Warren Buffett stocks aren’t known for being losers. But when they are, including some in the S&P 500, the pain can be severe.
A dozen U.S.-traded Warren Buffett stocks in Berkshire Hathaway‘s (BRKB) portfolio, mostly financials like Wells Fargo (WFC) and Bank Of America (<strong>BAC</strong>), are down 12% or more from the start of 2020, says an Investor’s Business Daily analysis of data from S&P Global Market Intelligence and MarketSmith looking at currently reported holdings.
That’s a rough loss to take given the massive size of some of Berkshire’s positions. Adding to the injury is the fact the S&P 500 is up more than 15% in roughly that same period. Investors gained nearly 20%, or $6.9 trillion, in 2020, says Wilshire Associates.
All told, these big losses shaved off $10.8 billion in value from Berkshire Hathaway’s portfolio in 2020 and 2021 so far, based on year-end portfolio balances. Nearly half of the stocks in Buffett’s U.S.-listed portfolio are lower now than they were when 2020 began.
Buffett Burned By Big Banks
If there’s a theme to Buffett’s big losers, it’s that his love affair with financials is hurting his portfolio.
Berkshire’s biggest losses on both a dollar-value and percentage decline are in financials. Wells Fargo is down 43.3% from the start of 2020. That’s a huge misfire if you consider that the Financial Select Sector SPDR (XLF) is only off 5.1% in that time.
Wells Fargo, still reeling from financial scandals years ago, isn’t finding revenue growth. And unfortunately for Buffett, Berkshire still owned 127 million shares, or 3%, as of 2020 based on the most current reporting information. And that means Berkshire is down nearly $3 billion on just this one stock.
But even that loss pales next to the $5 billion hit to Berkshire’s massive position in Bank of America (BAC). Shares of the bank are down just 14% since the start of 2020. But when you own a billion shares, or 11% of the company, that amounts to a financial blow.
Not All Buffett’s Bummers Were Financials
It’s easy to just blame some bum bank stocks. But Buffett took lumps on some non-financials too.
Shares of Liberty Latin America (LILI), a provider of telecom services in Latin America, are down more than 43% since 2020 kicked off.
Some other big percentage losses for Buffett came from health care Biogen (BGEN), communications services Sirius XM (SIRI) and real estate play Store Capital (STOR). Biogen is down 17% and Sirius and Store are off 12.7% in 2020 and this year so far.
Luckily for Buffett, his No. 1 holding, Apple (AAPL), is up roughly 80% since 2020. That puts $54 billion into the portfolio, more than enough to paper over any short-term mistakes.
Buffett Stocks Gone Wrong
Berkshire positions that dropped the most in 2020 and 2021 so far*
|Wells Fargo & Company||(WFC)||Financials||-43.3%|
|Liberty Latin America||(LILAK)||Communication Services||-42.9%|
|Liberty Latin America||(LILA)||Communication Services||-42.6%|
|Bank of New York Mellon||(BK)||Financials||-16.2%|
|Bank of America||(BAC)||Financials||-14.1%|
|Sirius XM Holdings||(SIRI)||Communication Services||-12.7%|
|STORE Capital||(STOR)||Real Estate||-12.7%|
|Liberty SiriusXM||(LSXMA)||Communication Services||-12.5%|