When investors across the world panicked over the past couple weeks, Berkshire Hathaway’s (NYSE:BRK.A) Warren Buffett did what has made him a mega-billionaire — that is, he went on the hunt for bargains. In fact, he is not even convinced the U.S. is headed for a recession.
OK, so what is Buffett buying? He has not disclosed any positions. But we’ll get an idea when the next SEC filings are released.
Yet it would be reasonable that Buffett has been adding to his existing holdings, especially those companies that are sporting strong dividends.
So here are some possibilities:
Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) — 2.9%: Its massive scale is a key advantage in terms of sourcing and marketing. But with over $420 billion revenues, it is tough to find growth.
However, Wal-Mart is getting aggressive. For example, there is much opportunity in global markets (they represent about a quarter of overall revenues). Actually, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal, the company is exploring a $9.9 billion acquisition of the Brazilian stores of Carrefour SA. This would represent a great launchpad to capitalize on the strong growth in Latin America.
Besides this, Wal-Mart is looking at ways to leverage its distribution with high-margin products. To this end, the company now is offering streaming videos through its Vudu property. It’s a way to get a piece of the red-hot Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) business.
Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE:WFC) — 1.9%: It’s certainly been a horrible year for bank stocks. In the case of Well Fargo, its shares are off 20%.
But the company has one of the best management teams in the financial services industry. There also are the advantages of a low-cost capital structure and a diversified platform of businesses.
As for the valuation? It is certainly attractive. The price-to-earnings ratio is only 9.
ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) — 4.1%: The oil giant plans to spin off its refining business as a public entity (it should be completed by the middle of 2012). It’s a smart move that should enhance shareholder value and allow for the parent company to focus on exploration.
In the meantime, ConocoPhillips continues to generate substantial cash flows. No doubt, this means strong share buybacks and dividend payouts.
True, the recent plunge in crude oil will be a drag. But investors already have discounted the stock price. Keep in mind that ConocoPhillips’ PE ratio is only 8.
General Electric (NYSE:GE) — 3.8%: The company’s portfolio of businesses are poised for some major global trends, such as in health care, clean energy, transportation and infrastructure. These are the kinds of markets that should provide GE with a nice growth ramp for the long haul.
The company also has been working on streamlining its operations. For example, GE transferred a 51% interest in NBC Universal division to Comcast (NYSE:CMCSA).
Interestingly enough, there might be a similar opportunity with GE Capital. A transaction could unlock about $68 billion, which is about half the market cap of the parent company.
Tom Taulli is the author of various books, including “All About Commodities” and “All About Short Selling.” You can find him at Twitter account @ttaulli. He does not own a position in any of the stocks named here.