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Berkshire Hathaway inc. (BRK.B)

  • Today, 12:34 PM
    • The two rail cars that split open and burst into flames during yesterday's oil train derailment in Illinois were retrofitted with protective shields to meet a higher safety standard than federal law requires, BNSF Railway (BRK.A, BRK.B) says.
    • The train’s tank cars were the newer 1232 model, which was designed during safety upgrades voluntarily adopted by the industry in hopes of keeping cars from rupturing during derailments, but 1232 cars involved in three other accidents - including one last month in West Virginia involving a train carrying 3M gallons of North Dakota crude - have split open in the past year.
    • The local sheriff says the train yesterday was transporting oil from the Bakken region.
  • Yesterday, 6:20 PM
    • A BNSF Railway (BRK.A, BRK.B) train with 103 crude cars and two sand cars derailed this afternoon near Galena, Ill., with at least eight cars reportedly off the tracks and at least one emitting smoke.
    • The county sheriff’s reportedly said several cars have caught fire but that it had not yet prompted any evacuations.
  • Wed, Mar. 4, 7:22 AM
    • U.S. companies are raising cash from European bond sales as fast as their bankers can draw up the paperwork, thanks to tumbling yields amid the ECB's QE. Around $27.8B of bonds from U.S. borrowers have been issued in Europe this year, according to Dealogic.
    • The Oracle's nasty, self-serving recent comments about bankers notwithstanding, Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A, BRK.B) has hired BAML, Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, and Wells Fargo to manage the debt sale.
    • Source: WSJ
  • Mon, Mar. 2, 7:48 AM
    • "When Charlie's letter came in and it referenced Greg and Ajit, it was news to me that he was writing that," Warren Buffett tells CNBC after this weekend's annual investor letters ratcheted up speculation Greg Abel and Ajit Jain were first in line to be the next chiefs at Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A, BRK.B). There's "no jockeying" at all going on between the two, he says.
    • Minimum wage: We could afford to pay $20 nationwide, but there'd be a lot of people without jobs. It "distorts the market."
    • IBM: "People have this misconception that - when we buy a stock - we want it to go up. That's the last thing we want it to do ... There's been no surprises at IBM since we started buying it a few years ago ... We expected revenue to come down."
    • AXP - The company has a strong position in its antitrust lawsuit (which it just lost, but plans to appeal). The partnership with Costco ended when the two couldn't come to terms.
    • Previously: Buffett, Munger talk succession and more in annual letters (Feb. 28)
  • Mon, Mar. 2, 1:57 AM
    • Berkshire Hathaway's (NYSE:BRK.A) (NYSE:BRK.B) Q4 net profit declined 16.7% to $4.16B, or $2,529 per class A share; Operating profit +5% to $3.96B, or $2,412 a share.
    • Full-year net profit +2% to $19.87B, or $12,092 a share; operating profit +9.3% to $16.55B, or $10,071 a share.
    • Berkshire's 2014 book value per share grew 8.3% after taxes to $146,186.  
  • Sat, Feb. 28, 5:05 PM
    • “Both the board and I believe we now have the right person to succeed me as CEO - a successor ready to assume the job the day after I die or step down," writes Warren Buffett in his sizable annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A, BRK.B) shareholders. It's the 50th anniversary of Buffett's time at the helm, and investors are being rewarded with a mammoth letter - 43 pages and 25K words - and a separate letter from Charlie Munger.
    • In his letter, Munger suggests reinsurance head Ajit Jain or energy boss Greg Abel as worthy replacements - both, especially Jain, have been on watchers' short lists for some time.
    • Both letters are here.
    • Breakup? Not anytime soon, as Buffett spends a nice chunk of his letter defending Berkshire's conglomerate structure, though allowing conglomerates "richly deserve(d)" bad reputation with investors. The conglomerate, says Buffett, allows master capital allocators like he and Munger to ... well ... allocate capital.
  • Wed, Feb. 25, 8:45 AM
    • Not scared away by what could be a regional slowdown thanks to the oil crash, Houston-based Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A, BRK.B) HomeServices Anderson Properties expands its footprint with the purchase of Paradigm AdvantEdge Realty, which operates throughout Ada and Oklahoma City.
    • Anderson first entered Oklahoma City last summer with the purchase of Prudential Alliance Realty, and this deal gives Anderson six offices there and in Ada, and nearly 250 agents (Anderson as a whole has about 1K agents now).
    • Source: Press release
  • Fri, Feb. 20, 8:33 AM
    • Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A, BRK.B) agrees to purchase Detlev Louis Motorradvertriebs, a German-based retailer of motorcycle apparel and accessories, for €400M.
    • Buffett has been searching for a non-U.S. deal for awhile, and, though this is a small one, The Oracle calls it a "door opener ... I like the fact that we have cracked the code in Germany."
    • This fits the mold of a typical Berkshire purchase - Louis is family-owned and had no interest in selling to P-E or to a rival. It will remain a standalone subsidiary of Berkshire to be overseen by Ted Weschler.
  • Wed, Feb. 18, 2:24 AM
    • Bankruptcy Judge Robert Gerber said yesterday he would consider narrowing the bankruptcy shield awarded to GM (NYSE:GM) in 2009, should the company be found to have violated car owners' constitutional rights by hiding ignition-switch defects during its bankruptcy.
    • Plaintiffs have argued that they should be able to seek compensation from GM itself, rather than its compensation trust, because the company concealed the defects when the bankruptcy sale was approved.
    • Meanwhile, Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A, BRK.B) increased its GM holdings during Q4 by 1M shares to 41M, while George Soros boosted his stake in the company by about 729K shares to 4.9M.
    • Previously: GM fights to maintain bankruptcy shield (Feb. 17 2015)
  • Tue, Feb. 17, 5:11 PM
    • Warren Buffett added to his IBM bet amid the IT giant's Q4 selloff: Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A, BRK.B) owned 77M IBM shares at the end of Q4, up from 70.5M at the end of Q3. (13F filing)
    • Berkshire also upped its stake in Suncor (NYSE:SU) by nearly 4M shares to 22.4M as oil prices plunged. However, the firm dumped the 41M-share stake in Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) it held at the end of Q3, and its 5M-share stake in ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP). Its 449K-share stake in Express Scripts (NASDAQ:ESRX) was also liquidated.
    • A new 8.4M-share stake was taken in Restaurant Brands (QSR - rose 8.7% today following earnings), and a 4.7M-share stake in 21st Century Fox (NASDAQ:FOXA). Existing stakes in GM, DirecTV, MasterCard, and Visa were moderately upped (among others), and stakes in Bank of New York and National Oilwell moderately lowered.
    • Berkshire owned 17.1M Deere (NYSE:DE) shares at the end of Q4, up from 7.6M at the end of Q3 (the Q3 stake was kept confidential). Deere is up 1.6% AH.
    • Overall, Buffett's firm created or expanded positions in 15 companies, and cut or liquidated positions in 5.
  • Mon, Feb. 16, 12:41 PM
    • Select Chinese automobile industry stocks rose today in reaction to Friday's reports on Apple's interest in the electric vehicle market.
    • BYD Group (BRK.A, BRK.B) was up 11% in Hong Kong trading off speculation the company could partner with Apple on an EV project.
    • NavInfo rose 10% in Shenzhen with the company viewed as ripe to see an investment from Apple. Tencent (OTCPK:TCEHY) has a double-digit stake in NavInfo.
    • Shares of parts maker Ningbo Joyson Electronics were up 10% in Shanghai. Ningo is becoming a bigger player in the Chinese automobile industry through acquisitions.
    • Kandi Technologies (NASDAQ:KNDI) is also a stock to watch to see if the Apple sphere of influence touches it.
    • Previously: WSJ: Apple car project is for real, and it's a minivan (Feb. 13 2015)
    • Previously: Apple aftershocks: Maybe it's Toyota that should be worried? (Feb. 14 2015)
  • Thu, Feb. 5, 9:09 AM
    • The Oracle tells Fox Business Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A, BRK.B) will be buying a small business in Western Europe, but he'd really love to buy a big one.
    • Further east? No thanks, says Buffett, who tells the network that while Berkshire does some business in Russia, it's not hunting for bargains there.
    • Buffett also weighs in on rates, and says he thinks it'll be tough for the Fed to hike with global economic growth so sluggish.
  • Tue, Jan. 27, 11:02 AM
    • Berkshire Hathaway's (BRK.A, BRK.B) NetJets won't have to pay the IRS more than $366M in taxes and penalties after a jude rules the tax agency must follow guidance it gave the company's predecessor in 1992.
    • It's a mixed verdict for NetJets though, as the judge also rules the company is not entitled to a refund of more than $220M paid by three of its business units.
  • Wed, Jan. 14, 4:11 PM
    • Leucadia (NYSE:LUK) COO Justin Wheeler has been acting CEO of Berkadia Commercial Mortgage - a JV between LUK and Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A, BRK.B) - since April. Now permanent CEO, he will be stepping down from the COO spot at Leucadia.
    • Source: Press Release
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  • Mon, Jan. 5, 10:50 AM
    • "The market's realizing that it's more than just a stock portfolio," says fund manager and Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A, BRK.B) owner David Rolfe.
    • It wasn't long ago that buying Berkshire was seen as a way to be part of The Oracle's stock-picking prowess, but now it's more about the company's acquisitions and the performance of its operating units.
    • Most of Berkshire's stocks reside in its insurance units and income from those investments accounted for just a sixth of a total of $15.7B in profit in the first nine months of 2014 vs. more than 80% 15 years prior - making sour stock picks like Tesco and IBM of little import.
    • Berkshire more than doubled the S&P 500's 11% gain in 2014.
  • Dec. 31, 2014, 8:43 AM
    • Among the more interesting is the idea of North Korea hackers attacking the infrastructure of the NYSE and Nasdaq, precipitating a gigantic one-hour drop in stocks.
    • Others include: 1) Significantly higher Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) estimates, making it the first $1T market cap company, the best-performing large-cap in 2015, and a "must own." 2) Falling home prices in H2, making shorts of homebuilders (ITB, XHB) a good play 3) Bank stocks (NYSEARCA:XLF) have a hard time of it 4) Calling Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) his new Netflix, Carl Icahn amasses a sizable position, forcing a bidding war for the company between Google and Facebook 5) Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) becomes more shareholder friendly, cutting spending and launching a buyback program 6) Activists take aim at Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO), forcing John Chambers out 7) Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A, BRK.B) makes its largest-ever acquisition, and its not in consumer goods, but instead in energy, retail, or construction/equipment.
    • The full piece is here.
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Company Description
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.