Berkshire Hathaway purchased more than $500 million of Occidental Petroleum stock recently and now holds a 16.3% stake in the big energy company, according to a regulatory filing late Wednesday.
Berkshire Hathaway (ticker: BRK/A, BRK/B) CEO Warren Buffett began buying Occidental Petroleum (OXY) stock earlier this year and Berkshire now owns 152.7 million shares after purchasing a total of 9.5 million shares this past Friday and Wednesday. The stake is now worth $8.5 billion.
Occidental shares were down 3.6% Wednesday to $55.77 as oil prices continued to retreat, falling 1.7% to $104 a barrel based on West Texas intermediate crude. Buffett appears to be taking advantage of the recent weakness in oil prices and energy stocks to add to Berkshire's holding .
As a holder of more than 10% of Occidental, Berkshire must disclose trades in the stock within two business days via a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Berkshire last purchases of Occidental stock occurred in May.
The fresh purchases may fuel speculation that Berkshire will add further to its stake and reach 20%, or potentially bid for the entire company. At 20%, Berkshire likely would get a different accounting treatment for Occidental that would let it reflect a proportional share of Occidental's earnings in its own results.
Along with other energy companies, Occidental trades cheaply, fetching just five times projected 2022 earnings as it capitalizes on strong oil and gas prices. Berkshire also holds a large stake in Chevron (CVX).