A lot has been said about Warren Buffett and the energy sector in recent weeks, as the Oracle of Omaha seems to have set his sights on the renewable arena. And Carl Icahn, while focusing his attention elsewhere as of late (ahem, Family Dollar and Gannett), has long been a major mover and shaker in energy (as in his 72-million-share stake in CVR Energy).
But can Icahn and Buffett be categorized as energy bulls? Not exactly, according to iBillionaire’s research into the investment holdings of these two billionaires.
Buffett: A Story of Sell-Offs and Spin-Offs
Warren Buffett’s interest in the energy sector seems to have surged and waned in recent quarters. The billionaire has concentrated his energy investments in five main companies – National Oilwell Varco (NOV), Phillips 66 (PSX), ConocoPhillips (COP), Suncor Energy (SU) and Exxon Mobil (XOM) – as well as new National Oilwell spin-off NOW Inc. (DNOW).
During the second quarter of this year, Buffett scaled back his positions in three of those entities – National Oilwell Varco, Phillips 66 and ConocoPhillips. He upped the ante in Suncor, left his Exxon allocation untouched and initiated a position in NOW.
Buffett initially invested in Phillips 66 when it split from ConocoPhillips in 2012. In Q1, he cut his position by over 17 million PSX shares, and in Q2, he sold off an additional 3.24 million. He unloaded 9.72 million COP assets last quarter, continuing to shave down a position reported as large as 42.3 million shares in 2009.
The billionaire also scaled back his allocation in National Oilwell Varco, a position he’s held since Q2 2012. He has taken a play out of his PSX-COP playbook with this one, however, investing in the company’s distribution spin-off NOW with the purchase of 229,000 shares.
Buffett’s energy play seems to be one of diversification that also entails investing in the spinoffs of companies he’s already backed. And though his bets seem to be doing quite well – all but Exxon are in the green for the year – when it comes to the overall allocation of his portfolio, energy is losing ground.