Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Last Chance: 33% Discount Ends Tomorrow

The 33% discount on our quarterly newsletter expires tomorrow.  A brand new issue was just released and reveals the latest portfolios of 25 top hedge funds. 

Find out what stocks they had on their watchlists and finally bought during the market sell-off.  It also includes investment thesis summaries on 3 stocks that value managers have been accumulating.  To see a sample of the newsletter, check out a full past issue here.

33% Discount Expires Tomorrow

The discount expires on February 28th.  After signing up, you'll get immediate access to the new issue & the archive of past issues.

1-year Subscription (4 issues): Normal Price $299.99 Discount Price $199.99 per year

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Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Warren Buffett Interview: Summary, Video & Transcript

Yesterday on CNBC Warren Buffett sat down for a 2-hour interview with Becky Quick and shared his thoughts on a number of financial topics.  Here's a summary and select quotes, with videos and transcript below.

Warren Buffett Interview Summary

- On the economic signals he sees from all his businesses:  "The rate of improvement has tapered but certainly hasn't flattened ... Home construction has been disappointing, but our retail figures in January were not strong, but January is a peculiar month.  Right now things look fine."  He also noted he sees some signs of inflation in raw material costs.

- On the Federal Reserve & interest rates: "I don't second guess (Jay Powell) at all.  He's a terrific choice."  He said what the Fed does doesn't affect what Berkshire does.

- He's amazed that ten years after the crisis that rates are where they are worldwide (especially negative rates) with the world doing 'really well' now.  "The real question for investors: are these rates the new normal?"

-  On Apple (AAPL): "The lower it goes, the better I like it obviously ...  If it were cheaper, we'd be buying it.  We aren't buying it here"  This quote is interesting considering that AAPL was recently down as much as 30+% in the fourth quarter, but Berkshire was a net seller of shares as one of the portfolio managers (not Buffett) was selling.  His average cost basis is around $141 per share.

- Likes financials as "very good investments at sensible prices.  They're cheaper than other businesses that are also good businesses by some margin."  Says Moynihan at Bank of America (BAC) was underestimated and has done excellent.  Says JPMorgan Chase (JPM) is a very well managed bank.

-  Wanted to be buying stocks in Q4 as they were cheaper, but it sounds like Berkshire was keeping cash on hand for a potential acquisition that didn't materialize.  He said they haven't been buying equities yet in 2019 as the market as 'basically gone straight up.'

- Notes that portfolio managers Ted Weschler and Todd Combs since joining Berkshire: "Overall, they are a tiny bit behind the S&P, each, by almost the same margin."  The now manage around $13 billion each.  Buffett says they've also done better than he has over that time period.

-  On the trade war: The tariffs have had some impact on some of his businesses.  "It pushes prices up, there's no question about that."  It hasn't had a big impact at 10% but 25% you'll have to make changes (pricing, sourcing, etc).

- On KraftHeinz (KHC): Brands in general aren't what they used to be, and in many cases consumer packaged goods companies are being threatened by a ton of new brands, increasingly strong private label, and more.  "The ability to price has been changed, and that's huge."  On his investments he noted: "We didn't overpay for Heinz ... but we overpaid for Kraft."  Says the co still has real debt to be reduced.

- Sold Oracle (ORCL) quickly after concluding he didn't understand the business well enough.  His past dalliance with IBM also entered his mind.  "I don't think I understand exactly where the cloud is going."

- "You do not want to have a political view in investing."

- If Bloomberg announced he were running for President, he would be for him.  If Howard Schulz runs as an independent, he thinks he'd take votes away from Democrats, so it'd be a mistake for him to run.  Generally, third party candidates are going to hurt one side.

Warren Buffett Interview Video

Embedded below is the video of the full interview

Warren Buffett Interview Full Transcript

You can also read a full transcript here.

For more from Berkshire, be sure to also read Warren Buffett's annual letter 2018.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Warren Buffett's 2018 Annual Letter: Berkshire Hathaway

Warren Buffett has released his 2018 annual letter in Berkshire Hathaway's annual report.  In it, he notes they bought $43 billion of marketable equities last year and sold $19 billion.  Berkshire now has a cash-equivalents hoard of $112 billion and another $20 billion in fixed income.

Here's some select quotes from the letter with the full text below:

On share buybacks:  "All of our major holdings enjoy excellent economics, and most use a portion of their retained earnings to repurchase their shares. We very much like that: If Charlie and I think an investee’s stock is underpriced, we rejoice when management employs some of its earnings to increase Berkshire’s ownership percentage."

On Berkshire buying back its own shares:  "it is likely that – over time – Berkshire will be a significant repurchaser of its shares, transactions that will take place at prices above book value but below our estimate of intrinsic value. The math of such purchases is simple: Each transaction makes per-share intrinsic value go up, while per-share book value goes down. That combination causes the book-value scorecard to become increasingly out of touch with economic reality."

On holding cash:  "Berkshire will forever remain a financial fortress. In managing, I will make expensive mistakes of commission and will also miss many opportunities, some of which should have been obvious to me. At times, our stock will tumble as investors flee from equities. But I will never risk getting caught short of cash."

On finding private acquisitions: "Prices are sky-high for businesses possessing decent long-term prospects.That disappointing reality means that 2019 will likely see us again expanding our holdings of marketable equities.  My expectation of more stock purchases is not a market call. Charlie and I have no idea as to how stocks will behave next week or next year."

Embedded below is Warren Buffett's annual letter:

You can download a .pdf copy here.

For more from the Oracle of Omaha, be sure to check out Warren Buffett's recommended reading list.

We've also posted up other recent investor letters:

- Excerpts from Baupost Group's letter

- Third Point's Q4 letter 

- Sequoia Fund's letter

Third Point's Q4 Letter: Updates on Baxter, Campbells Soup, United Technologies & Nestle

Dan Loeb and Third Point are out with their fourth quarter letter to investors.  Third Point finished 2018 down 11.3%, only the 4th time in 24 years they've lost more than 1% in a year. 

Their Q4 letter includes a large section on the state of the credit markets, as well as portfolio updates on some of their equity holdings like Baxter (BAX), Nestle (NSRGY), Campbells Soup (CPB), and United Technologies (UTX).

Third Point's Q4 Letter: Updates on Equity Positions

On CPB: They settled their proxy fight that gave them a mix of board representation as well as regular access to the board and executives.   They helped CPB recruit Mark Clouse as new CEO.  They're looking for the company to "repair the balance sheet, execute an operational turnaround of the business, and explore all options to create long-term value for  shareholders."

On UTX:  "Despite the separation announcement, UTC’s sum-of-the-parts  discount  has  continued  to widen  and  the  valuation  gap  versus  UTC’s  closest  multi-industry   peer,   Honeywell International, has reached a new 10-year high.The coming separation will shine a greater spotlight on the large valuation gap to UTC’s pure-play peers.During the separation process, we  expect  the  management  team  to  highlight  UTC’s  asset  quality  and  to  increase transparency  around  Pratt & Whitney’s very significant multi-year  inflection  in  free  cash flow generation."

On BAX: Operating margins of 17.4% have been achieved and they think there's further upside to 23%.  Since 2016 the company has returned $4 billion to shareholders and used another $1 billion for business development.  "Over the next 12-24 months, Baxter  expects  to  start  reaping  the  fruits  of  its  labor  with  several  new  product  launches including Spectrum IQ and Evo IQ pumps, and new generic injectable drugs. The innovation cycle  should  serve  to  drive  revenue  growth  acceleration  and  contribute  positively  to underlying operating margins."

Embedded below is Third Point's Q4 letter:

For more recent investor letters, we also posted up Warren Buffett's annual letter, as well as excerpts from Baupost Group's letter and Sequoia Fund's letter too.

Graham & Doddsville New Issue: Polen Capital, Glenn Hubbard & Joseph Stiglitz, DG Capital

The winter issue of the Graham & Doddsville newsletter is out.  Columbia Business School's publication this time around interviews Glenn Hubbard and Joseph Stiglitz, as well as Damon Ficklin and Jeff Mueller of Polen Capital, and finishes up with DG Capital Management's Dov Gertzulin.

The newsletter also features student investment pitches from the 2018 Women in Investing conference: long Nordstrom (JWN) and a pitch from the 2018 CSIMA stock pitch challenge: long Lions Gate Entertainment (LGF.A).

Polen Capital talks about their positions in Alibaba (BABA), Adobe (ADBE), Align Technology (ALGN), and Starbucks (SBUX).

Embedded below is the Winter 2018 issue of Graham & Doddsville from Columbia Business School:

You can download a .pdf copy here.