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Berkshire Discloses Stake in Comcast

August 18, 2004|From Bloomberg News

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. bought 5 million shares of Comcast Corp. two days after the world's biggest cable-television operator dropped a $54.1-billion bid for Walt Disney Co., a government filing showed.

Berkshire invested $147.9 million in Philadelphia-based Comcast after its stock dropped 12% over 2 1/2 months on concern that the unsolicited offer was an expensive way to increase revenue. Since then, the stock has fallen 9% as Comcast and other cable companies have lost customers to satellite-TV competitors DirecTV Group Inc. and EchoStar Communications Corp.

"He didn't catch the bottom," said analyst Matthew Harrigan at Greenwood Villa, Colo.-based Janco Partners.

The purchase on April 30 was disclosed in a National Assn. of Insurance Commissioners filing by Berkshire's Geico Corp. auto insurer. The information wasn't included in Berkshire's holdings report Monday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which noted that confidential information had been omitted.

Comcast shares rose 56 cents Tuesday to $27.42 on Nasdaq.

Louis Simpson, who's in charge of investment decisions at Geico, stepped down from Comcast's board in January.

Geico's portfolio also includes 22 million shares of Shaw Communications Inc., Canada's second-biggest cable TV operator, making Berkshire the second-biggest holder of Shaw shares.

Marc Hamburg, chief financial officer of Omaha-based Berkshire Hathaway, declined to comment.

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