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Mar. 2, 2014, 2:06 AM
- Berkshire Hathaway's (BRK.A) Q4 net profit rose almost 10% to $4.99B, or $3,035 per class A share, helped by gains at the company's insurance units.
- Operating profit +34% to $3.78B, or $2,297 a share.
- Full-year net profit +31% to $19.48B, or $11,850 a share; operating profit +20% to $15.14B, or $9,211 a share.
- Berkshire's 2013 book value per share, Warren Buffett's preferred measure of net worth, grew18.2% after taxes to $134,973.
- From 2009-2013, book value increased 91%, while that of the S&P 28%; that's the first time that Buffett has failed in his goal of growing Berkshire's value faster than the S&P's over a five-year period.
- Berkshire ended 2013 with $48.19B in of cash and equivalents, which gives the company plenty of money to make more big deals.
- Berkshire's full annual report.
Mar. 1, 2014, 7:18 PM
- Berkshire Hathaway's (BRK.A, BRK.B) annual letter hints now might not be the end of major purchases for the conglomerate, specifically in energy. “NV Energy will not be MidAmerican’s last major acquisition,” Warren Buffett writes of last year's $5.6B purchase.
- It's been a year since Berkshire crafted the food industry's biggest takeover with its part in the $28B purchase of Heinz, a "partnership template that may be used by Berkshire in future acquisitions of size," Buffett writes.
- "During the next decade, you will read a lot of news -- bad news -- about public pension plans," he writes, warning about the "gigantic financial tapeworm" created when "promises were made that conflicted with a willingness to fund them."
- No real clues about succession, but promise of a rock-solid business after he's gone: "A century hence, BNSF and MidAmerican Energy will still be playing major roles in our economy," Buffett wrote.
- Berkshire's full annual report
Feb. 27, 2014, 8:31 AM
- Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) has bought another 1.13M shares in DaVita Healthcare (DVA) to take its total holding in the kidney dialysis company to 37.62M shares, or 17.7%.
- The investment is being led by Berkshire fund manager Ted Weschler rather than Warren Buffett.
- Last May, Berkshire agreed not to raise its stake above 25%, and not to push for board seats or launch a proxy fight.
- DaVita shares are +2.2% to $67.50.
Feb. 25, 2014, 5:57 PM
- Bank of America (BAC) says in its annual 10-K filing that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York is investigating the bank’s compliance with the Federal Housing Administration’s direct endorsement program.
- Also, government authorities in North America, Europe and Asia are conducting probes and launching inquiries into BAC's conduct and practices in certain foreign exchange markets over multiple years.
- BofA bumped up by $1B its latest estimate of possible litigation-related losses to $6.1B vs. a year-ago estimate of $3.1B.
- The bank also reached a deal with Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A, BRK.B) to amend terms so that it will have to wait at least five years to redeem preferred stock bought in 2011.
Feb. 21, 2014, 9:58 AM
- Warren Buffett and partner Charlie Munger have been loud critics of HFT, but a WSJ article earlier this month reported Berkshire Hathaway's (BRK.A, BRK.B) Business Wire was giving high-speed traders direct access to earnings reports and other market-moving news items.
- Business Wire's decision to end the practice comes after consultations with The Oracle himself, as well with the NY AG's office. Buffett's involvement is highly unusual as he typically leaves his managers to manage their operations, and limits Omaha's involvement to capital allocation.
- While direct access isn't illegal, combining it with high-speed algorithms to crunch the data gives HFT traders a fleeting, but lucrative edge.
Feb. 20, 2014, 10:44 AM
- Berkshire Hathaway's (BRK.A, BRK.B) BNSF Railway says it plans to buy its own fleet of up to 5,000 new crude oil tank cars with safety features that exceed the latest standards adopted by the industry more than two years ago.
- BNSF's plan, unusual for a railroad which generally owns only the tracks and locomotives that pull trains, is intended to further the industry's push for safer movement of crude by rail in light of several recent derailments and crashes, including one involving a BNSF train in North Dakota last December.
- BNSF isn't identifying railcar makers from which it will seek bids, but U.S. manufacturers include Trinity Industries (TRN +9.5%), American Railcar Industries (ARII +10.3%) and Greenbrier (GBX +5.4%).
Feb. 20, 2014, 9:37 AM
- As Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A, BRK.B) gets bigger, investors increasingly need to rely on Warren Buffett's reputation rather than data, says KBW's Meyer Shields. "It's a critical issue ... You don't really know what you're getting with Berkshire Hathaway." It's no big deal right now, says Jeff Matthews, but "once [Buffet's] gone, people are going to say, 'What's here? What do I really own?'"
- Take Lubrizol, for instance, writes Noah Buhayar. Until being purchased by Berkshire in 2011, the company filed long, detailed annual reports with regulators. Now its results are lumped in with several other Berkshire manufacturing businesses.
- Regulators have noticed and have successfully pushed Buffett for more disclosure as it relates to insurance operations. “The fact that they wouldn’t on their own reflects an attitude of very, very limited disclosure,” says Shields.
- There are no bright lines as to what constitutes material information, says a top securities lawyer. Instead there are rules of thumb, such as whether a unit contributes more than 10% of total revenue. Going back to Lubrizol, its 2012 revenues were $6.1B, well below the $16B that would make up 10% of Berkshire's top line.
Feb. 12, 2014, 6:53 PM
- Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A, BRK.B) is in talks with Graham Holdings (GHC) about a possible share exchange, according to an SEC filing.
- GHC, the company that was renamed after selling the Washington Post newspaper, would create a unit that would own a business and assets to be determined, possibly including Berkshire stock; the two companies haven't agreed on any terms of such a transaction, which would be structured as a tax-free split-off.
- GHC says no deal will be completed "unless it is in the interest of both parties."
- Warren Buffett’s company owns 1.73M GHC shares, a stake of ~28%, valued at ~$1.1B.
Feb. 4, 2014, 6:33 PM
- Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A, BRK.B) says it plans to spend a record $5B at its BNSF railroad this year, a ~25% increase from the target set a year ago, to buy locomotives and maintain track.
- Part of the 2014 investment will go toward handling more crude oil, which helped drive an 11% volume increase in industrial products volumes last year; intermodal shipments, which can move by a combination of rail, road and sea, rose 8%.
- Earlier: Berkshire an underperformer so far this year.
Feb. 4, 2014, 3:59 PM
- Underperforming the S&P 500 this year by 220 basis points is Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A, BRK.B) which is down 7.2% since January 1. At $165,150, the A-class shares are trading for just 1.3x September 30 book value of $126.8K.
- Seeing as it's likely book value is higher today than it was more than 4 months ago, Berkshire could well be below the 1.2x book at which Warren Buffett has said it makes sense to buy back stock.
Jan. 27, 2014, 9:30 AM
- Both owned by Noel Group, MyAssist is a live-agent personal-assistance and telematics service provider, and Insure America is a niche program administrator providing insurance products to the travel industry.
- They are being purchased by the Specialty Insurance group within Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A, BRK.B).
Jan. 24, 2014, 7:27 AM
- What was the CEO of a company you're an owner of up to this week? An index of companies whose execs regularly attend Davos has vastly underperformed the market since 2009.
- Attendance at the gathering tends to be dominated by the financials, with GS, C, HSBC, JPM, LAZ, MS, SCBFF, BAC, ITUB, and UBS leading the way to prove their bona fides as thought leaders. Also spotted were the heads of DOW, and PEP.
- Notably absent: Buffett (BRK.A, BRK.B) , Tim Cook (AAPL) (Jobs never attended either), Jeff Immelt (GE), and Virginia Rometty (IBM). Google's (GOOG) founders and Mark Zuckerberg (FB) stopped going a couple of years ago.
Jan. 23, 2014, 3:33 PM
- Crude oil shipped by rail requires stronger tank cars and safer routes, transportation investigators in the U.S. and Canada say following a series of accidents in North America.
- The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board and Canada's Transportation Safety Board issued recommendations today as part of a probe into last July's derailment of rail cars filled with oil in Quebec.
- "The large-scale shipment of crude oil by rail simply didn't exist 10 years ago, and our safety regulations need to catch up with this new reality," NTSB chief Deborah Hersman says.
- CNI, CP, BRK.A, BRK.B, CSX, UNP, NSC, KSU, GWR.
Jan. 23, 2014, 3:31 AM
- The U.S. Financial Stability Oversight Council is considering whether to designate Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) as a systemically important financial institution (SIFI), Bloomberg reports.
- The holding company is the world's fourth-largest reinsurer, and had $458.1B of assets and $5.8B in derivative liabilities as of September 30. As of Friday, the firm had $31.4B in credit-default swaps linked to its debt.
- Berkshire also owns major stakes in Wells Fargo and American Express.
Jan. 19, 2014, 2:48 AM
- Portfolios managed by Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) investment managers Todd Combs and Ted Weschler did better last year than Warren Buffett's and the S&P 500, the WSJ reports.
- That's the second consecutive year that both men, who were hired as part of Berkshire's succession plan, have beaten Buffett and the index.
- Combs and Weschler have begun 2014 with over $7B each to manage, up from $3B at the start of 2012.
- However, in 2013, Berkshire Hathaway fell short, for the first time, of Buffett's target of increasing the company's net worth more quickly than gains on the S&P over five years. Still, Berkshire's stock price jumped 30% in 2013.
Jan. 2, 2014, 12:25 PM
- Sell-siders scratched their heads when in May 2012 Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A, BRK.B) agreed to buy 63 newspapers for $142M from Media General (MEG -1.3%), and provide $445M in loans to the company. Was The Oracle's love of newspapers interfering with his business judgement?
- It turns out Berkshire received 4.65M "penny warrants" as part of the deal which it exercised in September 2012 - the stock's about a 5-bagger since, and Berkshire's 17% stake is worth $105M. Buffett could sell today and recover most of the $142M paid for the newspapers while still owning them.
Berkshire Hathaway Inc is a conglomerate holding company owning subsidiaries engaged in a number of business activities, including property and casualty insurance and reinsurance, utilities and energy, finance, manufacturing, service and retailing.
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