One of the reasons that I started this website is because I so admired the investing style of Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett. I have marveled at the investment strategy of Warren Buffett since my college days and have long since considered him one of the greatest minds in value investing. There is another reason however that I follow Buffett’s financial wisdom. Buffett has been a generous investor and his philanthropic endeavors continued in 2012. [Read more...]
Fairfax Financial Holdings (FFH.TO) is a Canadian financial holding company that operates in the property, casualty, and life insurance and reinsurance, investment management, and insurance claims management businesses. Although the company is based in Canada, the bulk of its operations take place in the United States. United States businesses accounted for 49% of earned premiums, Canada 26%, and international markets for 25%. Fairfax Holdings has been in business since 1985.
According to Meyer Shields of Stifel Nicholas, Now Is The Time To Sell Berkshire Hathaway. Shields believe that shares of Berkshire Hathaway are overvalued and are due for a dip. Berkshire Hathaway has been in the news a lot recently as analysts and pundits have thrown out different suggestions as to what Berkshire should do going forward.
Warren Buffett used to say that he never invested in technology companies because he doesn’t understand them. That doesn’t mean that his holding company, Berskhire Hathaway doesn’t invest in information technology companies. Recently, Buffett’s company has had an appetite for information services companies. These investments were probably made by Charlie Munger or Lou Simpson.
One of the major cogs of the three headed monster at Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A) is stepping down. Lou Simpson, the Geico portfolio manager, announced his plans to retire today. This is important despite the fact that it has gone largely unnoticed by most major media networks.
There has been a lot of speculation over who will take over when Warren Buffett steps down. Buffett is the creator, founder, and mastermind behind the success at Berkshire Hathaway. Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A) is the highest valued stock in the stock market with a price of $116,305.00 per share. Buffett has turned early investors into multimillionaires through his shrewd investment moves.
Rumors have Li Lu taking over for the longtime Berkshire chairman when he finally does retire. Lu is a Columbia graduate and chairman of Himalaya Capital Management. Lu has made a number of smart investments including his deployment of capital in BYD Company Limited. Although Lu is a very successful investor, he will be placed in a situation where it will be impossible to duplicate the results of the investing legend.
Here are a few reasons why there will never be another Warren Buffett.
1) The stock market’s days of double digit growth are likely over.
There will always be potential in smaller stocks for double digit gains but the market as a whole will not be as robust as it once was. The 5 largest stakes in the Berkshire portfolio are Coca Cola, Wells Fargo, American Express, Proctor & Gamble, and Kraft Foods. These 5 large cap stocks represent nearly 70% of the entire $48 billion dollar public stock portfolio. These are all great companies but none are expected to grow at a double digit rate. A lot will depend on Buffett’s successor’s ability to make strategic acquisition to Berkshire Holdings. Buffett has a knack for knowing that GEICO and Dairy Queen would be great additions to the company’s holdings.
2.) Buffett’s successor will be managing a multibillion dollar portfolio.
It will be impossible with a portfolio that large to come near the past successes of Warren Buffett. Buffett has been able to generate an average return of 20% annually for over 45 years. In his 2008 annual report Buffett himself stated that “Berkshire’s past record can’t be duplicated or even approached. Our base of assets and earnings is now far too large for us to make outsized gains in the future.” An informed investor actually has a better chance of outperforming Berkshire due to their ability to take advantage of new opportunities and remain nimble in the marketplace.
3) Investors buy shares of Berkshire Hathaway for one reason and one reason only, Warren Buffett.
Everyone wants to own what Buffett owns. The disclosure of his holdings each quarter drives fund managers and investors alike to acquire shares of Buffett’s newest acquisitions. I am convinced that investors trying to mimic the moves of Buffett plays some small part in the rising prices of Buffett’s investments. When Buffett is no longer at the helm, will investors pay up for shares of Berkshire and scramble to acquire the newest Berkshire acquisition?
Warren Buffett’s Smart Investments
Any list of great CEO’s would not be complete without Warren Buffett. Buffett is the head of Berkshire Hathaway and the namesake for this blog. Berkshire Hathaway is the holding company for Geico, Dairy Queen, Nebraska Furniture Mart, Burlington Northern, and a number of subsidiaries.
The Oracle of Omaha is still one of the greatest investors around. With so many pundits claiming the demise of Buffett’s investment prowess; Buffett just continues to make shrewd investments. How about his investment in Goldman Sachs (GS) when the investment bank was desperate for capital? His $5 billion dollar investment looks pretty smart now even with Goldman’s government problems. How about his $3 billion dollar stake in General Electric (GE) during the financial crisis? While the warrants are still underwater, the 10% dividend on preferred shares has paid off nicely.
His company, Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) has made millionaires out of many investors over the past 25 years. Shares have skyrocketed from $7,100 in 1990 to over $118,280 in 2010. The stock has performed well in recent years also. Berkshire Hathaway has returned 98.12% to shareholders over the past decade. Buffett’s shareholder meetings are legendary with investors trekking to Nebraska annually to hear the financial wisdom of Buffett. While insurance companies like AIG needed government bailouts to stay afloat; Berkshire Hathaway has not needed one dime from the government. This is because Buffett has managed to properly manage risk. The firm has made some poor bets on derivatives in the past but did not allow these bets to jeopardize the underlying businesses.
This outstanding performance comes at a cheap price. The world’s third richest man is arguably the most underpaid CEO of any major company. Buffett takes home just $100,000 annually in salary. Buffett’s salary has been the same for the past 25 years. His total compensation comes in at just over half a million a year with over $300,000 being spent on personal security to protect Buffett. Buffett is generous with both his time and money. He has pledged to donate 85% of his wealth to charitable causes and shares his insights with young investors.
I do own shares of Berkshire Hathaway Class B stock.
Photo by: Ethan Bloch
Moody’s downgraded the credit rating for Berkshire Hathaway and several of the company’s insurance subsidiaries.
Moody’s says Berkshire and its insurance companies, including National Indemnity and Geico, aren’t as strong financially because the market value of their investments has fallen. Also, Moody’s says the recession hurt Berkshire’s non-insurance businesses.
“These extraordinary market pressures have reduced the excess cushion available from National Indemnity and the other affected operations to support potential funding needs of the parent company,” Moody’s analyst Bruce Ballentine said in a statement.
It appears that ratings agencies are being ultra conservative after being too lenient for years in their ratings of financial companies.
Dow Chemical (DOW) dropped to $6.50 today. I am now convinced that if the Rohm & Haas deal is completed that Dow will not be a viable company. It is finally in Rohm & Haas best interest to negotiate a lower price. If the deal is completed Dow will be running to the government for funding.
Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B) Class B shares are looking cheap. Berkshire is one of the few AAA rated companies left. Plus you get the opportunity to invest with the world’s greatest investor for $2,300.
I am adding more Nike (NKE) stock to my long term portfolio. Great balance sheet and the stock is trading at just over $39 per share. Nike has no debt problems and does not rely on borrowing to fund operations.
I have not bought any Microsoft (MSFT) stock in years but at roughly $15 a share I am willing to buy again.