Berkshire Outcast Loads Up on Bank Stock

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- David Sokol has backed up the truck to load up on shares of Middleburg Financial ( MBRG), continuing to add to a position the investor was holding when he resigned from Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway ( BRK-B) in March.

According to Securities and Exchange Commission filings, Sokol purchased 66,811 Middleburg shares for his trust account this month, through Tuesday, for a total of $978,638, or an average price of $14.65 a share. Sokol also picked up 11,817 shares for his IRA account, for $169,743, or an average price of $14.36.
David Sokol

Sokol controlled 1,534,565 shares of Middleburg Financial, or roughly 22% of the company's shares outstanding.

Middleburg Financial's shares closed at $14.76 Tuesday, up 2% so far in August and up 4.5% year-to-date, bucking the trend for the largest U.S. banks. This performance compares quite favorable to the KBW Bank Index ( I:BKX), which was down 21% month-to-date and down a whopping 30% year-to-date.

Some of the best-known U.S. banking names have fared even worse, with Bank of America ( BAC) seeing its shares drop 35% during August through Tuesday's closing price of $6.30. Shares of the nation's largest bank were down 53% year-to-date.

Shares of Citigroup ( C) were down 29% month-to-date and down 42% year-to-date when they closed at $27.32 Tuesday.

Looks like other investors smell a winner in Middleburg Financial (or maybe in Sokol), despite the bank's meager earnings.

Middleburg Financial had $1.1 billion in total assets as of June 30, and reported second-quarter net income of $1.2 million, or 17 cents a share, compared to $724 thousand, or 10 cents a share, a year earlier.

The company's provision for loan losses declined to $1.1 million during the second quarter, from $1.3 million a year earlier, however, this improvement was more than offset by an increase in expenses on foreclosed properties to $606 thousand in the second quarter, from $295 thousand a year earlier.

The bank's net interest margin -- the difference between its average yield on loans and investments and its average cost of funds -- was 3.78% during the second quarter, expanding from 3.67% a year earlier. Its second-quarter return on average assets was 0.39%, which is way below the combined U.S. bank and thrift industry's 0.85%, reported Tuesday by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. .

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