Monthly Archives: June 2017

Berkshire Hathaway Invests $377 Million in STORE Capital

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Berkshire Hathaway has purchased 9.8% of STORE Capital Corporation, an internally managed net-lease real estate investment trust (REIT) that invests in Single Tenant Operational Real Estate.

Berkshire through a subsidiary invested $377 million for 18.6 million shares of company stock in a private placement at a price of $20.25 per share.

“Berkshire Hathaway’s investment solidly positions STORE for continued growth, while adding measurably to our already strong financial position,” said Christopher H. Volk, President and Chief Executive Officer of STORE Capital. “An investment in our company from one of history’s most admired investors represents a vote of confidence in our experienced leadership team and an affirmation of our profit-center real estate investment and management approach.”

In a statement to CNBC, Volk noted that Berkshire had first inquired about the company in 2014 and had been following them closely.

© 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 Besting Esurance in Illinois

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

GEICO Casualty has been gaining customers in Illinois while its competitor, Allstate’s Esurance, has seen policyholder slippage.

Esurance’s total Illinois policyholders dropped 4% from the prior year to 49,317, according to its June 12 filing with the Illinois Department of Insurance. Nationally, its total policyholders fell 2% to 1.4 million from 1.43 million.

In contrast, GEICO Casualty’s Illinois policyholders grew to 212,029 policyholders as of March 31, which is a strong 15% increase from 183,644 policyholders.

In 2011, Allstate bought Esurance and Answer Financial from White Mountains Insurance Group for roughly $1 billion. Esurance sells auto insurance directly to customers online and through call centers. The unit has never turned a profit, and Allstate has responded by slashing its advertising budget.

© 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 to Invest Millions in Home Capital Group

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Berkshire Hathaway will invest C$153,225,739 in Canadian lender Home Capital Group.

Home Capital Group Inc. is a public company, traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange (HCG), operating through its principal subsidiary, Home Trust Company. Home Trust is a federally regulated trust company offering residential and non-residential mortgage lending.

Berkshire will make the investment through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Columbia Insurance Company, which will make an initial investment of C$153,225,739 to acquire 16,044,580 common shares on a private placement basis, representing an approximate 19.99% equity stake in Home Capital on a post-issuance basis (25% on a pre-issuance basis).

Berkshire will not be granted any rights to nominate directors of Home Capital or any governance rights as an equity holder.

© 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.

BH Media Making $10 Million Investment in North Carolina Plant

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Berkshire Hathaway’s media company, BH Media, is investing $10 million to expand its existing facility in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

The 12,000-square-foot expansion includes a new building next to its current facility that will house a new press.

When the project is completed, the new press will print papers covering Morganton, Marion, Statesville, Hickory, Mooresville, Concord and Rockingham County.

BH Media publishes 31 daily newspapers and websites, and a number of associated weekly publications.

BH Media also owns operates WPLG, an ABC television affiliate in Miami.

© 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 ADL Partnership to Supply 36 More Electric Busses for London Routes

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

The partnership between Chinese battery and vehicle maker BYD and the UK’s leading bus manufacturer Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL) has been selected as preferred bidder by RATP Dev London for the latter’s order of a total of 36 10.8m pure electric buses.

Following a comprehensive technical evaluation of zero emissions buses from a range of electric bus suppliers, RATP Dev London has entered into a letter of intent for the procurement of BYD ADL’s Enviro200 electric vehicle.

The commercial terms for the supply of the vehicles are currently being negotiated for vehicle delivery in spring 2018.

BYD ADL previously supplied The 51 Enviro200EV single-decker buses that were built in Britain and are operated by Go-Ahead London from its Waterloo garage, servicing two Transport for London (TfL) routes – 507 and 521.

The new buses would be based at London United’s Shepherd’s Bush garage and be deployed on two high frequency TfL bus routes: C1 from Victoria to White City and 70 from South Kensington to Chiswick. These two routes, one of which is already operated by RATP Dev London, are being converted by RATP Dev London to full electric operation following the company’s recent success in winning these routes through Transport for London’s tendering process.

The BYD ADL Enviro200 10.8m is a new model designed for more restrictive route conditions than the 51 12m models already in service on the London bus network. Many London streets feature sharp corners and the smaller vehicle – still capable of accommodating 76 passengers – is more appropriate for some routes. Like all ADL BYD models, the new buses will be guaranteed to complete a full day’s duty cycle without the need for recharging.

Once concluded, the new order will bring the number of ADL BYD electric buses in London to over 100, by some way the largest volume of full size electric buses in service in any major European city. The successful and long term BYD ADL partnership agreement has recently been renewed and extended to cover a broader range of exciting products meeting many UK bus model requirements.

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.

Berkshire’s Furniture Retailers to Benefit from Growth in Luxury Furniture Market

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Berkshire Hathaway’s furniture retailing companies, which include Nebraska Furniture Mart, Jordan’s, and R.C. Wiley, will benefit from projected growth in the luxury furniture market.

In a new report from Research and Markets, “Global Luxury Furniture Market 2017-2021,” the global luxury furniture market is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.92% during the period from 2017-2021.

The report notes that one of the strongest trends demand for eco-friendly and green furnishings.

“Consumers are currently showing more preference toward eco-friendly furniture such as those made from Moso bamboo, which is harder and more durable than oak. These materials also allow designers to obtain an aesthetic look for their products.”

© 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 Supplies More Pure Electric Buses to Brisbane Airport

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Making further inroads in its sale of pure electric buses in Australia, Chinese battery and vehicle maker BYD has announced an expansion of its pure electric buses to Brisbane airport. The sale comes just eight months after making its commercial debut at the country’s busiest airport in Sydney.

The fleet of eleven 12-meter BYD electric buses will be fully operational in February 2018 as a shuttle service between the airport’s domestic and international terminals. The vehicles will be run by Carbridge, an Australian based world leader in aviation passenger ground transportation who operates BYD electric buses, the Electric Blu, in the Sydney Airport.

“This signifies a milestone for us in Australia, and we are heartened to have more people in Australia support the state-of-the-art electric public transport that we provide,” said Liu Xueliang, General Manager of BYD Asia Pacific Auto Sales Division.

The 12-meter BYD electric bus has a carrying capacity of 70 passengers; features purpose-designed luggage storage racks, and three full size double doors making boarding and alighting more efficient. In addition the buses have GPS next stop announcements, driver monitoring and real time tracking data, meaning issues can be immediately identified and responded to in real time.

Replacing the current fleet for electric buses will result in a reduction of 250 tons of carbon emissions each year, equivalent to taking 100 cars off the road.

Brisbane airport is the closest airport to Queensland’s Gold Coast, a popular holiday destination for visitors to Australia. Around 22.5 million passengers travelled through the airport in 2016, making the airport the third busiest in Australia by passenger traffic.

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.

Intero Real Estate Services Partners With Kukun

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Intero Real Estate Services, Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate and wholly owned subsidiary of HomeServices of America Inc., today announces its partnership with Kukun, an online platform that helps homeowners navigate the home remodeling process.

Available now, Kukun provides all area listings with estimated home renovations costs and the return on investment (ROI) for potential buyers through their website widget on interorealestate.com.

Early results shared through data gathered from the Kukun widget show that the average monthly percentage of homebuyers that check the costs of a home upgrade is 250 percent of the overall listings on Intero’s site, with the most popular renovation estimates being for kitchen and baths, followed by windows and garages. About 12 percent of these users took the next step in searching for contractors for the renovations on Kukun.

“Kukun’s integration gives people more informed buying decisions by providing a transparent view of upgrade expenses and the ROI. With a click of a button, our integration gives the total cost of ownership with estimated renovation costs,” said Raf Howery, CEO and co-founder of Kukun. “Home buyers often want to purchase a turn-key home but can’t afford one in their desired area. Many older homes have the potential to become their dream home with a little TLC, but often fear of renovating causes potential buyers to look elsewhere or remain renters. This is especially true of millennial, first-time buyers who desire to live in big cities and high demand town centers. They often have to purchase an older home that needs work and being able to determine the ROI in real time, allows them to make more educated decisions. By integrating Kukun, homeowners can see exactly what renovation needs to be done, how much it will cost, and what their property will be worth once complete. By informing people, it allows them to make more educated choices.”

Available immediately, all of the real estate listings on Intero Real Estate Services’ website include Kukun’s solution. Future homeowners will also be able to access contractors’ permits in the neighborhood, so they can find vetted contractors who are referenced by neighbors. This eases the pain point for many homeowners of being concerned if the contractor they select is credible.

“As a forward thinking real estate company, we’re excited to continue to advance our services through technology to make the home buying and selling experience better and more transparent,” said Tom Tognoli, Intero President & CEO. “By integrating the Kukun solution into every listing on our website, we can bring extreme value to both consumers and our own agents.”

Kukun is building the bridge between the construction, real estate, loan and retail industries by creating an orchestration platform that accompanies the customer on their home renovation journey from knowing their estimated costs to completing their renovation.

© 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 Industries Acquires Mezzanine International

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Berkshire Hathaway’s MiTek Industries has acquired UK-based Mezzanine International, one of Europe’s leading mezzanine flooring suppliers.

The terms of the acquisition were not announced.

With a focus on European markets, Mezzanine International is a highly regarded leader in the design, prefabrication, and installation of custom work platforms and structural mezzanine systems. In addition to serving the largest global e-commerce providers, the Company’s many customers include leading companies in distribution, processing, aerospace, manufacturing, retail, and entertainment. In order to support the Company’s tremendous growth, in early 2017, Mezzanine International opened a new location in Cologne, Germany.

Established in 1991, Mezzanine International is Europe’s leading mezzanine flooring supplier. Mezzanine International delivers bespoke performance structures, mezzanine decking, and ancillary products to clients across all industry sectors.

The acquisition of Mezzanine International follows another recent acquisition by MiTek in this same sector, Cubic Designs, Inc., a US-based leader in custom work platforms and structural mezzanine systems. Together, Mezzanine International and Cubic Designs can now offer mezzanine platform solutions to their customers on a global scale.

“I am so pleased that Mezzanine International has joined the ranks of a storied company, MiTek Industries, Inc. A vital aspect of this acquisition was the remarkable alignment of our core values with MiTek’s, which is essential to executing our long-range growth plans,” said Scott Chambers, managing director of Mezzanine International. “Given our current design and manufacturing capabilities in Europe, combined with the momentum we are sure to experience with MiTek’s global footprint, formidable brand and resources, we expect growth rates and technology developments that far outpace our competitors.”

“The acquisition of Mezzanine International furthers our strategy for global diversification. Scott and his team have built a growing business that is recognized as a leader in the markets where they compete, while building and maintaining a trust-based culture,” said Mark Thom, MiTek’s CEO. “This is an incredible addition to the MiTek family, and I’m truly excited about the future growth opportunities that we will create together.”

© 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 Touts Results of its Fully Sustainable Power Solutions

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

BYD is touting the results of its initial pilot project in its Fully Sustainable Power Solutions initiative, which combines BYD’s battery storage technology with photovoltaic panels.

Results from the first year of BYD’s 60MWh UK project show that BYD’s energy storage system has operated smoothly over the 12 month period. The system responds quickly to the grid’s demand, matching over 99% of aggregate demand with five to six cycles every day. This frequency regulation project is the biggest of its kind in the UK to date.

BYD’s “Fully Sustainable Power Solutions” has the energy generated through PV going directly into energy storage equipment in order to curb instabilities in energy flow and improve distribution.

The idea of combining PV generation with energy storage is not new, but what grants BYD an edge is that not only is the company the world’s largest Iron-Phosphate battery manufacturer, it is also one of the few companies to make both photovoltaic and energy storage products.

TESLA recently acquired Solar City in order to combine its battery storage capability with Solar City’s new photovoltaic roof shingles.

Tom Zhao, Managing Director of BYD Solar Division said the success of the project is proof that the revolutionary business model works. “We want to pave the way for more projects to follow suit so that the new energy market becomes bigger and better,” he said. “There is a potential demand of 100MWh in a similar project in the UK alone, and over 200MWh worldwide.”

BYD also announced its ambition to integrate its energy storage systems with wind power this year, before eventually merging the system with all types of renewable energy generation. BYD notes that this will give consumers and businesses a more stable supply of clean energy and increase the functionality of renewable power generation stations.

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.