After several years of struggling to find acquisition targets, Berkshire Hathaway has used its growing pile of cash to become one of the world’s largest owners of U.S. Treasury bills. This according to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal.
As of last September 30, the article points out, Berkshire held $109 billion in cash and, according to CEO Warren Buffett, “nearly all of that was invested in short term bills,” a bigger holding than that of China or the U.K.
But Buffett has long resisted paying cash dividends, the article reports, partly due to their tax consequences for shareholders. While Berkshire earns revenue from holding and trading Treasuries, the article says the profit is “minimal relative to its overall business operations.”
Other companies with large cash holdings, says WSJ, “tend to invest in higher-yielding assets such as corporate bonds.” The article reports that, last month on CNBC, Buffett said Berkshire prefers to hold Treasury bills because they would “provide more liquidity during a market downturn”.