Monthly Archives: May 2017

BYD’s Pure Electric Buses Now on the Job in Canada

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Chinese battery and vehicle maker BYD has debuted its first three pure electric buses in St. Albert, Canada.

The buses are the first electric buses BYD has sold in Canada, and the three BYD K9 buses are the first of seven electric buses for the city.

The order represents a conversion of a full 10% of the city’s bus fleet to electric, which will be fulfilled by the end of the year and shows its commitment to migrating its fleet to next-generation fuels.

Of particular note is the performance of the buses in cold weather. The buses are hardy enough to perform in extreme cold weather that can drop down to -35°C in the winter.

The city of Edmonton has also tested BYD’s buses and found that two of BYD’s K9 electric buses tested against two brand new diesel buses were more reliable in the extreme cold temperatures than the diesel buses.

The buses cost $970,000 Canadian dollars each, and are part of the province’s Green Transit Incentives Program, which supports new and existing public transport infrastructure technology. The project’s ultimate aim is to reduce the number of vehicles on the province’s roads and lower greenhouse gases.

BYD Canada Vice President Ted Dowling said the introduction of the 10.6 meter long battery powered buses were exciting. “Many more Canadian cities and provinces will be under pressure to buy electric buses soon because they cannot be led by the oil province.” Alberta has the world’s third largest oil reserves.

Provincial and federal politicians in Canada have actively promoted green transport solutions in the country as part of the country’s commitment to mitigating climate change.

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.

Gen Re Hires New Chief Actuary

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William (Bill) Casill, FSA, has joined Gen Re’s North American life and health business as Senior Vice President and Chief Actuary, assuming strategic oversight of pricing and valuation for General Re Life Corporation. He reports to Vincent DeMarco, President and CEO.

Bill has an extensive background in pricing and valuation, including over 25 years of experience in mortality analytics, underwriting and reinsurance. Prior to his new role, he served as Head of Reinsurance and Corporate Chief Underwriter at AXA Equitable.

“We are excited about the experience Bill brings to Gen Re. His impressive wealth of knowledge will allow him to immediately support our profitable growth objectives,” said DeMarco.

“What mainly attracted me to Gen Re was the opportunity to work with a talented group of professionals, both within the company and across their wide range of clients,” said Casill. “I look forward to working under a top quality brand and identifying ways we can be more competitive across markets.”

Bill is based in the Stamford, Connecticut office and is a graduate of Stony Brook University.

© 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.

Fruit of the Loom Teams With Dow Chemical for New Apparel Line

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Berkshire Hathaway’s Fruit of the Loom has teamed up with Dow Chemical’s Dow Microbial control, to add protection and moisture wicking properties to its new ‘Dual Defense’ men’s undergarment line.

Odor protection and moisture wicking are the top two performance features that consumers are looking for in underwear, Dow claims.

“When companies like Fruit of the Loom and Dow collaborate to apply breakthrough technology to consumer products, positive outcomes occur,” said Larry Ryan, business president, Dow Energy and Water Solutions. “Not only does the marketplace benefit from these positive outcomes, but so do the companies, which will fuel future collaborations.”
The collection of men’s FRUIT OF THE LOOM® underwear with DUAL DEFENSE™ will be enhanced with INTELLIFRESH™ durable and long-lasting freshness protection from Dow. INTELLIFRESH™, powered by Dow SILVADUR™ antimicrobial technology, utilizes a patented, smart delivery system that enables long-lasting protection by minimizing the growth of odor-causing bacteria on fabric surfaces.

“Fruit of the Loom is listening to our consumers. They want enhanced benefits at a great value. This collection delivers both in products consumers already know, love, and trust,” said Mark Hartman, vice president of marketing for Fruit of the Loom.

FRUIT OF THE LOOM® chose SILVADUR antimicrobial technology because of the durable performance to last through multiple home launderings. Packaging for the FRUIT OF THE LOOM® products with DUAL DEFENSE™ will feature the INTELLIFRESH™ trademark signaling consumers that the products contain reliable and longer lasting built-in odor protection.

“The growing consumer trend for a more hygienic, sustainable lifestyle is increasing the marketplace demand for apparel with ‘smart technologies’ that offer multiple functional benefits,” said Karel Williams, strategic marketing director for Dow Microbial Control. “As an industry leader, Fruit of the Loom has recognized this important trend and responded by enhancing its Fruit of the Loom products with INTELLIFRESH™ built-in odor protection.”

© 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.

Berkadia Secures Over $130 Million in Loan Proceeds for Houston Multifamily Portfolio

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Berkadia, Berkshire Hathaway’s joint venture with Leucadia National Corporation, has announced that it has arranged more than $130 million in financing for H7, a portfolio of seven, Class B multifamily properties located in Houston.

Managing Director Ed Kim of Berkadia’s Irvine office originated the refinancing, which closed on May 1. The floating rate bridge loan, secured through a CMBS lender, featured a 75 percent loan-to-value ratio. Totaling more than 2,000 units, the portfolio had an average occupancy rate greater than 93 percent at closing.

“The solid rent growth and stable occupancy in the Houston Class B multifamily space, coupled with a decline in interest rates, has fueled an increase in apartment refinances,” Kim said. “The lender was able to meet the borrower’s required timeline, which was aggressive, and provide a favorable structure accretive for the sponsor’s investment thesis.”

The properties offer one-, two- and three-bedroom units with a variety of amenities, including fireplaces, walk-in closets, dishwashers, ceiling fans, hardwood floors, built-in bookshelves, gated access, clubhouses, fitness centers and swimming pools.

About Berkadia

Founded in 2009 as a 50/50 joint venture between Berkshire Hathaway and Leucadia National Corporation, Berkadia is a third-party commercial mortgage servicer, as well as an approved lender for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and HUD/FHA.

The company is among the top Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae multifamily lenders.

Berkadia owes its origins to GMAC Commercial Mortgage Corporation, which was acquired in 2009 by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., Five Mile Capital Partners LLC, and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners. Christened Capmark Financial, the company had $10 billion of originations in 2008 and a servicing portfolio of more than $360 billion before running into bankruptcy in October 2009.

In a deal approved by the bankruptcy court, Capmark sold its mortgage loan and servicing to the newly formed Berkadia in a deal worth $515 million.

The deal brought Berkshire into the heart of the commercial loan serving business, and the company has one of the largest commercial real estate servicing portfolios.

© 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.

Mouser Electronics Signs Distribution Agreement with Samsung

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Berkshire Hathaway’s Mouser Electronics, Inc. has signed a global distribution agreement with Samsung to distribute the SAMSUNG ARTIK™ family of modules, development kits, and accessories.

The SAMSUNG ARTIK Smart IoT platform is designed to help developers capitalize on easy-to-use, open and enterprise-grade APIs, SDKs, and tools to quickly bring wearable, smart, and Internet of Things (IoT) solutions to market.

“Mouser is excited to add the SAMSUNG ARTIK products to our IoT linecard,” said Jeff Newell, Sr. Vice President of Products at Mouser. “With our shared focus on prototyping within the design cycle, Mouser and Samsung can better fulfill demand for this technology around the world.”

John Kalkman, Vice President of Worldwide SAMSUNG ARTIK Platform Sales, Samsung Electronics, added, “We are pleased that Mouser has joined our growing list of global distributors to help speed customers in their IoT development and time to market. Mouser’s focus on delivering the newest technologies with best-in-class service, is a win for designers as demand for IoT applications continues to grow.”

The SAMSUNG ARTIK Smart IoT platform makes it easy to build and deploy secure, interoperable IoT products and services. The tiny, low-power, lightweight ARTIK 0 family — consisting of the ARTIK 020 and ARTIK 030 — is optimized for single-function IoT devices, such as door locks, lights, and sensors. The ARTIK 020 module integrates all of the necessary elements required for a Bluetooth® low energy application, while the ARTIK 030 module enables rapid development of wireless mesh networking solutions using ZigBee® or Thread® protocols.

The ARTIK 5 family includes the ARTIK 520 and ARTIK 530 modules. The ARTIK 520 is a highly integrated system-on-module (SoM) that uses a dual-core ARM® Cortex®-A7 processor and Wi-Fi®, Bluetooth, and ZigBee for secure point-to-point authentication and data transfer in home automation and home hub devices. The ARTIK 530 offers many of the same features as the ARTIK 520 module, but at a lower cost boosts performance with a quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor and support for Bluetooth 4.2 and Thread connectivity. For building high-end IoT gateways or multimedia applications, or for large amounts of local processing, the ARTIK 710 module offers an 8-core, 64-bit ARM Cortex A-53 processor and built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ZigBee, and Thread communication.

The SAMSUNG ARTIK modules are supported by development kits as well as accessory boards for some modules — including a camera, LCD screen, and sensor board.

© 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.

Duracell Believes in the Alkaline Battery

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While lithium batteries are always in the news, Duracell, which is the king of the alkaline battery, believes that the alkaline battery will continue to be relevant and can even increase its share of the battery market.

That’s good news for Berkshire Hathaway, which purchased the venerable brand from Proctor and Gamble in 2016.

The key Duracell believes are the many performance benefits of the alkaline battery. The alkaline battery is safe, it doesn’t get hot, and it has a long shelf-life. Duracell offers its batteries with a 10-year guarantee in storage. It also has a level of availability and ease of use that can’t be beat.

Just a few decades ago, flashlights and toys were the primary uses of disposable batteries, but today, alkaline batteries are used in a host of applications, including everything from wireless mice to medical devices.

Sales of household batteries are still growing and will reach $4,750 million by the year 2020, up from $4,125 million in 2015, according to Research and Markets’ report, “Household Batteries: Consumer Market Trends in the U.S.”

According to the report, the compound annual growth rate for the period is projected to be 2.9%.

Under Berkshire, Duracell’s in a new position as its own company rather than as a division of P&G (and before that Gillette). With Warren Buffett’s legendarily hands-off management style, which lets his CEOs chart their own course, Duracell’s in position for the first time to have total control over the direction of its brand.
For Berkshire, Duracell looks to be a brand that can continue to shine brightly.

© 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 Pure Electric Refuse Truck for North American Market

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Noisy, smelly diesel-powered refuse trucks are about to be replaced by a zero- emission pure electric refuse truck by Chinese battery and vehicle maker BYD that is now available for purchase and deployment in North America.

BYD, which has become the world’s largest manufacturer of electric vehicles, debuted its class 8 battery-electric refuse truck at the 2017 ACT Expo at the Long Beach Convention Center.

BYD’s truck is the first heavy-duty refuse truck designed and built by an original equipment manufacturer and is 100 percent battery electric. Manufactured in Lancaster, California, the BYD refuse truck is compliant with FMVSS and CMVSS regulations

“BYD continues to lead the heavy-duty electric vehicle market with our advanced battery technology, and this new refuse truck is just the latest example of our vehicle solutions that can save fleet customers tens of thousands of dollars annually,” said Stella Li, President of BYD Motors. “BYD’s medium- and heavy-duty battery electric vehicles have a lower total cost of ownership and can be a one-for-one replacement with fossil fueled vehicles in fleet operations.”

BYD’s 10-ton payload refuse truck provides 76 miles of range with minimal battery degradation. The truck is a cab and chassis platform, which includes the batteries, high voltage control system, all-electric propulsion system, and electric power take off for powering the hydraulic system to operate the refuse truck bodies. This platform is designed to integrate with all of the major refuse truck body builders in North America, and can be configured as a side loader, automated side loader, front loader, rear loader, or roll off.

As the refuse truck was built by BYD in its entirety, as opposed to as a retrofit of a CNG or diesel truck, the entire system was designed with electric propulsion in mind. For operators, that translates to optimized efficiency, maintenance, and usability throughout its life.

BYD says that fleet managers can expect more than $13,000 of operational cost savings annually based on service routes of 60 miles per day/five days a week.

The savings are due to high-efficiency electric motors and motor controls, as well as lower maintenance on propulsion systems, fewer fluids to change, less brake wear due to cutting-edge regenerative braking technology, and fewer moving parts.

The BYD battery-electric refuse truck can charge at 40 kW, 80 kW, 100 kW, or 200 kW rates, requiring between one and five hours to charge depending on the power interface used. BYD’s refuse truck battery technology allows for a projected 80 percent capacity after 5,000 cycles or 14 years, if charged every day.

BYD designs their vehicles to fit in seamlessly to any fleet with an advanced vehicle-to-grid system allowing the vehicle to deliver power back to the grid, to a load, or to another vehicle without any disruptions.

BYD employs more than 600 skilled workers at its manufacturing facility in Lancaster.

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.

MiTek Wins Multiple Awards from the North American Retail Hardware Association

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Berkshire Hathaway’s MiTek® USA has announced that its MiTek Builder Products division has won multiple awards from the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) as part of its 2017 Packaging and Merchandising Awards Program. MiTek has been awarded a Gold Award for its “Bin Display.”

• MiTek has been awarded a Gold Award for its “Bin Display.”
• MiTek has been awarded a Silver Award for its “Carton Display.”
• MiTek has been awarded an Honorable Mention for its “Packaging.”

The judges’ criteria for the award included: Overall Shelf and Sales Appeal, Graphic Design, Innovation, Packaging Efficiency, Shelf Life, and Selling Feature. The awards will be given at the All-Industry Conference and National Hardware Show, May 9-11 in Las Vegas.

“It has always been evident to our MiTek associates and our customers that we take enormous pride in enabling strong sales for their businesses,” said Maged Diab, President of MiTek USA. “These NRHA national awards are indeed an honor, doubly so because they bring recognition to the efforts we have made to drive the success of our retailers and their customers.”

© 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 Provides Financing for Texas Wind Farm

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Berkshire Hathaway’s MidAmerican Wind Tax Equity will provide some of the financing for the Rattlesnake wind project in McCulloch County, Texas. Also providing financing is Citi.

The wind farm project is being built by Renewable Energy Systems (RES) and Chicago-based Goldwind Americas, a subsidiary of China’s Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology.

The project will consist of 64 Goldwind 2.5MW Permanent Magnet Direct-Drive (PMDD) 109m turbines, and will be the largest U.S. wind project that Goldwind has outfitted to date.

Goldwind is aggressively building wind projects around the world, and in May announced it will begin construction of a 149 wind turbine, 530MW wind farm to be called the Stockyard Hill Wind Farm in Australia.

RES is the world’s largest independent renewable energy company with a 12 GW portfolio of wind and solar energy projects.

© 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 Launches Public and Products Liability Insurance in the UK, Ireland and Southern Europe

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Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance (BHSI) is introducing Public and Products Liability Insurance in the UK, Ireland and Southern Europe, and Employer’s Liability Insurance in the UK and Ireland.

The company also named Martin Leeks, Senior Vice President, Casualty, UK and Southern Europe.

“Under Martin’s leadership, we look forward to building out our casualty team in the region and bringing to market creative solutions with the financial strength and long-term underwriting focus of BHSI,” said Tom Bolt, President, BHSI, UK and Southern Europe. “Martin’s wealth of casualty underwriting expertise, coupled with our broad appetite and stable capacity, will translate to solutions that serve customers well for years to come.”

Along with local casualty coverage in the UK and Southern Europe, BHSI will provide multinational programs and underwrite certain targeted trades via Coverholders.

Martin comes to BHSI with 26 years of casualty underwriting experience, most recently at Mitsui Sumitomo at Lloyd’s. Before that, he was Senior Underwriter at Chartis (AIG) Cat Excess and held casualty underwriting roles at ACE Europe and Zurich. He began his career handling international claims.

© 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.