Tracking Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Portfolio - Q1 2017 Update



  • The huge ~$19B portfolio has just 16 positions.
  • The largest position, Berkshire Hathaway is at a whopping ~57% of the portfolio.
  • Last six quarters have seen only very minor adjustments.


Gates Foundation portfolio value decreased marginally this quarter from $19B to $18.86B. Over the years, the portfolio has become extremely concentrated. In their first 13F filing in 2002, they had about 27 positions and the total portfolio value was ~$1.8B. Currently, the portfolio is over ten times that while the number of positions has gone down to just 16.

To know more about Gates and the Foundation, check-out the book Bill Gates: The Inspirational Life Story of Bill Gates; Businessman, Inventor, and the World's Most Remarkable Philanthropist.

Below is a look at the top holdings:

Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B): BRK.B is by far the largest stake at 56.86% of the portfolio. The original position is from Q3 2006 at a cost-basis in the mid-60s. The size of the stake peaked at ~87M shares in Q4 2012 and the current position is at ~64M shares. Q3 2016 saw a ~15% stake increase at prices between $143 and $151 while last quarter saw a ~7% trimming at prices between $143 and $167. There was another ~7% trimming this quarter at prices between $159 and $177. The previous significant buying was in Q3 2015 when around 11M shares were purchased at prices between $129 and $144. The stock currently trades at ~$167.

Waste Management (WM):  WM was a very small ~1.2M share position during their first 13F filing in Q3 2002. The current position is at ~18.6M shares (7.20% of the portfolio). The bulk of the position is from Q3 2009 when around 8M shares were purchased at a cost-basis in the high-20s. 2010 also saw a ~3M share increase in the mid-30s. Since then, the position has been left untouched. The stock has doubled and currently goes for $73.43.

Canadian National Railway (CNI): CNI is the third-largest stake at 6.71% of the portfolio. Since 2008, the position has remained remarkably steady at ~17M shares. The bulk of the stake was built during the period from 2006 to 2008 at a cost-basis in the low-20s. CNI currently trades at $80.39.

Caterpillar Inc. (CAT): The 5.54% portfolio stake in CAT was first purchased in 2005 and built during the following years. Around 5M shares were purchased during the period from 2005 to 2008 at a cost-basis in the low-60s. The stock is currently at $104. The last significant activity was in Q2 & Q4 2014 - around 1M shares were purchased at a cost-basis near $100. For investors attempting to follow Gates Foundation, CAT is a good option to consider for further research.

Wal-Mart Inc. (WMT): The top-five 4.43% WMT position was established in 2006 with the bulk purchased in 2007 and 2010 at a cost-basis in the high-40s. The last significant activity was in Q4 2013 when around 500K shares were purchased at a cost-basis in the mid-70s. The stock is now at $74.84

Note: Recent 13F filings also show significant ownership stakes in two CEFs: 5.1% of The China Fund (CHN) and 5.1% of Morgan Stanley Asia Pacific Fund (APF). Both trade at double-digit discounts to NAV currently.

The spreadsheet below shows Gates Foundation’s holdings as of Q1 2017. Please visit our previous updates to get an idea on how the portfolio has progressed:



To learn more about how to profit from a strategy of cloning hedge fund picks, check out our book Profiting from Hedge Funds: Winning Strategies for the Little Guy.   





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