Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway buys stake in Verizon, adds to Wal-Mart-Reuters

(Reuters) – Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc bought a new stake of 11 million shares in Verizon Communications Inc in the first quarter and added to its holding in Wal-Mart Stores Inc, according to a regulatory filing on Thursday.

Shares of Verizon rose 1.6 percent to $48.75 in after-hours trading following the disclosure, in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing, detailing Berkshire’s U.S. common stock investments as of March 31.

Shares of companies often rise after Berkshire reveals new stakes because some investors consider it a vote of confidence by Buffett and try to copy him.

Verizon “has shown that with several changes in leadership, the company performs and is a premium provider, if not the premium provider in the market,” said analyst Roger Entner of Recon Analytics in Boston.

Buffett “likes people who can execute,” Entner added.

Investor Daniel Loeb’s Third Point LLC also opened a new stake in Verizon, buying 3.5 million shares.

Verizon declined to comment.

Berkshire’s regulatory filing did not say whether the Verizon investment was made by Buffett himself, or by one or both of his portfolio managers, Todd Combs and Ted Weschler.

U.S. regulators require large investors to disclose their stock holdings every quarter, and the disclosures can offer a window into their investment strategies.

Berkshire, a conglomerate with over 80 businesses ranging from ice cream to insurance, added to stakes in other companies, as well, including DaVita HealthCare Partners Inc (DVA.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and IBM Corp (IBM.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), among others.

Berkshire Hathaway reduced its stake in several companies, among them DirecTV (DTV.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and General Motors Co (GM.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz).

It also reported a 17.3 percent boost in its stake in Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), the world’s largest retailer, to 58.1 million shares, for a total of $4.44 billion.

Though Berkshire owns several retail businesses such as Fruit of the Loom and the Nebraska Furniture Mart, Buffett is not known for specializing in that sector.

Asked at Berkshire’s annual meeting on May 3 about when he goes out of his “circle of confidence” when investing, Buffett said “I’ve gone out of it more often in retail.”

The Omaha, Nebraska-based company’s book value per share, Buffett’s preferred measure of growth, grew 2.6 percent from January to March this year.

The conglomerate ended the first quarter with $118.5 billion in stock, more than half of which was in four companies: American Express Company (AXP.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), Wells Fargo (WFC.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), IBM and the Coca-Cola Company (KO.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz).

While Buffett has said he makes Berkshire’s largest investments, some investments are made by Combs and Weschler, who oversee several billion dollars each.

In afternoon trading, Berkshire’s Class A shares slipped 1.07 percent to $189,371 and its Class B shares dipped 0.92 percent to $126.36.

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