Buffett bails on WellPoint

May 18, 2010

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. sold off its entire stake of WellPoint Inc. stock in the first quarter, the firm reported Monday.

Buffett’s firm owned more than 1.3 million shares of WellPoint—an Indianapolis-based health insurer that has more than 432 million shares outstanding.

His firm also disposed of its stake of nearly 1.2 million shares in Minnesota-based UnitedHealth Group, another large health insurer.

In 2009, Buffett told CNBC that Berkshire’s holdings in WellPoint and UnitedHealth were actually investments chosen by the investment manager of GEICO, an insurance company owned by Nebraska-based Berkshire Hathaway.

Berkshire Hathaway first invested in WellPoint in the first quarter of 2007, spending nearly $80 million to acquire nearly 1 million shares. In the three years since, WellPoint shares have lost 36 percent of their value.

The company’s shares closed Monday at $53.52 apiece.


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