Warren Buffett has slashed his Wells Fargo stake to a 17-year low. Here’s a chart tracking his 30-year investment in the banking titan

warren buffett
Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett talks with a shareholder before the company’s annual meeting in Omaha May 4, 2013.

  • Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway cut its stake in Wells Fargo to 3.3%, its lowest level since 2003.
  • The billionaire investor’s company owned more than 13% of the bank in 1994, and more than $29 billion worth of its shares in 2017.
  • Scroll down for a chart tracking Berkshire’s Wells Fargo investment over the past 30 years.
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Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway recently slashed its Wells Fargo stake to a 17-year low, signaling the famed investor has soured on the banking giant, one of his biggest investments for the better part of 30 years.

The famed investor’s conglomerate originally spent about $290 million between 1989 and 1990 to acquire a 9.7% stake in the bank. It grew that ownership position as high as 13.3% in 1994, and held as many as 500 million Wells Fargo shares in 2015 and 2016.

The value of its investment peaked at more than $29 billion in 2017, representing an almost 250% gain on its $11.8 billion cost.

However, Berkshire has reduced its position by more than 60% this year to 136 million shares as of September 4. Those shares were worth less than $3.3 billion on Tuesday, and account for just 3.3% of the bank’s outstanding shares — Berkshire’s smallest stake since 2003.

Wells Fargo’s fake-accounts scandal, and the regulatory limits imposed on its lending as punishment, may explain why Buffett is bearish on the bank.

Berkshire also sold a bunch of financial stocks last quarter, suggesting rock-bottom interest rates and hefty loan-loss provisions might also be on the investor’s mind.

Here’s a chart showing how the size and value of Berkshire’s Wells Fargo investment has changed over the past 30 years: