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Is Todd Combs Smarter Than Warren Buffett?

Warren Buffett has said that if a position is small, it is probably picked by Todd Combs. If the transaction is large, it is probably he who is behind the trade. During the second quarter Berkshire Hathaway increased its stake in ConocoPhillips by 27%. Berkshire had nearly $2.8 Billion in COP at the end of June. This means Buffett spent nearly $600 Million on COP during the second quarter. Buffett increased his stake in Wells Fargo by 3% during the second quarter as well. Three percent may seem like a small number but the transaction size was around $300 Million. Finally Buffett sold 5% of his stake in Kraft Foods (KFT).

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Berkshire increased its  stake in Mastercard (MA) by 88% during the second quarter. That transaction is about $60 Million and probably Todd Combs is behind it. We think Combs initiated two brand new positions that are less than $75 Million in value as well. Combs had $73 Million in Verisk Analytics (VRSK) and $51 Million in Dollar General (DG).

Who did better, Todd Combs or Warren Buffett?

COP lost 9.45% since the end of June and Wells Fargo lost 10%. Both stocks underperformed S&P 500’s 8.6% loss. Kraft was one of best performing stocks in Buffett’s portfolio, losing only 2%. Unfortunately Buffett sold Kraft. So Buffett was on the wrong side in all of his three transactions.

Mastercard returned 11% since the end of June and it was the best performing stock in Berkshire’s portfolio. Verisk lost 7% and Dollar General lost 5%, but both stocks outperformed the SPY. So Combs was right on all of his three transactions.

Six weeks is a short time period to arrive at any definite conclusion but so far it seems like Todd Combs doesn’t carry a lot of baggage from the past and his picks are better than Buffett’s.

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