The Oracle of Omaha has given up on Oracle, the company

Risk manager.
Risk manager.
Image: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton
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The Oracle of Omaha doesn’t see a future for technology company Oracle.

According to regulatory documents filed this week, Berkshire Hathaway—the multibillion-dollar holding company headed by legendary investor Warren Buffett—dumped its $2.1 billion stake in Oracle after holding it for a single quarter.

It’s not clear what caused the sudden change of heart, or even the initial purchase from the normally technology-cautious investor. Besides a sudden dip around Christmas Eve, Oracle’s share price has traded in a fairly narrow range. After years of steady growth, the database company’s fortunes have waned in recent quarters. But Berkshire’s filings only reveal holdings at the end of quarters, so we know that the Oracle stake it held at the end of the third quarter disappeared at the end of the fourth, but not whether Buffett’s firm gained or lost money on the sale.

Berkshire trimmed other technology holdings at the end of 2018, too: it held 249.6 million Apple shares at the end of the fourth quarter, down from 252.5 million at the end of the quarter before. With a value of around $39 billion, this is by far the group’s largest single investment. Amid reports of falling iPhone sales in China and elsewhere, Apple’s share price has fallen in the past six months by around 20%.

According to the filing, Buffett is looking beyond technology companies to old-economy stalwarts such as banks, cars, and petroleum. Berkshire boosted its holdings in JPMorgan, Bank of America, and General Motors, and opened a position in Canadian oil and gas producer Suncor Energy.

Berkshire’s stakes in Kraft and Coca-Cola remained unchanged, despite a rough stretch for companies. Yesterday, Coke’s shares suffered their worst day in a decade. (Buffett loves fast food and has said he drinks five cans of Coke a day.)

The market pays attention when Berkshire reveals its holdings. JPMorgan got a jolt on the news, while Oracle’s shares sagged.