Berkshire buys 5 percent of IBM, takes other stakes

Posted Nov. 14, 2011, at 9:35 p.m.

OMAHA, Neb. — Warren Buffett said Monday that his company has spent $10.7 billion to buy more than 5 percent of IBM’s stock this year, a surprising move by the billionaire investor who has long shied away from investing in high technology companies.

Berkshire Hathaway also revealed several other new investments made during the turmoil of the third quarter. Besides the new IBM investment, Berkshire added much smaller stakes in Intel Corp., DirecTV, General Dynamics Corp. and CVS Caremark Corp.

Most of the details emerged from the quarterly update Berkshire filed with regulators on its $59 billion U.S. stock portfolio. Buffett disclosed some details in interviews earlier in the day.

Monday’s filing doesn’t offer a full picture of Berkshire’s holdings, however, because the Securities and Exchange Commission allowed the Omaha-based company to keep some of its investments confidential.

Buffett has long refused to invest in high-tech companies because he has said it’s too difficult to predict which technology businesses will prosper in the long run.

But he said he recently realized his view of IBM was wrong based on what he read in the company’s annual reports and what he learned by talking to information-technology departments at Berkshire subsidiaries. He said he should have realized years sooner that hardware is no longer the heart of IBM’s business.

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