Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway is making a new bet on the Atlanta Braves


Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A, BRK-B) cut its exposure to a number of well-known American companies in the third quarter, exiting stakes in General Motors Co. (GM), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), and Procter & Gamble Company (PG).

But Berkshire also made a $8 million bet on another American institution: major-league baseball.

The Omaha, Neb.-based conglomerate took a new position in Atlanta Braves Holdings (BATRA), the holding company for the team that finished the recent baseball season with the league’s best record. The Atlanta Braves last won the World Series in 2021.

The Braves split from its old parent company Liberty Media last July, and became its own publicly-traded company. Berkshire is a longtime investor in Liberty, controlled by billionaire John Malone.

Berkshire also picked up some new shares in the stock of Liberty (LSXMA) during the third quarter as well as broadcasting firm Sirius XM Holdings (SIRI). Liberty has proposed a merger with Sirius XM.

Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, pitches a baseball at an Omaha Royals game in Rosenblatt Stadium. Buffett is a part owner of the minor league team. (Photo by mark peterson/Corbis via Getty Images)

Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, used to own part of the minor-league team in Omaha, Neb. Here he is pictured throwing out a pitch at one of the team’s games. (Photo by mark peterson/Corbis via Getty Images) (mark peterson via Getty Images)

The stock of Atlanta Braves Holdings rose more than 4% Tuesday and over 3% during Wednesday’s premarket trading. Through the third quarter the stock fell 4.5%.

Since the beginning of January, it has risen more than 18%, slightly more than the S&P 500 (^GSPC).

Buffett has a long-time affinity for baseball, frequently citing his admiration for the hitting of Boston Red Sox great Ted Williams, the last player to hit over .400 in a season (1941). At one time he owned a minority stake in the minor-league team that plays in Omaha.

“You don’t kick yourself when you make a mistake,” he told Yahoo Finance in 2020, talking about the parallels between investing and hitting a baseball successfully. “I mean, it is part of what you do. And you know, I was there when Ted Williams batted .406.”

UNSPECIFIED - UNDATED: Ted Williams with Red Sox GM Bucky Harris after signing his contract for his 19th season with the Red Sox. Fenway Park Boston, Mass.(Sports Studio Photos/Getty Images)

Warren Buffet is a fan of Ted Williams, right, the last man to hit over .400 in a season. (Sports Studio Photos/Getty Images) (Sports Studio Photos via Getty Images)

In a 2015 HBO documentary called “Becoming Warren Buffett,” he cited wisdom he gleaned from Williams’ book “The Science of Hitting” about waiting for the right opportunity.

“If he waited for the pitch that was really in his sweet spot, he would bat .400,” Buffett said in the documentary. “If he had to swing at something on the lower corner, he would probably bat .235.”

Berkshire’s investment in Atlanta Braves Holdings gives it exposure to more than just the Atlanta Braves. That company also has interests in the Battery Atlanta, a mixed-use development in the city’s downtown.

As of the end of the third quarter, Berkshire’s investment was worth $8 million.

Oct 9, 2023; Cumberland, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Braves center fielder Michael Harris II (23) celebrates after the Atlanta Braves beat the Philadelphia Phillies in game two of the NLDS for the 2023 MLB playoffs at Truist Park. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Braves center fielder Michael Harris II (23) at Truist Park, the team’s home field. Photo: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports (USA Today Sports / reuters)

Berkshire didn’t make a lot of other new bets during the third quarter. It was a net seller of stocks during the period, while boosting its cash pile to a record $157.2 billion.

In addition to GM, J&J and P&G, it also exited the stocks of United Parcel Service (UPS), snack maker Mondelēz (MDLZ) and chemical maker Celanese Corporation (CE) and Activision Blizzard.

The firm also significantly reduced exposure to insurance companies Globe Life Inc. (GL) and Markel Corporation (MKL) and trimmed its stake in Amazon (AMZN) by 551,000 shares, or 5%.

The majority of stocks Berkshire sold rose Tuesday while Johnson & Johnson was flat and P&G fell slightly. Most were up at least slightly in pre-market trading early Wednesday. Celanese was down slightly.

Berkshire did not alter its largest positions in Apple (AAPL), Bank of America (BAC), American Express (AXP) or the the Coca-Cola Company (COKE), though it did increase its investment into longtime Berkshire favorite Kraft Heinz (KHC), adding nearly 323 million shares.

Berkshire did not change its exposure to its remaining bank stocks, either. Those include Ally Financial (ALLY), Capital One (COF), Citigroup (C) and Jefferies Financial Group (JEF). Between 2020 and 2022 it exited Bank of New York Mellon (BK) and Minneapolis lender US Bancorp (USB).

It also maintained its positions in US homebuilder stocks, including D.R. Horton (DHI), Lennar (LEN), and NVR (NVR).

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