Monthly Archives: July 2017

Berkshire Supports Oncor’s Plan to Swap Assets with Sharyland

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Berkshire Hathaway has no problem with Oncor planned asset swap with Texas utility Sharyland.

Oncor announced that it had entered into an agreement with Sharyland to swap assets in a transaction valued at approximately $400 million.

Under the terms of the proposal, Sharyland will exchange their retail distribution assets and retail distribution operations for a set of Oncor’s transmission lines in West and Central Texas.

Sharyland and Sharyland Distribution & Transmission Services (SDTS) will transfer to Oncor their retail distribution assets and retail distribution operations located in their Stanton, Brady, and Celeste (SBC) service territories, as well as their McAllen service territory.

Oncor will transfer to SDTS transmission lines of similar value located in West and Central Texas, which Sharyland will operate on behalf of SDTS.

The proposed transaction also means that Sharyland’s approximately 54,000 retail distribution customers will become Oncor customers and, as a result, will see significantly reduced regulated retail delivery rates.

In a statement, Berkshire Hathaway Energy said applauds Oncor and the various stakeholders for developing solutions to ensure continued safe, reliable, and affordable service for customers.

“The problem-solving culture demonstrated by Oncor and its management team will be a great fit with Berkshire Hathaway Energy,” said Greg Abel, Berkshire Hathaway Energy chairman, president and CEO. “The conditions of the agreements are examples of Oncor’s strong commitment to customers; that same commitment is reflected across Berkshire Hathaway Energy’s 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.

Bankruptcy Court Adopts Berkshire’s Timeline for Oncor Deal

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court adopted key hearing dates for future bankruptcy proceedings related to Berkshire Hathaway Energy’s offer to purchase Energy Future Holdings Corp. (EFH) and, ultimately, Oncor Electric Delivery Company LLC.

“We are pleased with the Bankruptcy Court’s decision, which maintains the timelines set forth in our merger agreement,” said Greg Abel, Berkshire Hathaway Energy chairman, president and CEO. “Our offer is a simple, straightforward deal that is beneficial to Oncor’s customers. Once the necessary approvals are received, we’re looking forward to Oncor joining the many Berkshire Hathaway businesses that are helping to grow the economy in Texas.”

As a member of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. family of businesses, Oncor would receive the financial support to continue investing capital in critical infrastructure that will make the Texas energy grid even stronger and more reliable.

Establishing the bankruptcy court schedule was an important part of the acquisition process. Berkshire Hathaway Energy will continue working with stakeholders in Texas to garner additional support for its bid for Oncor.

So far, 10 major stakeholder and consumer groups have endorsed the deal and its 47 regulatory commitments that benefit the stakeholders 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.

Lubrizol Upgrades Textile Coatings Center of Excellence

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

What’s more excellent than excellent? Excellenter? Excellentest? Well, anyway, Berkshire Hathaway’s Lubrizol has announced that its Performance Coatings business is upgrading its Textile Coatings Center of Excellence in Gastonia, North Carolina.

The facility, which focuses on research and development of coatings technologies for textile and non-woven substrates, and is dedicated to formulating and testing innovative coating technologies for an array of technical textile applications.

The new Center of Excellence is a state of the art textile coating product development and applications testing facility.

“By upgrading our capabilities, we continue our longstanding commitment to the textiles industry”, says Bob Bonner, technical manager. “This investment expands our ability to deliver a wide range of textile coating and testing services for customers, including flame retardancy, abrasion resistance, water repellency, chemical resistance, and stretch-restriction capability.”

“Our textiles team in Gastonia is focused on providing an outstanding experience for customers through technical service”, comments Ted Parigian, sales manager, textile coatings. “They’re constantly developing new technologies, and these upgrades will enhance our ongoing ability to deliver winning solutions.”

Lubrizol investments in global Center of Excellences ensure the ability for highly skilled technical experts to collaborate with customers and each other in world class labs with modern equipment to efficiently deliver advanced coating technologies to customers. “Reducing our response time to customers is a key business goal,” notes Lee Young, technical director. “When we can bring the right, differentiated products to customers and meet their time requirements in the process, then we are a critical part of their success and profitability.”

© 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.

Stakeholders Continue to Line Up for Berkshire’s Oncor Bid

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Berkshire Hathaway continues to line up supporters for its Oncor Electric Delivery Company bid, including from a host of key stakeholders.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 69 and Targa Pipeline Mid-Continent WestTex LLC/Targa Midstream Services LLC are the latest stakeholders to have expressed support for Berkshire’s proposed acquisition of Oncor.

“Support from the IBEW and Targa along with the endorsements we’ve received from other Texas business, community and consumer groups reinforces that our proposal is good for both Oncor’s customers and for Texas,” said Greg Abel, Berkshire Hathaway Energy chairman, president and CEO. “We appreciate the continued and growing support as we work through the transaction process; collectively, these efforts help move the proposal forward to benefit Oncor’s customers, creditors and key stakeholders.”

The announcement brings the total number of influential Texas stakeholder groups that support Berkshire Hathaway Energy’s proposed acquisition of Oncor to 10, including: Public Utility Commission Staff; Cities Served by Oncor; Texas Industrial Energy Consumers; Office of Public Utility Counsel; TXU Energy; NRG Energy; the Texas Energy Association for Marketers (TEAM); the Alliance for Retail Markets (ARM); IBEW Local 69; and Targa Pipeline Mid-Continent WestTex LLC/Targa Midstream Services LLC. TXU Energy and NRG Energy represent two of the largest retail electric providers in Texas, with TEAM and ARM representing dozens of Texas electric market participants. ARM participating members include Champion Energy Services, LLC; Direct Energy, L.P.; NRG Retail Companies; and TXU Energy Retail Company LLC.

© 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 Inks Distribution Deal with InvenSense

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Berkshire Hathaway’s Mouser Electronics has signed a global distribution agreement with InvenSense, a TDK Group company and a leading provider of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) sensor platforms. InvenSense provides solutions that combine MEMS sensors with proprietary algorithms and firmware to intelligently process, synthesize, and calibrate the output of sensors, maximizing performance and accuracy.

InvenSense’s motion tracking, audio and location platforms and services are ideal for mobile, wearables, smart home, industrial, automotive, and Internet of Things (IoT) products.

“This global agreement with InvenSense continues our commitment to providing the latest in MEMS sensors,” said Kristin Schuetter, Vice President, Supplier Management, Mouser Electronics. “Design engineers will have easy access to InvenSense’s world-class portfolio of MEMS devices and evaluation tools, backed by Mouser’s unsurpassed customer service and best-in-class logistics.”

“With Mouser Electronics as a global channel partner, InvenSense can better support our customers and enhance our worldwide distribution network,” said Dan Goehl, Vice President, Worldwide Sales, InvenSense. “By capitalizing on Mouser’s excellent supply-chain services and support, we can expand our global presence and get our products into the hands of design engineers even quicker.”

The InvenSense product line, available at Mouser Electronics, includes a range of MEMS audio and motion devices. The ICS‐52000 is a bottom port, low-noise microphone with a 24-bit time-division multiplexed (TDM) digital output. This complete microphone solution is ideal for microphone arrays and can support up to 16 synchronized microphones on one data line, which can significantly reduce the cost and complexity of the audio signal chain.

Mouser is also stocking three series of InvenSense’s MotionTracking™ devices. The ICM-20602 high-performance 6-axis MEMS MotionTracking device combines a 3-axis gyroscope and a 3-axis accelerometer in a small 3.0 × 3.0 × 0.75 mm package. The device offers gyroscope sensitivity error of ±1 percent, and includes a 1 kByte FIFO to reduce traffic on the serial bus interface and to minimize system power consumption.

The ICM-20648 6-axis MEMS MotionTracking device features an onboard Digital Motion Processor™ (DMP), which offloads computation of motion processing algorithms from the host processor to improve system power performance. The ICM-20648 is a 3-axis gyroscope and a 3-axis accelerometer in a small 3.0 × 3.0 × 0.9 mm package. Tuned for wrist-worn wearables, the ICM-20648 includes step count, activity classifier, and Bring-to-See (B2S) gesture applications.

The ultra-low-power ICM-20948 9-axis MEMS MotionTracking device offers a 3-axis gyroscope, 3-axis accelerometer, and 3-axis compass integrated in a 3.0 × 3.0 × 1.0 mm, 24-pin QFN package. The device runs at just 2.65 mW and includes an on-chip DMP and run-time calibration firmware to enable designers to eliminate the costly and complex selection, qualification, and system-level integration of discrete devices.

© 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 Completes Third Purchase with Kort & Scott Financial Group

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Berkadia, Berkshire Hathaway’s joint venture with Leucadia National Corporation, has announced the sale of a newly constructed, 126-unit, mid-rise community located in Lake Balboa, California.

Managing Director Vince Norris, along with Managing Director Jim Fisher and Senior Director Mike Smith from Berkadia’s Los Angeles office completed the sale on an “off-market” basis.

The transaction was completed on behalf of a private developer for Anaheim-based, Kort & Scott Financial Group. Escrow closed on July 12.

Kort & Scott Financial Group has completed three recent purchases through Norris at Berkadia. In addition to this acquisition, the group also purchased 6940 Sepulveda Blvd. and the Plaza at Lafayette. For Kort & Scott, this marks nearly $250,000,000 of transactions this year and increases their multifamily portfolio to over 9,000 units.

“With this acquisition, Kort & Scott has over 220 units in the Van Nuys sub-market and will be able to achieve tremendous operating efficiencies and take advantage of the Valley’s steady rent growth,” said Norris.

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.

Crager Real Estate Joins Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, part of the HSF Affiliates LLC family of real estate brokerage franchise networks, today announced that independent brokerage Crager Real Estate has joined the network operating as Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Crager Tobin Real Estate.

The brokerage, founded in 2001 by Broker/Owner Laura Crager, operates throughout Central Ohio including Champaign, Clark, Delaware, Fayette, Franklin, Madison and Pickaway counties and surrounding communities.

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices is one of America’s fastest-growing brokerage networks with nearly 43,500 agents and 1,313 offices named to the brand since its 2013 launch.

Crager Tobin Real Estate remains independently owned and operated by Laura Crager and her daughter Kate Crager-Tobin. “We are the same great, local company now backed by a powerful brand,” Laura Crager said. “Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices stands for trust, integrity, stability and longevity and the name stands apart in real estate. We’re proud to bring this brand home to our communities.”

“Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices offers us systems, tools and consultation to help us enhance and grow our operations for years to come,” explained Kate Crager-Tobin. “We’re building a premium environment for our agents to help them deliver incomparable service to our Central Ohio clients.”

With their transition, Crager Tobin Real Estate agents gain access to Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices’ Global Network Platform, a powerful tool suite focusing on lead generation, marketing support, social media, video production/distribution and more. Beyond technology, the brand provides national and international marketing support, professional education and the exclusive Luxury Collection for high-end listings.

As part of the network, Crager Tobin Real Estate is also in line for client referrals from outside its marketplace and relocation business. “We considered franchise opportunities for some time and decided Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices is the best choice for our brokerage, agents and clients,” said Laura Crager. “It gives us all pieces of the puzzle.”

Growth is on the minds of Laura Crager and Kate Crager-Tobin. “We believe the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices brand will have broad appeal among real estate professionals and consumers alike,” Laura Crager said. “We would like to increase our agent count and add new offices throughout the marketplace over the next few years.”

“We are incredibly excited about the future and our agents can’t wait to represent the brand,” said Kate Crager-Tobin. “We will grow, yet we will always be the family-oriented brokerage that does what’s best for its clients.”

“We proudly welcome Crager Tobin Real Estate to our network,” said Gino Blefari, president and CEO of the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. “Laura and Kate operate a terrific, local company with a great reputation. The brokerage will be strong brand ambassador in Central Ohio.”

© 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 Sell 19 Additional Electric Buses to Go-Ahead London

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Chinese new energy technology company BYD through its ADL/BYD electric bus partnership has secured a third order from Go-Ahead London – for a total of 30 of its BYD ADL Enviro200EV 10.8m models.

Eleven of the buses will operate on Transport for London’s route 153 from February 2018 A further 19 electric buses will operate route 214 from August 2019. All will be based at Go-Ahead London’s Northumberland Park in North London which will be equipped with BYD supplied charging equipment.

The new order means that Go-Ahead London will have in service a total of 95 BYD ADL pure electric buses based at three depots – Waterloo, Camberwell and Northumberland Park.

Today’s announcement follows the news last month that another TfL operator, London United – part of RATP Dev, has ordered 36 ADL BYD electric buses. The BYD ADL partnership anticipates further orders imminently as other TfL tenders are awarded.

Richard Harrington, Engineering Director at Go-Ahead Group, said: “We are without doubt the pre-eminent operator of electric buses in London and have accrued significant experience of their operation. The fact is that the BYD ADL products have proved themselves capable of replacing diesel buses without any operational impact in terms of daily scheduling. Careful planning of the depot recharge facilities and infrastructure is of course necessary but we have no need to use any opportunity charging.”

Isbrand Ho, Managing Director BYD Europe, said: “The strength of the combined BYD ADL offer is now clear for all to see. Go-Ahead London’s initial fleet of 51 has been in operation for almost 10 months now, operating reliably and effectively day in, day out. No further trials are necessary – these products deliver outstanding efficiency and environmental benefits today and we are optimistic of further significant orders.”

Robert Davey, ADL’s Group Commercial and Business Development Director, commented: “There can be no excuses now. Faced with the air quality crisis, city transport authorities and operators across the UK can confidently order the BYD ADL Enviro200EV at whatever length suits them secure in the knowledge that our product works well and can replace diesel buses without operational compromises.”

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 Commercial’s Efi Luzon Named the #2 Individual Sales Agent for Transaction Volume in REAL Trend’s “The Thousand”

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Efi Luzon, senior vice president of Intero Commercial was recently named the number two individual sales agent for transaction volume in the nationwide REAL Trend’s “The Thousand” announced on June 23, 2017.

David Troyer and his team of REALTORS from Intero Real Estate Services’ Los Altos office were named the twenty-seventh team for transaction volume.

The awards program acknowledging the most accomplished one thousand agents was developed in conjunction with the Wall Street Journal, Custom Studios, and REAL Trends, a leading source of analysis and information for the residential and commercial real estate brokerage industry. REAL Trend’s “The Thousand” recognizes individuals and teams who exhibit superior performance, oftentimes, as mentioned on REAL Trend’s website, “nearly 20 times” that of their peers. Categories consist of total number of real estate transactions, total transaction volume, and average sales price, over a year period. The REAL Trend’s “The Thousand” report, verified by an independent third party, reveals Efi’s total transaction volume as $834,574,000 and the Troyer Group’s total transaction volume as $311,727,034.

Efi’s and David’s career performance that led to this recognition comes as no surprise to the many colleagues who have seen firsthand their accomplishments.

After many years of witnessing Efi’s consistent performance in negotiating complex multi-million dollar deals, John Thompson, Intero COO, says, “Efi truly deserves this acknowledgement. The sheer number of successful deals throughout his career in real estate is testimony to Efi’s exceptional negotiation skills, his amazing patience and fortitude, and his ability to understand and expertly manage the intricacies of complicated transactions.”

Intero’s president and CEO, Tom Tognoli, comments, “I watch David and his team with amazement. They’re a powerhouse of resolve and business savvy with every real estate transaction. I am grateful to have such accomplished REALTORS and teams as part of Intero. Efi and David are models of the type of business ethics and commitment level Intero strives for and comes to expect from every realtor. We couldn’t be happier for all our agents that made the list!”

Additionally, Intero Real Estate saw many more of their own agents recognized this year in “The Thousand.” “We would also like to acknowledge other exceptional individuals and teams from Intero that made the top 1000,” Tom Tognoli continues. “We’re so proud of each and every one, and we will continue to support them all to keep reaching significant milestones in their careers at Intero.”

Agents and teams from Intero who cleared the top 50 of the prestigious The Thousand:

∙ #2 Individuals by Transaction Volume Efi Luzon
∙ #27 Teams by Transaction Volume The Troyer Group

Intero individual agents and teams who made The Thousand’s top 250:

∙ #162 Teams by Transaction Volume Tse Group
∙ #201 Individuals by Transaction Volume Valerie Mein
∙ #247 Individuals by Transaction Volume Greg Goumas

Intero Real Estate Services is a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate and wholly owned subsidiary of HomeServices of America Inc.

© 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.

Carloads Show Positive Numbers for BNSF

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Half way through the year, higher carload numbers are continuing to bring good news to BNSF Railway when compared to 2016 levels.

Slumping volumes in 2016 saw the total intermodal and carload volumes down 4.94% from 2015 levels, with coal shipments slumping 20.88% from 2015 levels.

Coal is still leading the way in the recovery, with shipments up a strong 19.83% year-to-date through July 8, as compared to the same period in 2016.

Also up a solid 5.12% are intermodal shipments.

While petroleum shipments continue to slide, with year-to-date numbers down 14.23%, the combined intermodal and carloads numbers are up 7.49% in the aggregate.

© 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.