Santiago Adds 150 BYD Electric Buses to Chile’s Public Transport System

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BYD has announced that Latin America’s largest fleet of zero-emission buses just got bigger, as Santiago’s RED system added 150 of their buses to Chile’s public transport system.

With a total of 455 buses in operation, BYD firmly leads Chile’s electric bus market.

The buses will run along Avenida Bernardo O’Higgins, the historic central avenue in the Chilean capital and will be operated by Metbus.

“This new fleet of 150 BYD electric buses will bring citizens more quality trips while improving Santiago’s air quality,” said Tamara Berríos, Country Manager, BYD Chile.

Santiago’s electric bus fleet will reach almost 800 units by the end of this year. Chile wants to completely electrify publicnsportation by the 2040.

BYD and Berkshire Hathaway

In 2008, Berkshire Hathaway bet on BYD’s potential, purchasing 225 million shares. It’s an investment that has paid off handsomely. Berkshire’s original investment of $230 million has grown in value almost ten-fold.

For More on BYD, read the Special Report: BYD, Berkshire’s Tesla.

© 2020 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway and BYD, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell a 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.

Special Report: BNSF and Wabtec Testing Lithium-Ion Locomotive

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Wabtec and BNSF Railway Company are testing a lithium-ion battery-powered locomotive, which will be paired with diesel locomotives in a “consist” (railroad jargon for a sequence of connected locomotives) to eventually power a freight train along a stretch of rail in California’s Central Valley between Stockton and Barstow.

Wabtec has begun testing a prototype 4,400 lithium-ion battery-powered locomotive at its Erie, Pennsylvania, plant.

If successful, the fuel savings could have a big impact on BNSF and other railroads. And the environmental benefits could also help BNSF advance one of its major capacity-building projects. Adding even one battery-powered locomotive to the train could reduce the consist’s total fuel consumption by up to 15 percent.

BNSF and Wabtec (formerly GE Transportation) began the pilot program in 2018.

Currently, Wabtec builds new diesel locomotives up to 5,400 horsepower. In addition to locomotives, Wabtec also produces freight cars, passenger transit vehicles and power generation equipment, for both original equipment and aftermarket applications.

BNSF previously looked at liquefied natural gas as a possible alternative to diesel fuel, but ended the project, and has since moved on to battery power.

The leap to battery power is not as big of one as it may at first seem. Diesel-electric locomotives like the machines Wabtec builds are already essentially power plants on wheels. They use a powerful diesel engine to generate the electricity that drives the electric motors that spin the wheels.

Wabtec believes that a battery-powered locomotive is the perfect complement to its diesel-electric brethren. The battery will hold 2,400 kilowatt-hours of energy, meaning it’s able to maintain full horsepower for roughly 30 minutes on a given charge. Then the operator can decide how to use that power.

For example, the operator could slash emissions from the diesel-powered locomotives by drawing heavily on the battery to start up the train. This would be especially desirable if the train were pulling out of a city rail yard, close to populated areas.

Using the battery power also cuts down on noise. The train operator may also choose to “graze” on battery power — or even recharge the battery — when the train is cruising through open landscape, saving hundreds of gallons of diesel.

Each battery locomotive also has a brain, in the form of an onboard supervisory control system. The rail operator can input data about the train’s journey into the system — such as how much weight it’s hauling, the types of locomotives in the consist, and its route — to allow the computer to make decisions about the best way to use the battery before the train even pulls away.

Imagine a battery-enhanced train making a 500-mile trip across sparsely populated terrain — meaning fuel economy is the name of the game. Software will calculate the optimum ratio of battery power to diesel usage for such a journey and decide on the most favorable balance for the hybrid locomotive consist. The software can then pinpoint the exact moments to draw on the battery, thus sparing diesel.

The new locomotive will use a battery cell similar to what you might find under the hood of an electric car. It is a lithium-ion energy storage unit with cells that contain a combination of nickel, manganese and cobalt only far larger.

A standard electric-car battery usually holds a few hundred storage cells — each around the size of a mini tablet computer. But the prototype of the new locomotive will have a battery with approximately 20,000 cells, and future versions may have as many as 50,000 cells. The cells also must be able to weather the heavy-going environment of a locomotive, with all its jolts and shocks.

To build the demonstration model, workers stripped out the engine and cooling systems from a diesel locomotive to make way for the battery under the hood. But from the outside, the battery-powered locomotive doesn’t look much different from its diesel counterparts.

The impact on BNSF could be huge, not only in fuel cost-savings, but if it could use battery-powered locomotives in urban areas, such as the Port of Long Beach, it might be able to overcome the opposition to its long-stalled Southern California International Gateway plan, which has been held up due to environmental concerns tied to diesel emissions.

“We’re developing and testing the ‘next-generation’ locomotive now to build our advantage over long-haul trucks, remain competitive and reduce our operating costs,” BNSF’s Vice-President, Environmental, John Lovenburg, says.

© 2020 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 a 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’s Mouser Electronics Named MEAN WELL Distributor of the Year

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Berkshire Hathaway’s Mouser Electronics, Inc., the authorized global distributor with the newest semiconductors and electronic components, proudly announces that it has been named 2019 North American Distributor of the Year by MEAN WELL, a leading power supply manufacturer. Mouser received the prestigious award for earning top scores in categories such as sales performance, models promotion, marketing and technical and customer support.

“We are delighted to win this prestigious award from MEAN WELL,” said Tom Busher, Vice President of Supplier Management at Mouser Electronics. “Our partnership with MEAN WELL continues to grow, and we look forward to greater collaboration in bringing more MEAN WELL products to our global customer base.”

“We are very pleased to present Mouser with the 2019 North American Distributor of the Year award,” stated Leo Cheong, General Manager, MEAN WELL USA. “Mouser has certainly earned this recognition, and we’re very grateful to have them as a close distribution partner.”

Mouser offers a wide selection of MEAN WELL’s power portfolio for a variety of solutions, including the NMP family of configurable intelligent medical power supplies, HVGC-1000 series of LED drivers for horticulture lighting, and RSDW40/60 and RDDW40/60 DC-DC converters for railway applications.

© 2020 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 a 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.

Commentary: Buffett Casts His Vote with Dominion Energy Assets Acquisition

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With Berkshire Hathaway’s $9.7 billion agreement to acquire Dominion Energy’s natural gas transmission and storage business, Warren Buffett has engaged in a strategy that is familiar to Buffet watchers—the choice between owning a part of a company through equities, or the acquisition of whole companies. It’s a choice that Buffett that has made for almost six decades based on which valuation he judges to be cheaper.

At this year’s annual meeting, Buffett revealed that he had bought relatively few stocks at a time when the market’s plunge had many seeing a rare buying opportunity. Buffett thought differently, and his sale of Berkshire’s entire commercial airline portfolio due to what he felt would be long term profitability issues for United, Delta, American, and Southwest, reflected that perspective.

Now, Buffett has found something he likes. It is an acquisition that makes Berkshire Hathaway a giant in natural gas distribution, vaulting it from carrying 8% of the nation’s natural gas to 18%.

The acquisition adds to one of Berkshire’s core businesses, Berkshire Hathaway Energy, which will acquire 100% of Dominion Energy Transmission, Questar Pipeline and Carolina Gas Transmission; and 50% of Iroquois Gas Transmission System. Additionally, Berkshire will acquire 25% of Cove Point LNG – an LNG export, import and storage facility in Maryland.

The acquisition includes over 7,700 miles of natural gas transmission lines, with approximately 20.8 billion cubic feet per day of transportation capacity and 900 billion cubic feet of operated natural gas storage with 364 billion cubic feet of company-owned working storage capacity, and partial ownership of a liquefied natural gas export, import and storage facility.

Demand for natural gas has risen from 4,917,152 million cubic feet in 1949 to 31,014,345 million cubic feet in 2019, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. And with the retirement of more and more coal-fired generating plants, natural gas is a key replacement. Even with the enormous growth of wind and solar, new gas-fired plants are being constructed as backup generation for when the winds are calm and the skies are cloudy.

By making this acquisition, Buffett adds key assets to Berkshire Hathaway Energy that will guarantee a pay-off not just in the short term, but for decades to come. And that’s exactly what Buffet likes, putting money to work for decades to come.

This is not to say that Buffett won’t return to buying equities, but for now, he has voted with his dollars that the better deal in the near term is the acquisition of a whole company.

© 2020 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 a 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.

Warren Buffett Nabs Natural Gas Assets from Dominion Energy

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Warren Buffett has finally used his famed “elephant gun” on a key addition to Berkshire Hathaway Energy.

Berkshire Hathaway Energy has executed a definitive agreement to acquire Dominion Energy’s natural gas transmission and storage business.

The assets include over 7,700 miles of natural gas transmission lines, with approximately 20.8 billion cubic feet per day of transportation capacity and 900 billion cubic feet of operated natural gas storage with 364 billion cubic feet of company-owned working storage capacity, and partial ownership of a liquefied natural gas export, import and storage facility.

The transaction has an enterprise value of approximately $9.7 billion.

“I admire Tom Farrell for his exceptional leadership across the energy industry as well as within Dominion Energy,” said Warren Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway. “We are very proud to be adding such a great portfolio of natural gas assets to our already strong energy business.”

As part of the transaction, Berkshire Hathaway Energy will acquire 100% of Dominion Energy Transmission, Questar Pipeline and Carolina Gas Transmission; and 50% of Iroquois Gas Transmission System.

The agreement does not include acquisition of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

Additionally, the company will acquire 25% of Cove Point LNG – an LNG export, import and storage facility in Maryland. Dominion Energy will continue to own 50% of Cove Point, with Brookfield Asset Management continuing to own the remaining 25% share. Berkshire Hathaway Energy will operate the Cove Point facility once the transaction closes.

The Cove Point export terminal is one of only six LNG export facilities in the U.S.

“This premier natural gas transmission and storage business has been operated and managed in a best-in-class manner,” said Bill Fehrman, Berkshire Hathaway Energy’s president and CEO. “Acquiring this portfolio of natural gas assets considerably expands our company’s footprint in several Eastern and Western states as well as globally, increasing the market reach and diversity of Berkshire Hathaway Energy.”

“We are honored to be gaining a wonderful group of employees with a wealth of experience that will continue to provide high-quality service for our customers and partners. We look forward to welcoming them to the team,” said Greg Abel, Berkshire Hathaway’s vice chairman, non-insurance operations, and Berkshire Hathaway Energy chairman.

“We are fortunate Dominion Energy has entrusted us to preserve and build upon such a remarkable business that will allow Berkshire Hathaway Energy to add $9.7 billion in asset value to the portfolio that currently exceeds $100 billion.”

© 2020 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.

GenStar and Lockton Affinity Launch Architects and Engineers Liability Program

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Berkshire Hathaway’s GenStar, a wholly owned subsidiary of General Reinsurance Corporation, has launched its Architects and Engineers program with Lockton Affinity.

GenStar President and CEO Marty Hacala commented, “GenStar is pleased to associate with Lockton Affinity. They are insurance specialists with a proven history of understanding the risks of architects and engineers.”

The GenStar and Lockton Affinity Architects and Engineers Professional Liability program protects architecture, civil engineering, construction management, design build, electrical engineering, HVAC engineering, interior design, landscape architecture, mechanical engineering and surveying professionals. Liability limits up to $2,000,000 will be available on a claims-made basis. Professionals will receive complimentary risk management and contract review assistance, as well as disabled partner replacement.

“Industry professionals will receive comprehensive coverage. Architects and engineers can request a price indication for this new, customized offering, typically in several minutes or fewer,” said Jeff Severino, Producer at Lockton Affinity.

The program is available in the following ten states: AZ, IL, KY, MI, MN, NM, NV, SC, TX, and WY.

The GenStar and Lockton Affinity Architect and Engineer Professional Liability program will be written on an admitted basis by GenStar’s General Star National Insurance Company (GSN), which is rated A++ (Superior) by A.M. Best Rating Services, Inc. and carries an AA+ Insurance Financial Strength Rating from S&P’s Global Ratings.

© 2020 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.

Molex Recognizes Mouser as 2019 eCatalog Distributor of the Year

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Berkshire Hathaway’s Mouser Electronics, Inc. has been honored by Molex as its 2019 eCatalog Distributor of the Year in all regions.

Molex, a leading global manufacturer of electronic solutions, announced today that the company has presented Mouser with the four distinct awards of recognition as the 2019 eCatalog Distributor of the Year in all regions which represent Global, the Americas, Europe and Asia.

These individual awards recognize Mouser as a valued collaborator demonstrating sales and financial growth coupled with operational and management excellence in advancing Molex innovations on a global scale.

The candidates for the Molex eCatalog Distributor of the Year Award are evaluated in each individual region on multiple performance criteria. In 2019, Mouser excelled in all regions on the critical areas of customer acquisition over the competition and best-in-class for average order growth across all regions for a clean sweep win.

“We extend our congratulations to the Mouser team for their overall contributions to global sales growth and customer promotional activities,” said Fred Bell, vice president, global distribution, Molex. “Mouser has demonstrated a superior commitment to supporting Molex products worldwide with result-driven efforts. We thank them for their continued drive and collaboration in promoting the quality solutions that Molex brings to our customers.”

“Mouser is honored to be a recipient of these awards and we value our relationship with Molex,” said Jeff Newell, senior vice president, products, Mouser Electronics. “We look forward to our continued collaboration and mutual success in offering a broad portfolio of innovative Molex products through the efforts of our regional teams.”

© 2020 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 Awarded High Service Distributor of the Year by KEMET

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Berkshire Hathaway’s Mouser Electronics, Inc. has been honored with the High Service Distributor of the Year award for fiscal year 2020 from KEMET, a subsidiary of Yageo Corporation.

This is the fifth year for Mouser to receive this top award.

Mouser was measured against its competition in a variety of areas, including POA and POS growth, new product introductions, customer count growth, marketing capabilities, and overall process excellence. Mouser previously won the High Service Distributor of the Year award 2012–2014 and in 2016. Last year, KEMET honored Mouser with the Best High Service Distribution award for the Asia Pacific region, as well as the Digital Marketing Partner of the Year for the third consecutive year.

“Mouser is honored to receive this important recognition from valued supplier partner KEMET,” said Tom Busher, Vice President of Supplier Management at Mouser Electronics. “We greatly value our business partnership with KEMET and look forward to continuing to provide the newest, most innovative products from KEMET to design engineers and purchasing professionals around the world.”

“KEMET congratulates Mouser on its exemplary performance this year,” stated Johnny Boan, KEMET Vice President, Global Distribution. “The KEMET High Service Distributor of the Year award is presented to our best-performing channel partner. We are very excited to once again present the Mouser team with this top award and look forward to future prosperity.”

Founded in 1919, KEMET Corporation is a global supplier of electronic components with over 1,300 active patents and worldwide manufacturing plants that are leading the advancement of materials science and cutting-edge electrical solutions.

As an authorized distributor, Mouser Electronics is focused on the rapid introduction of new products and technologies, giving customers an edge and helping speed time to market. Over 800 semiconductor and electronic component manufacturers count on Mouser to help them introduce their products into the global marketplace. Mouser’s customers can expect 100% certified, genuine products that are fully traceable from each manufacturer.

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.

© 2020 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.

Precision Castparts Lays Off a Quarter of Its Oregon Workforce

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Berkshire Hathaway’s aerospace manufacturer Precision Castparts has turned its previously announced furloughs in Oregon into layoffs, and added additional layoffs at its Clackamas small structures business operations facility.

The company cites the COVID-19 pandemic for the layoffs. The total number of layoffs in Oregon is 717, which represents roughly 24 percent of its workforce in the state.

“As the impact of the pandemic and other macroeconomic factors have weighed on the nation, many of our customers have or intend to curtail or reduce their production,” communications director David Dugan wrote in an email published in the Oregonian. “Due to the resulting impact on orders, we have significantly reduced our workforce to align our production with our customers’ needs.”

Precision Castparts is a worldwide manufacturer of complex metal components and products, provides high-quality investment castings, forgings, fasteners/fastener systems and aerostructures for critical aerospace and power generation applications.

© 2020 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 Adds Direct Intermodal Service Between the Pacific Northwest and The Ohio Valley Region

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With the growth of its direct-rail intermodal service connecting California with the Ohio Valley region, BNSF Railway has launched a new service option between the Pacific Northwest and Northwest Ohio. This new container-only service will initially be offered five days a week for both eastbound and westbound freight originating and terminating at our South Seattle Intermodal Facility.

Customers who originate shipments at BNSF’s South Seattle Intermodal Facility can now access some of the fastest growing industrial and consumer markets in and around northwest Ohio including Toledo, Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Detroit, Louisville and Pittsburgh.

The new service offering supports greater supply chain efficiency and is made possible as a result of BNSF’s continued focus on providing access to key markets and enhanced service capabilities for our customers.

© 2020 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 adv