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Warren Buffett's 5 Recent Stock Moves: What You Need to Know

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Data source: YCharts.

A massive energy bet

Berkshire has been aggressively adding to its stake in Phillips 66 in recent months. As of the latest filings, Berkshire has spent nearly $1.1 billion on the oil refiner so far in 2016, bringing its stake to about $6 billion, or 14.2% of the company.

Phillips 66 is an excellent dividend-growth play, and is attractive right now for a few reasons. First, the company's refining and marketing operations actually benefit from low oil prices . At a time when most oil companies see their earnings (and stock prices) plummeting, the opposite is true of Phillips 66.

Data source: YCharts.

Plus, Phillips 66 has a history of shareholder-friendly management which I'm sure Buffett loves. The company has been rather generous in recent years in terms of returning capital to shareholders, both as dividends and share repurchases. The quarterly dividend has grown from $0.20 to $0.56 since 2012, and the outstanding share count has dropped by more than 15% during the same time period.

Data source: YCharts.

Adding to his favorite bank

Berkshire holds a massive position in Wells Fargo -- a 9.2% stake in the bank worth more than $22.4 billion as of this writing. And, Berkshire's Wells Fargo share count grew by about 2% during the fourth quarter, presumably to take advantage of depressed bank valuations.

It's easy to see why Buffett likes Wells Fargo. The bank has a history of smart risk management and efficient operations, which not only allowed it to survive the financial crisis, but to take advantage of weaker rivals and strengthen its position. Specifically, the bank's acquisition of Wachovia for a fraction of its pre-crisis value allowed it to catapult to the No. 1 U.S. bank by market cap.

Since then, Wells Fargo has maintained its status as the most efficient and profitable of the big four banks, as you can see in this chart.

Data source: YCharts.

As I've written in detail before, Wells Fargo is Warren Buffett's favorite bank stock, and for good reason.

Other notable buys and sells

Buffett's AT&T stake declined by about 20% during the fourth quarter. However, it's important for investors to understand that this stake was not purchased directly -- rather, these shares were the result of AT&T's merger with DIRECTV, which closed in July 2015. Berkshire's original DIRECTV investment has roughly doubled in value since it was initiated in 2011, so the reduction of the AT&T stake could simply be Berkshire collecting some of its profits in order to raise capital for other opportunities.

Berkshire's stake in Deere & Co. increased by about 5.7 million shares, and now represents a 7.2% stake in the company. Deere's share price has taken a hit recently, thanks to weak commodity prices, but the company's business isn't going anywhere. I recently wrote an article where I discussed Buffett's purchase of a small farm in the 1980s. Some of his reasons for doing so also apply to his investment in Deere -- to name a couple, the farming business will always be around, and the valuation is right. Plus, Deere's strong cash flow and rock-solid brand name give it a strong competitive advantage, especially during the tough times.

The bottom line on these Buffett moves

While Buffett seems to be betting on an energy rebound, these stocks all fit into Buffett's familiar criteria. They all have strong cash flow and their current valuations give Buffett a nice margin of safety, which he loves. These are all examples of Buffett's favorite way to invest -- by buying great companies at fair prices.

Finally, just because Buffett bought or sold a stock doesn't mean you should do the same. Rather, my point is that there are some good lessons you can learn from the stocks he picks, including the companies discussed here.

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The article Warren Buffett's 5 Recent Stock Moves: What You Need to Know originally appeared on Fool.com.

Matthew Frankel owns shares of AT&T and Berkshire Hathaway. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Berkshire Hathaway, Kinder Morgan, and Wells Fargo. The Motley Fool is short Deere & Company and has the following options: short June 2016 $12 puts on Kinder Morgan and short March 2016 $52 puts on Wells Fargo. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days . We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy .

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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