Berkshire portfolio down 25%

Financial meltdown hurts Warren Buffett's holding company in the fourth quarter.

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By Ben Rooney, staff writer

NEW YORK ( -- Berkshire Hathaway Inc., the holding company run by legendary investor Warren Buffett, saw its overall investment portfolio shrink by 25% in the fourth quarter, according to regulatory forms filed Tuesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In the the three months ended Dec. 31, the Omaha, Neb.-based company's overall holdings decreased to $51.87 billion from $69.89 billion at the end of September.

The bulk of the paper losses were tied to Berkshire's investments in financial services sector, which has been battered by the credit crisis and volatile markets.

Berkshire's stake in Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500), for example, had a market value of $70.4 million as of Dec. 31, down from $175 million at the end of September, according to the regulatory forms. The value of its holdings in Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC, Fortune 500) and Atlanta-based Sun Trusts Banks Inc (STI, Fortune 500) also decreased.

Despite the turmoil in the financial sector, however, Berkshire maintained its position of 48 million shares in ratings agency Moodys. (MCO)

Meanwhile, Berkshire took a new position worth more than $100 million as of Dec. 31, in water treatment company Nalco Holding Co. (NLC), according to the SEC forms.

Berkshire acquired 19 million shares of Constellation Energy Group (CEG, Fortune 500), and sold roughly 4 million shares of energy giant ConocoPhillips (COP, Fortune 500). It increased its stake in NRG Energy Inc. (NRG, Fortune 500), a diversified electricity producer.

Berkshire's (BRK.A) class A stock closed $4,140 lower at $84,000 a share on the New York Stock Exchange Tuesday.

-- An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that Berkshire Hathaway sold shares of ratings agency Moody's. regrets the error.  To top of page

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