HomeStock MarketInvesting Like a Billionaire: Everything Berkshire Hathaway Offers to Ordinary Investors

Investing Like a Billionaire: Everything Berkshire Hathaway Offers to Ordinary Investors

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With a $867.46 billion market cap, Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) (BRK.B), a diversified holding company, is led by Warren Edward Buffett, who is one of the world’s renowned investors with a long track record of successful capital allocation and value creation. As of May 8, 2024, he has a net worth of $133.50 billion, making him the eighth-richest person in the world.

Buffett’s substantial wealth primarily stems from his significant holdings in Berkshire Hathaway, a conglomerate with assets exceeding $1 trillion. Under Buffett’s expertise and exceptional leadership, Berkshire has historically delivered robust and consistent long-term growth, outperforming various other investment options.

From 1965, when Warren Buffett took control of the company, to 2023, Berkshire’s share price surged by a staggering 4,384,748%, surpassing the total return of the S&P 500 with dividends included of 31,223%. Additionally, Berkshire has continued its solid performance into 2024, with a double-digit percentage gain.

Berkshire’s Portfolio Reflects Buffett’s Investment Strategy

Known as the “Oracle of Omaha,” Warren Buffett stands out as one of the most accomplished investors of all time. He follows the Benjamin Graham school of value investing, seeking out securities with unreasonably low prices compared to their intrinsic worth. He often assesses the company’s long-term potential rather than short-term market trends.

Buffett considers company performance, profit margins, management team, and business model. He believes in investing in high-quality businesses with solid competitive advantages or “economic moats,” enabling them to maintain or expand their market share over time.

Sticking to his investment policy, Buffett’s holding company, Berkshire Hathaway, aims to “buy ably-managed businesses” possessing various characteristics, such as enduring competitive advantage, at extremely low prices.

For instance, the acquisition of See’s Candies in 1972 demonstrated Buffett’s strategy, as the company’s robust brand and loyal customer base made it a highly profitable long-term investment. He favors companies with strong brands and business models that own their market niche, creating formidable barriers for competitors trying to enter and beat them at their game.

Berkshire Offers Diversification Across Industries

Berkshire Hathaway’s top holding is Apple Inc. (AAPL). Thanks to its strong brand and customer loyalty, it has remained one of Buffett’s favorite stocks for a long time. He has previously referred to AAPL as the “best business I know in the world.”

BRK.B recently disclosed that it had cut its stake in Apple by around 13% in the first quarter. It was reported that Berkshire’s Apple bet was worth $135.4 billion, implying nearly 790 million shares. Despite this trim, the iPhone maker is still Berkshire’s biggest holding by far, with a 39.8% weight in its publicly traded portfolio.

Another consumer goods company that Buffett loves is The Coca-Cola Company (KO). He recognized the company’s iconic brand, attractive dividends, and market advantages. Coca-Cola’s robust brand has enabled it to mitigate the impact of inflation by transferring higher costs to customers while still being able to generate growth.

At around 6.9%, KO is the fourth-largest holding in Berkshire’s portfolio. Berkshire owns a 9.3% stake in the company.

Meanwhile, Warren Buffett holds significant investments in the energy sector. During the fourth quarter of 2023, Buffett’s Berkshire increased its stakes in two major oil and gas companies, Chevron Corporation (CVX) and Occidental Petroleum Corporation (OXY).

Berkshire Hathaway owns about a 6.7% stake in CVX. According to Berkshire’s February shareholder letter, the firm also holds a 27.8% stake in OXY and has warrants to increase its ownership further at a fixed price.

Chevron (about 5.5% of the portfolio’s total weight) and Occidental (4.5%) provide investors with exceptionally good returns amid the inflationary periods and pay attractive dividends.

In addition, Buffett is fond of financial institutions and insurance companies, viewing them as a strategic bet on the long-term health of the U.S. economy. Berkshire’s top two financial holdings are Bank of America Corporation (BAC) and American Express Company (AXP). These financial stocks comprise approximately 21% of the Berkshire portfolio’s total weight.

Outstanding First-Quarter Operating Earnings and Record Cash Hoard

For the first quarter that ended March 31, 2024, Berkshire’s total revenues increased 5.3% year-over-year to $89.87 billion. Revenues from Railroad, Utilities and Energy rose 11.2% year-over-year, and revenues from Insurance and Other grew 3.2%.

The Warren Buffett-led conglomerate reported first-quarter operating profit, which encompasses earnings from the company’s wholly-owned businesses, grew 39% from the year-ago period to $11.22 billion. This remarkable surge was led by a 185% year-over-year increase in insurance underwriting earnings to $2.60 billion. Insurance investment also soared 32% to over $2.50 billion.

However, net earnings attributable to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders declined by 64.2% year-over-year to $12.70 billion.

During the first quarter, the company’s cash pile reached a record high of $188.99 billion, up from $167.60 billion in the fourth quarter.

“We had much-improved earnings in insurance underwriting. And then our investment income was almost certain to increase,” Buffett said at Berkshire’s annual shareholder meeting in Omaha, Nebraska. “And I said that in the annual report because yields are so much higher than they were last year. And we have a lot of fixed, short-term investments that are very responsive to the changes in interest rates.”

Bottom Line

Berkshire Hathaway, led by a well-known investor, Warren Buffett, follows an intrinsic value investing approach, aiming at buying undervalued companies with solid fundamentals, competitive advantages, and long-term growth potential. Berkshire owns a diverse portfolio of businesses, including insurance, utilities, transportation, retail, and technology, among others.

Moreover, Berkshire’s top five holdings pay attractive dividends, which indicates Warren Buffett’s interest in stocks that offer a stable income stream.

Buffett’s conglomerate recently reported a significant surge in operating earnings in the first quarter of fiscal 2024, primarily driven by an increase in insurance underwriting earnings and a record cash pile that nears $200 billion.

USB analyst Brian Meredith maintained a Buy rating on Berkshire, citing the recent earnings beat and noting that Geico is on track to catch up to rivals Progressive and others on data analytics by 2025.

Berkshire Hathaway has historically delivered impressive and consistent returns. From 1965 to 2023, its share price skyrocketed 4,384,748%, more than 140 times the total return of the S&P 500, with dividends included. Moreover, Berkshire shares have already outperformed this year, with each share class having advanced more than 12%, while the S&P is up by nearly 8%.

Shares of BRK.B have gained approximately 16% over the past six months and more than 22% over the past year.

Looking ahead, analysts expect BRK.B’s EPS for the fiscal year (ending December 2024) to increase 14.6% year-over-year to $19.70. Further, the company’s EPS and revenue for the fiscal year 2025 are expected to grow 1.4% and 5.6% from the prior year to $19.97 and $376.61 billion, respectively.

Thus, by owning BRK.B shares, investors can gain exposure to Berkshire’s diversified portfolio of businesses, Buffett’s expertise, and stable growth and performance.

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