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Saturday, 23 February 2019

Warren Buffett’s annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway’s (BRK-A, BRK-B) shareholders

Read? Warren Buffett’s annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway’s (BRK-A, BRK-B) shareholders is out, and it’s different this time

CW8888: Walau! Buffet Warren now also looks at market pricing. Mr Market is always right! LOL! 

Where is the intrinsic value and value investing? LOL!

 No counting in percentage!

Long-time readers of our annual reports will have spotted the different way in which I opened this letter. For nearly three decades, the initial paragraph featured the percentage change in Berkshire’s per-share book value. It’s now time to abandon that practice.

The fact is that the annual change in Berkshire’s book value – which makes its farewell appearance on page 2 – is a metric that has lost the relevance it once had. Three circumstances have made that so. First, Berkshire has gradually morphed from a company whose assets are concentrated in marketable stocks into one whose major value resides in operating businesses. Charlie and I expect that reshaping to continue in an irregular manner. 

Second, while our equity holdings are valued at market prices, accounting rules require our collection of operating companies to be included in book value at an amount far below their current value, a mismark that has grown in recent years. 

Third, 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.

In future tabulations of our financial results, we expect to focus on Berkshire’s market price. Markets can be extremely capricious: Just look at the 54-year history laid out on page 2. Over time, however, Berkshire’s stock price will provide the best measure of business performance.


  1. So how to weigh Book Value to Market Value and the headache of knowing actual Intrinsic Value?

    Blur like sotong liu?

  2. "I was wrong in a couple of ways about Kraft Heinz," Buffett tells CNBC. "We overpaid for Kraft."

    "It's still a wonderful business in that it uses about $7 billion of tangible assets and earns $6 billion pretax on that," Buffett tells CNBC. "But we, and certain predecessors, we paid $100 billion in tangible assets. So for us, it has to earn $107 billion, not just the $7 billion that the business employs."

    But Buffett says he has no intention of selling his stake in the company.

  3. WB can pay too much because it is a very good business.

    So U paid too much too because it is also a very good business?

    U bet we all did.

  4. Good March 2015 article talking about Buffett's purchase of Heinz and later Kraft. Apparently he had tended to pay higher prices for "elephant" acquisitions in the years after GFC.

    In 2013 Buffett paid 20 PE for Heinz, but was sweetened to 9 PE by negotiating extra special preference shares.

    However for Kraft in 2015, he paid 25 PE.

    No wonder Buffett has been so tightfisted in doing any more expensive "elephant" deals, and prefers to stock up warchest!


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