(By James Brumley
) If you're a fan of investment genius Warren Buffett or a shareholder of Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-B)
, then by now you've certainly heard his investment management
company started accumulating stakes in General Motors (NYSE: GM)
and Viacom (Nasdaq: VIAB)
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And it makes sense.
One is an old-school auto manufacturer getting back on its feet, while the other owns some of TV viewers' favorite cable channels. Both businesses are easy to understand and both are based on relatively reliable business models. These qualities are right up Buffett's alley, even though one or both of the two new illustrious members of his investment team -- Todd Combs or Ted Weschler -- likely made the picks.
Yet, for investors looking to glean a stock pick, GM and Viacom may not be the best Berkshire coat-tails to ride -- they're just the highest-profile names being added to the $75 billion equity portfolio. Your best Buffett-based picks may actually be a trio of companies whose stakes he increased during the first quarter of the year.
Here's a closer look at them...
1. Bank of New York Mellon (NYSE: BK)
Even after beefing up his position in the regional bank by a whopping 213% during the first quarter, Bank of New York Mellon is still only a $118 million position, or 0.2% of Berkshire Hathaway's portfolio. It's also a bit of an oddity for Buffett, who tends to bet big when he bothers betting at all. And make no mistake -- if Buffett wanted more of the $24.5 billion bank, then he could certainly afford it.
What gives? Had he not added so much to the Bank of New York Mellon position, it would have been dismissed as another one of about 30 trades that barely even register as one of his holdings. Despite so many other matters on his plate at the time -- namely a now-failed co-bid to buy Avon (NYSE: AVP), prostate cancer and getting two new managers up to speed -- Buffett made a point of adding to this stake more than any other, in percentage terms.