BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B - Get Report) made only two trades in the first quarter: initiating a small stake in credit-card company MasterCard (MA - Get Report) and trimming its big stake in oil company ConocoPhillips (COP - Get Report).
It's the second quarter in a row of little activity for the investment company run by the man dubbed the Oracle of Omaha for the trading prowess that helped him build an estimated net worth of $50 billion over half a century. In the first quarter, former hedge fund manager Todd Combs started working at Berkshire, managing part of the portfolio, as the 80-year-old billionaire selects a succession team.
Berkshire Hathaway's 26-stock investment portfolio was valued at $53.6 billion as of March 31, up $1 billion, or 2%, from the end of 2010, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission report that the hedge fund filed late Monday. Buffett isn't required to publish foreign holdings. The benchmark S&P 500 Index rose 5.4% in the first quarter.
Buffett's attention was diverted from trading to more pressing matters in the first quarter, including the resignation of a top executive, David Sokol, who many viewed as the most likely candidate to succeed him at Berkshire Hathaway.Sokol resigned March 30 after it was disclosed that he had traded in shares of oil-additives maker Lubrizol while considering it as a potential takeover candidate for Berkshire. The Lubrizol deal, valued at $9 billion, is expected to close in the second half of the year. >>View Warren Buffett's Portfolio Berkshire Hathaway also settled a dispute with the Securities and Exchange Commission in the period over stock valuations that resulted in the firm having to take a $506 million write-down on the value of some of its shares of Wells Fargo (WFC - Get Report) and Kraft Foods (KFT). Hedge funds that manage more than $100 million are required to disclose their equity holdings, options and convertible debt on a Form 13F filed to the SEC within 45 days of the end of a quarter. Funds aren't required to report short positions betting on declines. Buffett, who is both chairman and chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway, and his top lieutenant, Charlie Munger, 87, may be telegraphing that they're ready for a change after the weak first quarter the company posted and the dormant investment portfolio.