Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway has been buying back stock.
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repurchased an estimated $1.9 billion of stock during the first two months of 2023.
This is a Barron’s estimate based on the share count shown in the Berkshire Hathaway (Ticker BRK/A, BRK/B) proxy statement released late Friday.
The proxy shows the share count of roughly 1.456 million Class A shares outstanding (with Class B stock converted to an equivalent amount of A shares) as of March 8. We compared that figure to the share count on Dec. 31, 2022. Berkshire is on pace to repurchase nearly $3 billion of stock in the current quarter, in line with the $2.6 billion in the fourth quarter.
Berkshire slowed its repurchase activity in 2022 relative to 2021, repurchasing $7.9 billion last year, against $27.1 billion in 2021 and $24.7 billion in 2020.
Investors watch the repurchase activity as an indication of CEO Warren Buffett’s view on the valuation of the stock. The slowdown in repurchase activity in recent quarters suggests that he thinks the stock is appealing but not super cheap. Berkshire was actively investing in U.S. stocks, notably
in 2022. The company also paid almost $12 billion for insurer Alleghany late last year and upped its stake in truck-stop operator Pilot Co. earlier in 2023.
Berkshire’s Class A shares, which fell 2.8% to $442,765 on Friday, are off 5% so far in 2023. They trade for less than 1.4 times book value, which is line with the five-year average.