Buffett Cut J&J Stake, Other Holdings in Fourth Quarter

Berkshire Hathaway has released the list of its holdings for the fourth quarter of 2008 — and it looks like Warren Buffett has made some substantial changes to his company’s portfolio.

While Buffett has recently said he is “buying American” with his personal portfolio, the biggest news from Berkshire’s filing doesn’t involve new purchases, notes Alex Crippen of CNBC’s Warren Buffett Watch, “Instead of asking what Buffett has been buying,” Crippen says, “we should have been wondering what Buffett has been selling.”

The biggest sell: Berkshire has cut its big stake in Johnson & Johnson from 61.8 million shares (at the end of the third quarter) to 28.6 million shares at the end of the 2008 year.

Crippen notes that Berkshire also cut its stakes in ConocoPhillips (to 79.9 million shares from 84 million); CarMax (to 17.6 million shares from 18.4 million); Procter & Gamble (to 96.3 million shares from 105.8 million); and US Bancorp (to 67.6 million shares from 73 million).

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Berkshire added one new holding, water treatment firm Nalco Holding Company, of which it bought 8.7 million shares. And the firm added to its stakes in Eaton (upping its 2.9 million shares to 3.2 million) and Ingersoll-Rand (increasing its stake from 5.6 million shares to 7.8 million).

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