Warren Buffett dumped Tesco before record loss

Buffett can't find cheap stocks to buy
Buffett can't find cheap stocks to buy

Warren Buffett clearly doesn't believe this turnaround story.

The billionaire investor dumped most of his stake in British retailer Tesco (TSCDY) just months before it posted one of the biggest losses in U.K. corporate history.

Tesco said Wednesday it swung to an annual loss of £6.4 billion ($9.6 billion) after a series of missteps saw shoppers vanish. The result compares to a profit of £2.3 billion ($3.4 billion) a year earlier.

The stock crashed nearly 50% last year but has perked up in 2015, with some investors betting on a recovery under new management. Buffett is clearly not one of them, and Tesco shares are still down 20% year-on-year.

Buffett's investment company Berkshire Hathaway had slashed its stake in the supermarket chain by 75% by March 1, according to Factset data, but not before it was forced to take a $678 million charge last year for its holding in the firm.

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Tesco's shocking result follows write downs of more than $10 billion due to a heavy fall in the value of its property, and the cost of store closures at the U.K.'s largest supermarket group. Hefty pension liabilities were another drag.

The firm has been slugged by competition from low price chains, and an accounting scandal in which it admitted to overstating its profit forecasts.

"The results we have published today reflect a deterioration in the market and, more significantly, an erosion of our competitiveness over recent years," Chief Executive Dave Lewis said in a statement.

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The group has also had trouble overseas. Tesco struggled to go it alone in China and its joint venture with a state-owned company was another loss-maker during the past year. The U.K. retailer pulled out of its failed foray into the U.S. in 2012.

Tesco shares were down 5% in London trading.

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