Warren Buffett’s Concentrated Stock Bets Are Paying Off Amid Market Turmoil

The upcoming Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting brings Warren Buffett's giant stock portfolio in focus.

Warren Buffett with a popsicle in one hand.
Warren Buffett at Berkshire Hathaway’s shareholder meeting in 2019. JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images

Warren Buffett’s investment conglomerate, Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A), is scheduled to host its annual shareholder meeting tomorrow (May 6) in Omaha, Neb., Buffett’s hometown.

The three-day event, dubbed the “Woodstock for Capitalists,” is the largest annual business gathering in the U.S. Before the pandemic, the shareholder meeting attracted more than 40,000 money managers, industry professionals and mom-and-pop investors from around the world every spring to hear Buffett and Charlie Munger, his longtime business partner, discuss markets and economy.

At this year’s meeting, the second in-person event since 2019, Buffett and Munger are expected to receive shareholder questions on everything from the macroeconomy to Berkshire’s succession plan to business at its dozens of portfolio companies.

In the past year, Buffett has made a few notable adjustments to Berkshire’s massive investment portfolio. He bought out five Japanese trading houses, briefly owned a stake in Taiwanese chipmaker TSMC, reduced holding in Chinese auto giant BYD, and increased his bet in Apple (AAPL)—Berkshire’s top holding.

At the end of 2022, Berkshire held nearly $950 billion in assets through ownership in more than 60 companies across insurance, energy, manufacturing and retail. About $300 billion of Berkshire’s assets were invested in publicly traded companies.

Where is Warren Buffett placing his largest bets?

The 92-year-old investor doesn’t believe in diversification when it comes to picking stocks. Berkshire’s stock portfolio, now worth about $350 billion, is comprised of 53 positions. More than 80 percent of the money is concentrated in just a handful of companies, most notably Apple, Bank of America (BAC), Chevron, Coca-Cola and American Express (AXP).

How is Buffett's portfolio performing during market turmoil?

The performance of Berkshire-owned stocks has been mixed this year, with Apple shares gaining nearly 40 percent while Bank of America tanking 18 percent since January. But, overall, Buffett's stock holdings are worth nearly $50 billion more since the beginning of the year.

Berkshire's Class A stock, which reflects the overall financial condition of the firm, is up more than 4 percent in 2023, far outperforming the S&P 500 index's 18 percent loss.

Berkshire Class A shares are the company's original stock offering known for its astronomical price per share. Buffett famously resists splitting the share to discourage short-term trading by speculative investors. Class A shares are currently traded at $488,606.

Berkshire also has a Class B stock that's more modestly priced and accessible to retail investors.

Over the long run, Berkshire has consistently beat the market. Since 1964, the first year of available data, Berkshire stock has gone up 3,787,464 percent, more than 150 times the return of S&P 500 over the same period, according to Berkshire's 2022 annual report. On a compounded basis, Berkshire has gained 19.8 percent annually since 1964, double the S&P 500's 9.9 percent.

Warren Buffett’s Concentrated Stock Bets Are Paying Off Amid Market Turmoil