Clayton Homes Looking at Wichita Falls for New Facility

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With demand strong for mobile homes, Berkshire Hathaway’s Clayton Homes, the number one builder of mobile homes, is negotiating to open a plant in Wichita, Texas.

The new facility would be located at the site of the former ATCO building on Burkburnett Road.

If all goes as anticipated, the plant will add 200 jobs to the city.

Currently, Clayton Homes has eight plants in Texas that are all running at capacity.

Damage from September’s Hurricane Harvey has increased the need for modular homes in Texas.

© 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.

Special Report: Berkshire Still Sitting on 4 trillion Cubic Feet of Natural Gas

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In mid-November 2015, Berkshire Hathaway Energy’s Australian subsidiary, CalEnergy Resources, drilled a test well in Western Australia for what the company called a “significant gas field.”

The gas field, which is located below the Whicher Range, is estimated to contain four trillion cubic feet of gas-in-place.

CalEnergy is the sole titleholder and operator of the exploration permit EP 408 located approximately 280 kilometers south of Perth, and covers both the Whicher Range and Wonnerup gas fields.

The Long, Very Slow History of the Whicher Range Gas Fields

The gas fields were first discovered in 1968 and 1971, respectively, and are located in ancient sandstone reservoirs nearly four kilometers underground.

The big problem since its discovery has been how to get the gas and not lose your shirt doing it.

According to CalEnergy, the field is a candidate for traditional drilling methods, and hydraulic fracking is not considered a viable option.

In 2016, Peter Youngs, the Managing Director of CalEnergy Resources Group, discussed with MazorsEdge the progress on the development of the gas field, noting that “the field represents a large in place gas resource, its characteristics are challenging and there is much work still remaining to move this resource to a commercially developable status.”

As for the initial test well, Youngs said at the time, “we are encouraged by the flow rates, as seen during the test, but that the critical commercial assessment (of the flow rates) is subject to a period of substantial subsurface data integration work (which is ongoing).

Youngs also doubted that the field could be commercialized by 2017, and that has proven true.

As to when the gas field could start to produce meaningful amounts of natural gas, it still looks to be years away.

CalEnergy recently requested and received, a variation to the permit work program from the Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) to undertake reservoir pressure monitoring – this involves data gauges being placed in the Whicher Range 1 (WR-1) and Whicher Range 4 (WR-4) wells.

The company is continuing with reservoir pressure monitoring, and is focused on enhancing their understanding of reservoir behavior.

In the interim, CalEnergy has launched a Care and Maintenance Environment Plan (CMEP) to maintain the current well sites and drilling pads.

Tantalizing Fruit, Just Out of Reach?

For fifty years, the gas fields of the Whicher Range have both held out the promise of enormous economic benefit, and the frustration of inaccessibility.

CalEnergy notes that in the past, “feasibility studies have failed to identify an economic technical strategy for the development of commercial gas production.”

The good news is that as a result of its tests, the company now believes that gas recovery is feasible, and it’s just a matter of when.

© 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.

MiTek Inks North American Sales and Distribution Agreement with OZCO Building Products

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Berkshire Hathaway’s MiTek has signed a North American sales and distribution agreement with OZCO Building Products.

OZCO Building Products is best known for originating the Ornamental Wood Ties hardware category, offering superior-quality structural connectors for use in decks, pergolas, benches, fences, gates, posts, gardens, planters, and more. OZCO is equally renown for setting the highest standards in retail displays, product installation training, and product knowledge.

As part of this new partnership, OZCO and its products will have access to MiTek’s North American sales force, and will be available through MiTek’s large footprint of retail and pro-dealer customers. OZCO products will now have access to the broad range of US & Canadian dealer locations that work closely with MiTek, while also tapping into the ever-growing MiTek customer base that has been converting to MiTek’s award-winning software, connectors, fasteners, and adhesives.

“Recently, OZCO Building Products has enjoyed tremendous growth, primarily because of our high-quality products combined with our top-tier dealer network,” said OZCO’s Ian Hill. “Now, in our never-ending quest to set higher standards as the leader in the Ornamental Wood Ties category, we couldn’t have asked for a better partner than MiTek. MiTek’s corporate culture and vision are a great fit for OZCO.”

© 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 Surpasses 20,000 E-Bus Orders

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With Tesla focusing primarily on the passenger car market, Chinese new energy company BYD has positioned itself as the world leader in pure electric bus design and development. The company is rapidly moving the e-bus from an experimental novelty to the next generation of reliable urban mass transit.

BYD recently stated that had a confirmed bus orderbook of more than 20,000 buses at the end of 2016.

BYD’s strength in the United States market is growing rapidly. In July, the Board of Los Angeles Metro, one of the largest transportation systems in the United States, voted today to award a contract for 60 40-foot all-electric buses to local manufacturer BYD. This was among the largest single contracts for electric buses in US history.

The buses are being assembled in BYD’s factory in Lancaster, California, and will enable the company to add 59 employees.

BYD has been increasing its manufacturing capability around the world, opening assembly plants in Argentina, Hungary, and France.

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 $1.8 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.

Rocky Mountain Power Adding Wind Power in $3.2 Billion Investment

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Berkshire Hathaway’s Rocky Mountain Power will add approximately 1,100 megawatts of new wind generation as part of its planned new 140-mile Gateway West transmission segment. Most of the new investments will be in Wyoming.

“These investments will provide significant long-term benefits to our customers and bring substantial economic benefits to rural communities where the facilities will be located,” said Cindy A. Crane, Rocky Mountain Power President and CEO.

The company first announced the wind and transmission investments in April as part of its broader long-term energy plan. Additional filings and regulatory approvals will be needed for the projects to be built and serving customers by 2020 as planned.

The Energy Vision 2020 projects were chosen by the company as the most cost-effective option to meet customers’ energy needs over the next 20 years. By moving to complete the projects by 2020, the company will be able to use federal production tax credits to provide a net cost savings to customers over the life of the projects.

In making the wind and transmission investments, the project will also create between 1,100 and 1,600 construction jobs in Wyoming, and add approximately $120 million in tax revenue from construction.
The post-construction annual tax revenues will start at approximately $11 million in 2021 and growing to $14 million annually by 2024.

Rocky Mountain Power is also planning to add solar power generation, as well.

© 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’s B-Box to Compete with Tesla’s Powerwall in U.S. Market

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Going head to head with Tesla’s Powerwall, Chinese new energy technology company BYD is looking to capitalize on the success of its B-Box home power storage system and will introduce the device in the US later this year.

The company will initially focus on east and west coast states, as well as Hawaii, where conventional electricity costs are high, and grid constraints make storage applications attractive.

BYD’s B-Box systems are already on sale in Germany, where it uses nine battery modules for a combined capacity of 11.52 KWh. The modular design enables the capacity of the B-Box system ton be further expanded as required. Up to five systems in total can be connected in parallel.

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 $1.8 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.

GEICO’s Catastrophe Response (CAT) Teams on the Job in Florida

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GEICO’s Catastrophe Response (CAT) teams are now on the ground in Florida.

The CAT teams include auto damage adjusters, supervisors, managers, and IT personnel that are ready to assist policyholders in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee adjusters are also ready to assist in those areas.

GEICO is staffing drive-in claims centers throughout Florida. At the same time several hundred associates around the country are taking loss reports and answering incoming calls. As roads open and areas become more accessible GEICO adjusters are expected to see several thousand vehicles through the week.

Berkshire Hathaway’s GEICO is the top auto insurer in Florida, and has the most at risk with Hurricane Irma possibly headed for landfall on the state’s east coast.

In 2016, GEICO had a 20.68% market share of all auto policies in Florida.

© 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 to Supply Solar Modules for Power Stations in U.S.

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Chinese new energy technology company BYD continues to make inroads in the United States. The company has won a multi-million-dollar contract to supply 170-MW solar modules for PV power plant projects in the U.S

BYD will supply 170-MW solar modules to NextEra Energy, a US-based renewable energy project developer.

BYD completed several rounds of quality and performance tests to win the contract.
Speaking at the Solar Power International convention, Tom Zhao, Managing Director of BYD Solar Division, described how the development of BYD’s integrated PV and energy storage program, especially the commercial operation of the world’s first integrated PV and energy storage project in the UK, helped set the stage for the company’s recent breakthrough in the U.S.

“The U.K. project provided real proof that solar can provide power comparable with conventional energy sources,” Tom Zhao said. “BYD not only successfully enables the commercial operation of solar power we also are proactively exploring possibilities in wind power.”

Since its installation a year ago, BYD’s energy storage system powering the 60-MWh project in the UK has operated smoothly, responding quickly to the grid’s demand, matching over 99 percent of aggregate demand with five to six cycles every day. This frequency regulation project is the biggest of its kind in the U.K.

Tom Zhao added that BYD is also in discussions with several global new energy companies about introducing EV-charging infrastructure and other solutions to help create a zero-emission closed loop system, from power generation to energy storage for sustainable consumption.

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 $1.8 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.

Travel Insurance Benefits from Recent Hurricanes

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While Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have damaged or slowed many businesses, one area that is seeing an increase in demand is travel insurance.

Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection has seen a 35% increase in calls and 6% increase in visits to BHTP.com since August 25 – the day before Harvey made landfall,” said BHTP President Dean Sivley. “Hurricane season always heightens the interest in travel insurance because storms can unfortunately ruin vacations that have been planned for months.”

The terms of travel insurance vary, travelers with existing travel insurance policies may be covered for delays, cancellations and interruptions, which may also cover non-refundable trip payments for the following reasons:

• Inclement weather causing delay or cancellation of travel
• Named hurricane causing cancellation or interruption of travel
• Traveler’s destination made uninhabitable or inaccessible
• Traveler or travel companion must cancel because their primary residence is made uninhabitable or inaccessible.

Generally, once a storm is named, travelers can still purchase travel insurance for their trip, but they will not be eligible for coverage for losses caused by travel delays, cancellations or interruptions due to that storm. BHTP advises travelers to contact their travel insurance provider to confirm and understand the coverage purchased.

© 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.

NFL Player’s Contract Dispute Gives Dairy Queen Unanticipated Publicity Windfall

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An NFL football player’s contract dispute has given an unanticipated publicity windfall to Berkshire Hathaway’s Dairy Queen.

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, who had been in a contract dispute with the Steelers, submitted an application to work at Dairy Queen while trying to come to terms on a long-term contract with the Steelers.

On Tuesday, customers at the Dairy Queen in New Kensington, Pennsylvania discovered that Le’Veon Bell was taking their orders and serving fans, at least for the day.

Bell’s stint at the Dairy Queen came about after he tweeted a photo of himself filling out the application.

Dairy Queen tweeted back: “We’re always looking for top talent to join our team. Send us a DM and we’ll set up an interview.” Bell took Dairy Queen up on its offer, and fans of the Steelers and Dairy Queen were the beneficiaries.

In August, Bell resolved his contract dispute, which came during training camp, but he stepped behind the counter on his day off as part of his love for DQ.

© 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.