BNSF to Build $2.3 million facility in Minnesota

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BNSF Railway has announced that it will build a $2.3 million facility in Dilworth, Minnesota. The new facility will replace its existing facility.

The new facility will enable the company to hold meetings and on-site training, as it will be significantly larger than its current location.

Construction will begin this spring with completion planned by the fall of 2017.

© 2017 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.

Rupa to Bring Fruit of the Loom Brand to India

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The Fruit if the Loom brand is coming to India in a deal that will bring extensive royalties to Berkshire Hathaway and little risk.

Rupa and Company, the number one knitwear maker in India, has struck a deal with Berkshire’s Fruit of the Loom to license the brand for India.

Rupa, which has the capacity to make over 700,000 pieces of knitwear a day, will pay a fixed royalty for the right to manufacture Fruit of the Loom branded products.

Siddhant Agarwal, VP-Business Development & Acquisitions at Rupa and Company, told CNBC-TV18 that the company plans to debut the Fruit of the Loom brand in September or October 2017.

Rupa has received broad recognition for its success in the knitwear industry, including receiving the Best Corporate Brand Award by The Economic Times at ‘The Economic Times Best Corporate Brands Summit 2015’ held in Mumbai.

The company’s shares are listed at NSE and BSE.

© 2017 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.

Lubrizol Buys Government’s 24% stake in India Joint Venture

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The state-run Indian Oil Corp has agreed to sell a 24 percent stake in a joint venture to the US-based partner Lubrizol Corporation.

The transaction will enable Lubrizol to take over the government’s stake in Lubrizol India Pvt Ltd, according to a government statement. When completed, Lubrizol’s ownership in the company will reach 74%.

The move comes as the Indian government plans to divest its interest in public companies.

“The sale will enable IOC to have long term association with its joint venture partner and … Lubrizol India Pvt Ltd (LIPL) to have access to the latest global additive technologies developed by Lubrizol Corporation, USA,” the statement said.

© 2017 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 Specialty Insurance Launches Professional First Professional Liability and Network Security & Privacy Policy in Canada

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It was just last year that Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance (BHSI) marked its initial entry into Professional Lines in Canada with the launch of Professional First Miscellaneous Professional Liability Insurance, geared for large commercial entities, from consultants to property managers.

Now, BHSI has introduced its Professional First Professional Liability and Network Security & Privacy Policy and announced that it has appointed Geoffrey Kendrick as Head of Professional Lines in Canada.

“We are pleased to round out our Executive & Professional Lines products with comprehensive professional liability coverage for large, complex technology-related risks,” said Michael Densham, Head of Executive & Professional Lines, BHSI, Canada. “We are also excited to have Geoff leading our efforts in the Professional Lines marketplace. His extensive experience will serve BHSI and our customers well.”

BHSI’s new Professional First Professional Liability and Network Security & Privacy Policy is designed to address the needs of a wide range of enterprises, from systems integrators, to telecommunications providers, to IT staffing firms. The policy provides coverage for numerous exposures, encompassing: (i) third party exposures resulting from security and privacy breaches, including regulatory investigations, fines and penalties; (ii) a wide range of direct expenses an insured incurs in responding to a breach or extortion threat; (iii) media liability exposures; and (iv) lost income and related expenses resulting from interruption of the insured’s business due to a network security failure. The new form was purposefully drafted with clear, concise language, and builds in as standard many coverages traditionally available only by endorsement.

Geoffrey Kendrick joins BHSI after 11 years at Zurich Financial Services, Global Corporate. At Zurich, he held various underwriting roles of increasing responsibility focusing on professional indemnity and product safety & recall business in offices around the globe. Developing international insurance solutions for large, multinational risks, while addressing the complex and ever changing business, legal and compliance environment is his specialty. Geoffrey holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from The University of Western Ontario, King’s College.

He is based in BHSI’s office in Toronto.

© 2017 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.

GEICO Reaches 15-Million Policyholder Milestone

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Fifteen million is a lot of anything, and for insurer GEICO it represents continued growth that has seen it become one of the dominant players in the auto, motorcycle and recreational vehicle insurance markets.

A Covington, Ga., couple called GEICO recently looking to purchase a new auto insurance policy. Little did they know that their 15-minute phone conversation with GEICO sales counselor Jon Hollingshed of Macon, Ga., would propel GEICO to a record-breaking 15-millionth policy.

“We are extremely excited that the 15-millionth policy was purchased here in Georgia,” said GEICO regional vice president Rhett Rayburn. “For the second time in 12 months, we’ve been a part of a significant policyholder milestone. This is a true testament to the tireless effort and hard work of our GEICO team here in Macon.”

Speaking with the couple over the phone, Hollingshed mentioned that they did their homework by asking the right questions, looking at coverage options, comparing quotes and reading customer reviews. “They reviewed different auto insurance companies but chose to go with GEICO because of our easy sales process, price discounts and mainly positive customer comments,” said Hollingshed.

As for being a part of GEICO’s historic milestone, Hollingshed had no idea that he had just sold GEICO’s 15-millionth policy. “When they told me the good news, I couldn’t believe it,” said Hollingshed. “My initial impression: what are the chances of that happening?”

GEICO (Government Employees Insurance Company) is a member of the Berkshire Hathaway family of companies and is the second-largest private passenger auto insurance company in the United States. GEICO, which was founded in 1936, provides millions of auto insurance quotes to U.S. drivers annually. The company serves more than 15 million private passenger customers, insuring more than 24 million vehicles (auto & cycle).

© 2017 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.

ReeceNichols Has Biggest Year in 16 Years

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Berkshire Hathaway’s Kansas City real estate company, ReeceNichols, achieved its most successful year in 16 years in 2016 and helped 20,278 Kansas City families buy and sell their homes.

The company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Berkshire’s HomeServices of America, Inc.

The company has over 2,300 real estate sales professionals operating out of 18 offices throughout Kansas City and its surrounding counties — maintaining its position as the largest real estate company both in the metropolitan area and throughout Missouri and Kansas.

The ReeceNichols family of services enjoyed similarly excellent results. HomeServices Lending helped over 1,200 families purchase homes, and three of their lending officers ranked in the top 10 nationally for all of HomeServices Lending. In addition, Reece & Nichols Insurance provided peace of mind and security for 400 households, and Kansas City Title navigated over 8,000 people through the home closing process. The ReeceNichols Alliance offices — which span north to St. Joseph, Missouri; east to Columbia, Missouri; south to Ottawa, Kansas; and west to Junction City, Kansas — closed 4,205 transactions with over $656 million in residential sales volume.

“These records and achievements are a direct result of our outstanding sales professionals, who are deeply committed to serving Kansas City,” President & CEO Linda Vaughan said. “We do our best to equip them with the best technology and tools to serve their clients, but all 2,300 of our team members are responsible for creating those rewarding experiences to home buyers and sellers. Our family of services strive to work seamlessly with our branch offices to help our clients enjoy the smoothest home buying and selling experiences.”

© 2017 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.

Commentary: Not All Rotten Apples for Berkshire in Nevada

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There’s no doubt that the last few years have been a surprisingly rough time for Berkshire Hathaway’s NV Energy in Nevada.

One the one front, it has been in a battle with the roof-top solar industry over the hearts, minds, and wallets of retail customers.

On the other front has been the casino industry and its push for cheaper commercial power for its ubiquitous neon and blazing light bulbs.

Losing customers is not the path to grow a business, and when in October 2016 both MGM Resorts and Wynn Resorts paid tens of millions to exit the NV Energy power grid, it looked like the shiny red apple of NV Energy that Berkshire acquired for $5.6 billion in cash in 2013 might have a few worms in it.

So, it’s nice to get some good news that Berkshire has signed a major customer to a new solar power agreement. And that customer is a high-profile customer, Apple.

NV Energy and Apple reached an agreement in January to build 200 megawatts of additional solar energy in Nevada by early 2019.

The projects will support Apple’s renewable energy needs for its Reno data center.

NV Energy is filing an application with the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN) to enter into a power purchase agreement (PPA) for the solar power plant. The project will bring NV Energy’s total to more than 529 megawatts of new solar resources in construction in Nevada or under review for approval.

This is in addition to the 491 megawatts of universal solar resources in Nevada currently serving NV Energy customers. Apple will also dedicate up to 5 megawatts of power to NV Energy’s future subscription solar program for residential and commercial customers.

“We are proud to play a role in helping Apple meet their energy needs with Nevada’s abundant solar resource,” said Paul Caudill, president and CEO of NV Energy. “In partnership with our customers, we continue to develop a more balanced fuel mix in a way that benefits the local economy by providing hundreds of jobs for Nevadans, particularly those in the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers local 357 and 396, and advances the state’s policy goals.”

“Investing in innovative clean energy sources is vital to Apple’s commitment to reaching, and maintaining, 100 percent renewable energy across all our operations,” said Apple’s vice president for environment, policy and social initiatives Lisa Jackson. “Our partnership with NV Energy helps assure our customers their iMessages, FaceTime video chats and Siri inquiries are powered by clean energy, and supports efforts to offer the choice of green energy to Nevada residents and businesses.”

© 2017 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 KITCO Fiber Optics

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Berkshire Hathaway has acquired KITCO Fiber Optics is a leading provider of fiber optic connectorization products and consulting services to the military and commercial communications industry.

Based in Virginia Beach, Virginia, the company specializes in the design and fabrication of fiber optic tools, tool kits and custom cable assemblies; producing private label kits for a number of major connector manufacturers and selling our own broad line of products; field services providing on-site termination, splicing, troubleshooting and testing support, and hands-on training and certification programs.

KITCO was founded in 1997 as a division of Norfolk Wire and Electronics.

The company grew quickly, and in 2002 and 2003 was recognized by the Fantastic 50 as one of the 50 fastest-growing firms in Virginia.

The company’s longtime chairman, W. Sheppard “Shep” Miller III, stepped down upon completion of the sale.

© 2017 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.

BYD Unveils Largest E-taxi Fleet in South East Asia

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China’s BYD Company has introduced 100 electric taxis in Singapore, forming the biggest e-taxi fleet in South East Asia. The commercial introduction of the pure electric e6 cars also represents the largest investment of its kind by a Chinese electric car manufacturer.

This latest injection of electric taxis into Singapore’s transport network was launched amidst much fanfare from 300 attendees including the Secretary General of the National Trade Union Congress Chan Chun Sing, diplomats and various BYD representatives.

The expansion comes two years after BYD’s fleet of 30 e-taxis first hit the country’s roads in 2014, operated by HDT Holdings, the only e-taxi operator in Singapore, in partnership with the ride hailing company Grab. With the highly recognized customized service of the 30 e-taxi fleet, HDT Holdings got a special permission from the local government to run another 100 e-taxis and called up a tender for the fleet. BYD won this tender to provide the 100 e-taxis to HDT based on its global experience in the industry and the previous successful cooperation with them. “BYD’s electric cars have become our calling card,” said HDT Holdings General Manager James Ng.

Singapore has gradually adopted environmentally friendly policies over the years. The introduction of the 100 e6 taxis is estimated to save the island state around 46,400 tons of carbon emissions a year roughly equivalent to saving 26,000 trees.

“This is only the beginning, as there will be more BYD products and services for Singaporeans in the future,” said Liu Xueliang, General Manager of BYD Asia Pacific Auto Sales Division. “BYD will continue to support Singapore in its noble ambition for sustainable transportation.”

The BYD e6, an all-electric compact crossover/compact MPV, has zero emissions and offers a range of 400 kilometers. There are e6 taxi fleets in China, Colombia, Belgium, Netherlands, U.K., and the U.S.

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 is now worth roughly $1.77 billion.

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

© 2017 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’s Energy Unit on the Uptake with use of Predictive Analytics

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There is no doubt that these days there’s power in big data. And for Berkshire Hathaway Energy there’s literally more power that can be derived at lower cost through the use of predictive analytics.

BHE has signed a deal with recent start-up Uptake Technologies to look for early sign that its wind turbines might be failing due to damage.

Founded by entrepreneur and investor Brad Keywell, Uptake is a predictive analytics SaaS platform that delivers solutions in major industries that increase productivity, reliability, and safety. Uptake’s platform aggregates enterprise and external data and applies cross-industry data science to produce high-value, actionable insights. Uptake’s platform is powered by a continuous feedback loop, recommending impactful actions that are then optimized by human intelligence.

Keywell is also the Managing Partner of Lightbank, a venture fund investing in disruptive technology businesses.

The Uptake agreement is only the latest move as Berkshire’s commitment to wind power has rapidly grown.

In April 2016, Berkshire Hathaway Energy announced plans for a $3.6 billion, 2,000 megawatt wind farm in Iowa known as Wind XI. The plant, which will feature 1,000 wind turbines, and will be owned by MidAmerican Energy Company, a unit of Berkshire Hathaway Energy.

When the wind farm is completed, MidAmerican will generate 85 percent of its energy in Iowa from wind.

“We have a dream to deliver 100 percent renewable energy to our customers,” MidAmerican CEO Bill Fehrman said during the announcement of the Iowa project.

© 2017 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.