PetroChina (NYSE: PTR)
First Shares Purchased: 2002
Date Sold: 2008
Amount Made: $3.6 Billion (Realized)
Percentage Gain: 880 percent (Realized)
In 2002 and 2003 Berkshire bought 1.3 percent of PetroChina for $408 million, during a time which the company was worth roughly $37 billion. In October 2008, the price of oil was rising rapidly, and Berkshire Hathaway’s report claims that he and Vice-Chairman Charlie Munger believed the company had reached its prime, and sold their shares on a realized cost basis of roughly $4 billion. This equates to a gain of $3.6 billion, and an increase of 880 percent. However, Shares of PetroChina continued to rise with the price of crude and Buffett admitted that he may have sold prematurely. Some believe the investor chose to bail on the stock because the Chinese company had received a great deal of bad press because of its connection with Sudanese oil operations, the profits of which were going at the time to a genocidal Sudanese military. Buffett claims his only reason for the sale was price, and not political pressure. Ironically, Team Buffett decided to invest heavily in ConocoPhillips and it took large hits after the energy bubble popped. The Conoco shares were effectively cut in half from peak to trough before the recovery. Berkshire Hathaway still held 29.1 million shares at our most recent reporting date.
(AP Photo/Kin Cheung)