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Translating Buffett's Latest Bets

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The Oracle of Omaha sees us as a bunch of cheapskates.

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As for the latest filing, what caught our attention is how hard the legend has now moved into Walmart (WMT).

In fact, the man nearly doubled his holdings to 37.8 million shares on September 30 from 19.9 million shares at the end of June.

Buffett would seem to be making a long-term call, in part, on the newfound frugality of the American consumer. There are those smart strategists that believe men and women, after this economic downturn, will fundamentally shift how they think about saving and spending.

This is a change that appears to transcend socio-economic status.

According to data tracker NPD Group, as highlighted in BusinessWeek, visits to fast-food restaurants declined 3% over the summer, the worst performance in decades. Your white-shoe friends aren't feeling any more carefree with their cash, as evidenced in "Global Champagne Sales Are Going Flat" in The New York Times.

A community of tight-fisted consumers would benefit discounters like Walmart. At least Buffett seems to think so.

Another noticeable change in his portfolio: a stake of 1.28 million shares on September 30 in Exxon (XOM), up from 854,490 in June.

We understand why Buffett likes Exxon, the world's largest refiner. Analysts point to its industry-leading profits and stellar financial health.

"Also, if there is inflation, which Buffett is concerned with, the price of oil goes up and that helps Exxon," says Howard.

Buffett also reported new stakes in Nestle (NSRGY), The Travelers Companies (TRV), and Republic Services (RSG). He increased his stake in Wells Fargo (WFC).


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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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