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Buffett's Berkshire boosts Ally, Activision holdings; sheds Verizon

Aug 15 (Reuters) - Berkshire Hathaway Inc BRKa.N, run by billionaire Warren Buffett, has tripled its stake in online banking company Ally Financial Inc ALLY.N and increased its bet that "Call of Duty" video game maker Activision Blizzard Inc ATVI.O will be acquired by Microsoft Corp MSFT.O. In a Monday regulatory filing describing its U.S.-listed equity investments as of June 30, Berkshire also said it exited what was once an $8.3 billion investment in Verizon Communications Inc VZ.N and no longer owns Royalty Pharma Plc RPRX.O, which buys drug royalties. The filing does not specify whether Buffett or his portfolio managers Todd Combs and Ted Weschler made specific purchases and sales, but investors often try to mimic what Berkshire does. Larger investments are normally Buffett's. Berkshire slowed its stock buying spree in the second quarter as U.S. stock markets fell, purchasing $6.2 billion of stocks and selling $2.3 billion. It had bought $51.1 billion and sold $9.7 billion in the first quarter. Nevertheless, Buffett's conglomerate, which also owns dozens of businesses such as the BNSF railroad and Geico auto insurer, ended June with a $327.7 billion equity portfolio, led by $125.1 billion in Apple Inc AAPL.O. It also invested more than $33 billion in two oil companies, Chevron Corp CVX.N and Occidental Petroleum Corp OXY.N, as oil prices surged following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Berkshire has since purchased another $1.7 billion of Occidental stock, boosting its stake to 20.2%. It also owns $10 billion of Occidental preferred stock. In the second quarter, Berkshire's Ally stake grew to 30 million shares from about 9 million, while its Activision stake grew to 68.4 million shares, worth $5.3 billion, from 64.3 million. The Activision investment is a form of arbitrage, where Buffett appears to be betting that investors are pessimistic that regulators will approve Microsoft's proposed $68.7 billion takeover of the company. According to Monday's filing, Berkshire also increased its holdings during the second quarter in Apple, Celanese Corp CE.N, Chevron, Markel Corp MKL.N, McKesson Corp MCK.N, Occidental and Paramount Global PARA.O. It reduced its holdings in General Motors Co GM.N, Kroger Co KR.N, Store Capital Corp STOR.N and US Bancorp USB.N, the filing shows. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York, Editing by Franklin Paul and Josie Kao) ((jon.stempel@thomsonreuters.com; +1 646 223 6317; Reuters Messaging: jon.stempel.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) 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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