BP Bought Up Exxon Stock. It Slashed Stakes in Apple, Chevron, and Microsoft.

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British oil giant BP more than doubled its investment in Exxon stock, and cut stakes in Apple, Chevron, and Microsoft.

Logan Cyrus / AFP via Getty Images

British oil giant


recently disclosed big changes in its U.S.-listed stock portfolio.

BP cut investments in


(ticker: AAPL),


(CVX), and


(MSFT), and more than doubled its stake in


Mobil (XOM) stock. The firm disclosed the stock trades, among others, in a form it filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

BP didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The company sold 164,754 Apple shares to end the second quarter with 376,971 shares of the iPhone maker.

Apple stock hasn’t kept up with the market in 2021. Shares rose 3.2% in the first half, and so far in the third quarter they have gained 8.9%. For comparison, the

S&P 500 index

rose 14.4% in the first half, and so far in the third quarter it has risen 4.0%.

Apple investors have taken profits in the wake of strong earnings reports. The company has been building out its ad business. One observer thinks Apple’s ad business could rise to about $3 billion in ad revenue in the fiscal year ending September, up from about $300 million in fiscal 2017.

BP slashed four-fifths of its investment in Chevron stock by selling 160,052 shares and ending June with 43,117 shares of the U.S. energy giant. Chevron stock soared 24% in the first half, and so far in the third quarter it has slipped 2.7%.

Chevron CEO Michael Wirth told us that most meetings “now begin with a discussion of [environmental, social and governance factors], and that wasn’t the case just a few years ago.” But the company’s challenge is “to deliver higher returns and lower carbon.” In July, Chevron announced a new stock-repurchase program. We recently highlighted big dividends in the sector, noting Chevron’s yield of more than 5%.

Microsoft stock soared 21.8% in the first half, and so far in the third quarter it is up 8.1%.

Microsoft stock has been trading at record highs. The software giant’s fiscal fourth quarter, ended June 30, was strong. We’ve named CEO Satya Nadella to our list of top CEOs, noting that he is “one of the greatest value-generating corporate leaders of all time.”

BP sold 186,205 Microsoft shares to end the quarter with 524,975 shares.

The energy giant bought 178,852 additional Exxon shares to end June with 315,118 shares. Exxon stock rocketed 53% in the first half, and so far in the third quarter it has slipped 10%.

Exxon has seen earnings improve, but there have been major changes in its board: An upstart hedge fund won three seats in the latest election. Exxon is now considering pledging “net zero” carbon by 2050.

Inside Scoop is a regular Barron’s feature covering stock transactions by corporate executives and board members—so-called insiders—as well as large shareholders, politicians, and other prominent figures. Due to their insider status, these investors are required to disclose stock trades with the Securities and Exchange Commission or other regulatory groups.

Write to Ed Lin at edward.lin@barrons.com and follow @BarronsEdLin.

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