While breast cancers with distant metastasis at presentation (de novo metastasis) harbor significantly inferior clinical outcomes, there have been limited studies analyzing the clinicopathologic characteristics in this subset of patients. In this study, we analyzed 6126 breast cancers diagnosed between 1998 and 2013 to identify factors associated with de novo metastatic breast cancer. When compared to patients without metastasis at presentation, race, histologic grade, estrogen/progesterone receptor (ER/PR) and HER2 statuses were significantly associated with de novo metastasis in the entire cohort, whereas age, histologic grade, PR and HER2 status were the significant parameters in the subset of patients with locally advanced breast cancer (Stage IIB/III). The patients with de novo metastatic breast cancer had a significant older mean age and a lower proportion of HER2-positive tumors when compared to those with metastatic recurrence. Further, the HER2-rich subtype demonstrated a drastically higher incidence of de novo metastasis when compared to the luminal and triple-negative breast cancers in the entire cohort [odds ratio (OR) = 5.68 and 2.27, respectively] and in the patients with locally advanced disease (OR = 4.02 and 2.12, respectively), whereas no significant difference was seen between de novo metastatic cancers and those with metastatic recurrence. Moreover, the luminal and HER2-rich subtypes showed bone-seeking (OR = 1.92) and liver-homing (OR = 2.99) characteristics, respectively, for the sites of de novo metastasis, while the latter was not observed in those with metastatic recurrence. Our data suggest that an algorithm incorporating clinicopathologic factors, especially histologic grade and receptor profile, remains of significant benefit during decision making in newly diagnosed breast cancer in the pursuit of precision medicine.