Lubrizol Aims to Make Footwear 100% Recyclable

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According to the U.S. Department of the Interior, Americans alone throw away at least 300 million pairs of shoes each year. These shoes end up in landfills, where they can take 30 to 40 years to decompose. This figure has inspired Lubrizol Engineered Polymers to engineer an innovative portfolio of advanced polymers to provide footwear producers the opportunity to create a nearly 100% TPU shoe that is recyclable* without compromising performance.

Justin Park, Lubrizol’s global market segment manager for performance footwear says, “The advantage of a 100% TPU shoe is that at the end of the shoe’s wear cycle it can be re-grinded and then reformed into a new shoe, therefore extending the life of the product and material.”

Lubrizol Engineered Polymers advanced TPU portfolio for footwear applications gives footwear producers the opportunity to collaborate with one solution provider for their needs. Another benefit to footwear producers of using Lubrizol Engineered Polymers TPU as the prime material for shoe production is having the ability to reuse the scraps, resulting in less unused material during the manufacturing process.

The key technologies in Lubrizol’s Engineered Polymers TPU portfolio for performance footwear that can be engineered to form almost every component of a shoe include Esdex(TM) TPU for upper yarns to keep shoe construction smart and lightweight, BounCell-X(TM) a low density, plasticizer-free, recyclable*, thermoplastic foam for cushioning, Estane(R) TRX TPU as a functional alternative to rubber outsoles, Pearlthane(TM) ECO TPU a bio-based** renewable-sourced material, Estane(R) 3D TPU a soft, flexible material that offers design freedom for 3D printed components, and Pearlbond(TM) TPU for adhesives assembly that provides flexibility to join a large variety of substrates together.

Lubrizol Engineered Polymers has released a video to help support and promote its extensive TPU footwear portfolio for performance footwear applications, One Shoe.

© 2019 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

BNSF Sees 2% Rise in Q1 Operating Income

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Despite difficult weather conditions, BNSF Railway saw a 2 percent rise in operating income in the first quarter of 2019.

First quarter 2019 operating income was $1.8 billion, an increase of $32 million (2%), compared to the same period in 2018. Total revenues for the first quarter of 2019 were up 2%, compared with the same period in 2018 primarily due to an 8% increase in average revenue per car/unit, as a result of increased rates per car/unit, a favorable outcome of an arbitration hearing, and higher fuel surcharges.

This increase was partially offset by a 5% decrease in unit volume due to severe winter weather and flooding on parts of the network, as well as the following individual business unit drivers:

• Consumer Products volumes decreased 6% for the first quarter of 2019 compared with the same period in 2018 primarily due to lower intermodal volumes, which were driven by lower international intermodal market share, increased truck competition, and the aforementioned challenging weather conditions.

• Industrial Products volumes increased 1% for the first quarter of 2019 compared with the same period in 2018 primarily due to strength in the energy and industrial sectors, which drove higher demand for petroleum products, liquefied petroleum gas, and aggregates. This increase was partially offset by lower sand and taconite volumes as well as the aforementioned challenging weather conditions.

• Agricultural Products volumes decreased 7% for the first quarter of 2019 compared with the same period in 2018 primarily due to the aforementioned challenging weather conditions, partially offset by higher soybean exports.

• Coal volumes decreased 10% for the first quarter of 2019 compared with the same period in 2018 primarily due to the aforementioned challenging weather conditions, partially offset by higher market share.

© 2019 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

NetJets May Lose Ohio Tax Breaks

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Berkshire Hathaway’s NetJets will lose tax breaks for fractionally owned aircraft if a provision in the Ohio’s state budget proposal becomes law.

The tax breaks also benefits its Cleveland-based competitor, Flexjets.

The repeal proposal, which was included in the latest House budget package, removes the cap on sales taxes of fractionally owned aircraft that was enacted in 2003 that is currently set at $800.

Also repealed would be a tax exemption for sales of property and services to maintain and repair fractionally owned aircraft.

According to the State Department of Taxation’s Tax Expenditure Report, the repeal of the $800 sales tax cap would bring in an additional $14 million a year.

© 2019 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Vestas secures 459 MW order from Berkshire’s PacifiCorp

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Vestas has received an order for 459 MW of V136-4.2 MW turbines operating in 4.3 MW power optimised mode from PacifiCorp, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Energy, for two wind projects, TB Flats I and II, located in Wyoming. Including previously purchased V110-2.0 MW turbines, the projects will have a combined capacity of 503 MW.

TB Flats I and II are part of PacifiCorp’s Energy Vision 2020 initiative, a USD 3.1 billion investment to expand wind power via repowering existing projects, adding 1,150 MW of new wind resources by the end of 2020, and building a 140-mile transmission line segment in Wyoming to enable wind generation.

As part of Energy Vision 2020, Vestas and PacifiCorp previously partnered on repowering the Marengo and Marengo II wind projects in Washington, upgrading the site’s existing V80-1.8 MW turbines with V100-2.0 MW turbines.

“We’re pleased PacifiCorp has selected our V136-4.2 MW, operating in 4.3 MW power optimised mode for the TB Flats I and II projects,” said Chris Brown, President of Vestas’ sales and service division in the United States and Canada. “With their Energy Vision 2020 initiative and commitment to expanding wind energy, PacifiCorp brings both the environmental and economic benefits of low-cost, competitive, and clean wind energy to their customers and communities.”

The order includes supply and commissioning of the turbines as well as a 12-year AOM 4000 service agreement, designed to ensure optimized performance of the project. Turbine delivery will begin in the second quarter of 2020, with commissioning scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2020.

© 2019 David Mazor


Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Mouser Electronics Expands Local Customer Service Support in Brazil

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Berkshire Hathaway’s Mouser Electronics, Inc., the industry’s leading New Product Introduction (NPI) distributor with the widest selection of semiconductors and electronic components, is expanding its Customer Service Center operations to Brazil.

The new customer service team — Mouser’s first in South America — will support electronic design engineers, buyers and hardware innovators across Brazil, helping them to locate the newest products for their designs.

“This is a very exciting expansion of our services. We see offering a local customer support presence here as an important contribution to innovation, design and manufacturing in a thriving region,” said Mark Burr-Lonnon, Mouser’s Senior Vice President of Global Service & EMEA and APAC Business. “We look forward to the opportunity to serve our customers in Brazil with best-in-class local service and fast delivery of the newest products and leading technologies from more than 750 manufacturers.”

Mouser’s new customer service operations in Florianópolis, Brazil, will have a full-service staff of team members, conversant in Portuguese and English, onsite to personally assist with orders, answer technical questions and respond to customer calls from across country.

Unlike many distributors, Mouser takes a centralized approach with a single distribution center that streamlines operations, helping customers get their vast selection of the newest products and overall inventory first and faster. After experiencing several years of record business growth, Mouser is breaking ground on another major expansion at its global headquarters and distribution center in Texas. Once complete, Mouser’s campus at its global headquarters will encompass more than one million square feet of office and warehouse space, stocking over one million different electronic components for quick delivery worldwide.

With its broad product line and unsurpassed customer service, Mouser strives to empower innovation among design engineers and buyers by delivering advanced technologies. Mouser stocks the world’s widest selection of the latest semiconductors and electronic components for the newest design projects. Mouser Electronics’ website is continually updated and offers advanced search methods to help customers quickly locate inventory. Mouser.com also houses data sheets, supplier-specific reference designs, application notes, technical design information, and engineering tools.

© 2019 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Berkshire Hathaway Acquires Transco Railway Products

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Berkshire Hathaway’s Marmon Holdings, Inc. has announced the acquisition of Transco Railway Products Inc., a railcar repair business with operations across the northern U.S., from Transco Inc. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Chicago-based Transco Railway Products provides railroad tank car and freight car repair and maintenance, auto-rack certification, and hopper car cleaning at seven repair shops located in the Great Lakes region, Iowa, and Montana. The company also provides components to the freight car industry from a fabrication site in Ohio. The business was founded in 1936 as a provider of replacement parts for railcars.

The acquired company will continue to operate as Transco Railway Products within Marmon’s Rail & Leasing sector, whose companies provide railroad tank car manufacturing, leasing, and repair services; intermodal tank containers; in-plant rail switching and loading/unloading services; track installation and maintenance services; and steel tank heads and cylinders for markets including energy, chemical, petrochemical, agricultural, and transportation.

Marmon’s Railcar Repair Services group offers the largest railroad tank car repair and maintenance network in North America.

“We are excited to acquire a company with such a solid reputation in the railcar repair arena,” said Bill Merrill, President of Marmon Railcar Repair Services. “Our goal is to leverage Marmon’s resources to help Transco Railway Products expand its business in both freight and tank car repair.”

Bob Nelson, current President of Transco Railway Products, will continue to lead the business. “We have significantly invested in our repair network over the past several years, allowing us to grow,” Nelson said. “With Marmon’s backing, we look forward to further growth to better serve our existing and new customers.”

Marmon Rail & Leasing is part of Marmon Holdings, a global industrial organization comprising 10 diverse business sectors and more than 100 autonomous manufacturing and service businesses with revenues of more than $8.1 billion in 2018.

© 2019 David Mazor


Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Mouser Electronics Opens Customer Service Center in Poland

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Mouser Electronics, Inc., the New Product Introduction (NPI) leader empowering innovation, has announced the opening of a new European Customer Service Center.

Situated within the historic city of Wrocław in western Poland, the new center will support increasing design activity driven by Poland’s ever-growing number of engineering experts as well as its established industries.

Mark Burr-Lonnon, Mouser’s Senior Vice President of Global Service & EMEA and APAC Business, noted, “In 2018, Mouser’s business in Poland grew significantly. Poland is a major manufacturing area with a large amount of activity, especially in the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and electronics manufacturing service (EMS) sectors. We are looking forward to growing our business and supporting our customers with a local office and staff.”

In 2018, Mouser saw its European business surge by almost 50 percent with an 18 percent increase in customers. To meet this growing demand, the company’s new Customer Service Center in Poland will have a full-service staff of team members onsite to personally assist with orders, answer technical questions and respond to customer calls, all in local language, time zone, and currency.

The Poland center is Mouser’s 10th office in Europe and 24th globally.

As the global authorized distributor with the newest semiconductors and electronic components, Mouser gives design engineers, buyers and innovators easy access to the newest electronic components and comprehensive design resources. The Services and Tools site available on mouser.com makes it simple for customers to search for products, personalize their orders and access their previous purchases, helping to speed time-to-market.

© 2019 David Mazor


Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

BNSF Recovers from Midwest Flooding, but Rising Waters Still Limits Some Routes

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While much of BNSF Railway’s traffic has been restored to normal after this spring’s record flooding, BNSF continues to have flooding issues in some areas.

According to the company, BNSF teams have been responding to flood-related track outages in Oklahoma and Kansas following heavy rainfall from a mid-week storm. Several inches of rain in a 24-hour period caused track washouts, or high water locations, on multiple BNSF subdivisions.

The Walnut River at Winfield, Kan., where our Douglass and Arkansas City subdivisions intersect in southeastern Kansas, rose by nearly 30 feet in less than 36 hours and peaked at eight feet above flood stage Wednesday evening.

Portions of both subdivisions, which serve as key route links for traffic moving between the Midwest and Texas, are out of service. The La Junta Subdivision, which runs between southeastern Colorado and eastern Kansas, is also out of service at Halstead, Kan., just west of Newton, due to flood gate closures. BNSF is re-routing some traffic to minimize these disruptions as much as possible.

In the Midwest, service was restored this week on a portion of the Hannibal Subdivision running between Burlington and Fort Madison, Iowa. Approximately 120 miles of the Hannibal Subdivision north of St. Louis remains out of service due to current Mississippi River water levels and flood gate closures. Nearly 100 miles of the River Subdivision, running adjacent to the Mississippi River south of St. Louis, also remains out of service.

As the river recedes, BNSF currently estimates 90 miles of the Hannibal Subdivision to reopen next week, with the remaining 30 miles between Keokuk, IA and La Grange, Mo. reopening the following week. Any significant rainfall or storm events, however, may affect service restoration estimates.

In Nebraska, restoration work on the Napier Subdivision between Pacific Junction, IA and Napier, Mo. continues to progress on schedule. Another 20-mile zone is expected to reopen next week and the full subdivision by the end of the month.

The average number of trains holding increased significantly versus the previous week due to the additional flooding-related outages as well as track work taking place on our Galveston Subdivision, which has caused delays to traffic moving through central Texas. BNSF crews have been conducting ballast replenishment and surfacing work on our main line in two locations southeast of Temple. We expect to generate improved velocity and train flows through this area during the next few days once restoration work is completed.

They also note that excessive rainfall is likely through the weekend across southeastern Texas, including in the Houston complex, Louisiana and other areas of the lower Mississippi River Valley. Much of this region could receive more than one month’s worth of rainfall by the end of the weekend. BNSF operations teams are monitoring water levels in flood-prone areas and are ready to quickly respond to any service disruptions.

© 2019 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

China Key to Dairy Queen’s Dramatic Growth

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That most iconic of American brands, Dairy Queen, is growing fast far from American shores.

Of Dairy Queen’s 394 new locations, 331 are international, and China is the number one market for growth with 194 new outlets.

The growth in China isn’t new, as the frozen treat purveyor added 150 locations in China in 2017.

“This year we will open our 1,000th location,” President and CEO Troy Bader explains. “And we opened our 500th location in China and 100th in the Philippines.”

While frozen treats remain the primary attraction, the tea and smoothie lines are a big hit in China. DQ has worked hard at tailoring products to local tastes. While the All-American hot dog is a hit, it’s been flavored and spiced for the Chinese palate. The same has been down in the beverage category, with Okinawa Black Sugar especially popular.

Fruit flavors such as apricot, peach and durian are also popular.

Tea is also used in its frozen desserts, with Ceylon black tea blended in with ice cream as one of its Blizzard menu items.

Much like in the U.S., DQ in China is doing well with food, frozen treats, beverages and cakes. However, they feature additional snack items, such as chicken wings and bone-in drumsticks. They also have a popular spiced gravy that goes on French fries.

Bader believes there’s lots of potential for growth in China, and the numbers clearly back that up.

© 2019 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Clayton Homes Acquires Ninth Site Builder

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Berkshire Hathaway’s Clayton Homes, the leading builder of manufactured homes, is quickly becoming a big player in the site built home business. Clayton has acquired Highland Homes, a Florida home builder that is the ninth home builder acquired by Clayton in just three years.

In its 23rd year, Highland, which is based in Lakeland, Florida, is headed by the father and son team, Bob and Joel Adams. Both will be staying on to run the company under Clayton.

The builder will join Clayton Properties Group, a division of Clayton Home Building Group that is based in Maryville, Tennessee.

Highland’s focus is on the low and midprice market, which fits with Clayton’s market approach for its site built homes.

“We are thrilled to join Clayton Properties Group’s family of builders,” said Joel Adams, Highland Homes’ executive vice president, in the statement. “The partnership with Clayton opens up tremendous opportunity for our team members to continue our focus on building high-quality, affordable homes in Central Florida with a strong emphasis on customer experience and market growth.”

Ranked 75th on the 2018 Builder Magazine’s Builder 100 list, Highland built 800 homes in 2018, and is aiming to construct 980 in 2019.

© 2019 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.