2012.

Wells Fargo

Buffett has accumulated the largest holdings in companies including Wells Fargo & Co. and American Express Co. Gains in equities helped Berkshire’s Class A shares climb 17 percent last year, beating the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index’s 13 percent advance.

Buffett has said he’s responsible for larger investments while the deputies make smaller bets, such as a stake in General Motors Co. disclosed last year. He told Bloomberg Television’s Betty Liu in July that he’s been giving Weschler and Combs more money to invest.

“They’ve been terrific additions to Berkshire,” he said in the July 13 interview.

© Copyright 2014 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

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