Call it the Buffett Effect. The famed investor known as the “Oracle of Omaha” has, through his Berkshire Hathaway company, sold $900 million in Walmart shares, as of the last quarter of 2016. That tally represented about 90 percent of Berkshire’s holdings, with a 12-year investment history with the common shares.
The stock finished flat on the day at $68.69. The less than $100 million stake that Buffett still maintains in the company is leagues below the $3 billion that had been seen last year. The guessing games as to why the stake had been whittled, however, begin for real on Wall Street.
As has been noted in any number of publications, the retailing giant has been facing stiff competition from the likes of Amazon, and the war has been heating up on the eCommerce front. Walmart has been putting capital to work in its eCommerce operations, with eight quarters of sales growth as measured domestically. Yet, Amazon has been estimated to have accounted for as much as half of the sector’s growth over last year’s all-important holiday shopping timeframe. Fortune itself has noted that, at the Berkshire annual meeting, the investor said of Amazon that “it is a big, big force, and it has already disrupted plenty of people,” with the potential to “disrupt more.”