Berkshire sells some HP shares after taking big stake last year

By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) – Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway said on Wednesday it has sold about 5.5 million shares of HP, undoing part of what has been a large, unsuccessful investment in the maker of personal computers and printers.

Berkshire sold the shares this week for about $158 million, reducing its HP stake to about $3.27 billion, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Buffett’s company now owns about 11.7% of HP’s shares, down from 12.2% before the sales, SEC filings show.

Wednesday’s filing does not say why Berkshire sold shares. Berkshire did not immediately respond to a request for comment after market hours.

HP’s share price has fallen 19% since Berkshire in April 2022 revealed an unexpected $4.2 billion stake in the Palo Alto, California-based company, which had been separated seven years earlier from the former Hewlett-Packard.

That disclosure caused HP’s share price to rise 14.8% the following day to $40.06. The shares closed down 61 cents at $28.33 on Wednesday.

On Aug. 29, HP lowered its forecast for full-year profit, as it combats a year-long slump in personal computers and sluggish demand from China.

Then on Monday, HP disclosed material weaknesses in its controls over financial reporting, which related to one of its customers and to a payment application for some sales incentive programs.

Companies’ stock prices often rise when Berkshire discloses new stakes, reflecting investors’ regard for Buffett, the world’s fifth-richest person according to Forbes magazine.

Stock prices, conversely, sometimes fall when Berkshire discloses sales.

Buffett does not regularly invest in technology companies, though iPhone maker Apple comprised about half of Berkshire’s $353.4 billion equity portfolio at the end of June.

Berkshire is based in Omaha, Nebraska. It also owns dozens of businesses including the BNSF railroad and Geico car insurance.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Lincoln Feast)