Warren Buffett Stocks That Did Best Aren’t All Obvious

Apple (AAPL) and Moody’s (MCO) are two well-known winning Warren Buffett stocks. But many of his top stocks in 2020 are far less obvious.


A dozen U.S.-traded stocks in the current Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA) public portfolio are up an index-topping 16% or more this year, including information technology play Apple and consumer discretionary Amazon.com (AMZN).

But perhaps more interesting are the less-known winners. Think stocks like recent IPO Snowflake (SNOW), consumer stock RH (RH) and Brazilian tech play StoneCo (STNE), says an Investor’s Business Daily analysis of data from S&P Global Market Intelligence and MarketSmith.

And it’s a good thing Buffett hit these winners. Just 12 of Berkshire Hathaway’s public portfolio, or only 27%, topped the 15.5% rise by the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY). The rest, lagged far behind the S&P 500, serving up a reminder of the importance of picking leaders in top sectors. Shares of Berkshire Hathaway itself trailed the S&P 500, rising only about 1.5% in 2020.

Warren Buffett Portfolio Saved By Technology Stocks

Buffett might be known for blowing off technology. But the information technology sector powered most of his big gains this year.

Of the 12 Buffett stocks that topped the S&P 500, four are in information technology. The big tech winner? Snowflake. Berkshire now owns more than 12% of the cloud data processing company. It’s hard to know how much Berkshire paid. But even assuming the 120 a share initial public offering price, that stake is now up more than 150%. That makes it Buffett’s top-performing public holding this year.

But e-commerce play StoneCo isn’t far behind. The value of Berkshire’s 6.3% position in the company more than doubled in value this year. That put an extra $612 million into Buffett’s portfolio.

And yet, Apple is still Buffett’s big winner on a dollar basis. Shares are up 84% this year, which is important once you realize that one Buffett stock represents roughly 48% of Berkshire’s U.S.-listed public portfolio. The gain in just that one stock put $58 billion into Buffett’s portfolio this year — more than any other by many times.

Mastercard (MA) is Berkshire’s other winning tech play.

Buffett Holds Consumer Discretionary Stocks, Too

Consumer discretionary stocks helped Buffett, too.

RH, a seller of high-end furniture, saw its shares jump 111% this year. It’s a small part of the Berkshire portfolio, at just 0.3%. But he owns 8.4% of the company, amounting to a $405 million gain. Amazon, too, continues to deliver for Buffett although he might hope he owns more as shares jumped 80% in 2020. Berkshire only own 0.1% of Amazon.

Clearly, it was a tough year for Berkshire Hathaway. And most Buffett stock picks didn’t work out so well. But when they did, they really did.

Big Warren Buffett Stock Winners In 2020

Based on last disclosed holdings among U.S.-listed positions in Berkshire Hathaway’s portfolio

Company Symbol Sector 2020 % Gain
Snowflake (SNOW) Information Technology 153.4%
RH (RH) Consumer Discretionary 111.0%
StoneCo (STNE) Information Technology 108.3%
Apple (AAPL) Information Technology 83.7%
Amazon.com (AMZN) Consumer Discretionary 79.8%
T-Mobile US (TMUS) Communication Services 69.8%
DaVita (DVA) Health Care 54.6%
United Parcel Service (UPS) Industrials 44.4%
Charter Communications (CHTR) Communication Services 37.1%
AbbVie (ABBV) Health Care 18.3%
Moody’s (MCO) Financials 18.2%
Mastercard (MA) Information Technology 16.1%
Sources: IBD, S&P Global Market Intelligence