Exchange traded fund (ETF) blind item: which bigwig has started sinking his copious money into his favorite blue chips and international stocks?

That would be, of course, Microsoft founder Bill Gates. While he’s not Warren Buffett, he is watched because of his foundation’s focus on value and his association with the famed investor, says the Tickerspy staff.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is the largest transparently operated charitable trust in the world, and it counts Buffett as one of its trustees. An annual letter released by the foundation has some interesting things to note:

  • The foundation has a massive Berkshire Hathaway stake at $30 billion, which it trimmed slightly in the fourth quarter.
  • Growth in 2009 is being cut back to 10%, after 30% growth in 2008.
  • Holdings toward the end of the year include increased stakes in blue chips such as McDonald’s (MCD), Caterpillar (CAT), Costco (COST) and Waste Management (WMI).

As for performance, the top holdings in the foundation are lagging the stock market slightly. But if you want exposure to what Bill Gates is holding onto, some ETFs that hold these companies include:

  • Market Vectors Environmental Services (EVX): Waste Management is 12.6%

  • Retail HOLDRs (RTH): Costco is 5.6%

  • iShares S&P Global Industrials (EXI): Caterpillar is 1.6%

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.