Led by billionaire and financial icon Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission Tuesday that it sold almost two thirds of its stock in health-care giant Johnson & Johnson during the second quarter, which ended June 30.
The sales cut Berkshire's J&J holdings from just over 29 million shares to 10.3 million.
J&J and several divisions have struggled to deal with manufacturing problems and allegations of illegal marketing.
The McNeil Consumer Healthcare division, with a headquarters and factory in Fort Washington, halted production of over-the-counter medicine in April 2010 because of several manufacturing problems that led to dozens of recalls. A federal judge will have to approve plans for resumption of production.
Meanwhile, the J&J's Janssen subsidiary has been accused of illegal marketing of the antipsychotic drug Risperdal in several states. An Arkansas judge ordered the company to pay $1.2 billion in that state's case. J&J is negotiating with the federal government and other states in a separate investigation that might result in a penalty in excess of $2 billion.
In February, Buffett said in an interview with CNBC he was disappointed with what had occurred with J&J.
"They have some wonderful products and a wonderful balance sheet, but too many mistakes have been made at J&J," Buffett told CNBC. "Clearly, they have not lived up to their standards."
In that interview, Buffett suggested he might sell J&J stock in the future. A link to the PhillyPharma post from that day is here.
In the first quarter filing, Berkshire said that as of March 31, it held 29,018,127 shares of J&J. A link to the SEC filing is here.
In second quarter filing, Berkshire said that as of June 30, it held 10,333,128 shares. Tuesday's filing is here.