Billionaire investor Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway reportedly has recently dumped a substantial amount of U.S. Bancorp.
Subsidiaries of Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B ) sold a total of 497,786 U.S. Bancorp shares (USB) on May 11 and 12 for $16.3 million, Barron’s reported.
According to a form Buffett filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Berkshire Hathaway now has overall ownership of 150.5 million shares of the bank.
Buffett indicated in the filing that Berkshire Hathaway’s stake in U.S. Bancorp is now under 10%. Buffett and his company are no longer obligated to report trades in the stock, though they must disclose their holdings as of the end of each quarter, Barron’s reported.
U.S. Bancorp stock has been hard-hit by coronavirus-induced volatility. Shares closed at $29.45 on Wednesday for a 50.3% year-to-date loss.
Berkshire Hathaway didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, Barron’s said.
This is the latest move by Berkshire which has caught the market by surprise.
Earlier this month, shares of the top four U.S. airlines dropped after Berkshire said it offloaded its entire stake in the carriers last month, adding to the sense of crisis around the industry, Reuters reported.
U.S. airlines posted considerable losses in the first quarter, and are on track for a dismal second-quarter, as travel restrictions and government-mandated lockdowns across the world have brought demand to a virtual standstill.
"The world has changed" for the aviation industry," Buffett said at Berkshire Hathaway's annual meeting earlier this month.
American Airlines has posted a $2.2 billion net loss, its first quarterly loss since emerging from bankruptcy in 2013, while United Airlines reported a loss of $1.7 billion for its first quarter.
Shares in Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines all plunged in the wake of that news.
Berkshire Hathaway had held an 11% stake in Delta, 10% in American, 10% in Southwest and 9% in United at the end of 2019, according to its annual report and company filings.
Despite his stock sales, the Oracle of Omaha remains bullish on America's economic future.
Buffett said earlier this month that the United States' capacity to withstand crises provides a silver lining as it combats the coronavirus, even as he acknowledged that the global pandemic could significantly damage the economy and his investments.
He said Americans have persevered and prospered through such crises as the Civil War in the 1860s, the influenza pandemic a century ago and the Great Depression. American "magic" prevailed before and would do again, he was quoted by Reuters as saying.
"Nothing can stop America when you get right down to it," Buffett said. "I will bet on America the rest of my life."
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