Monthly Archives: April 2018

Two Berkshire Companies in Consortium of Jewelry Industry Leaders’ Global Blockchain Initiative

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Two Berkshire Hathaway companies, Helzberg Diamonds and Richline Group, Inc., have joined a consortium of gold and diamond industry leaders for the first cross-industry initiative to use blockchain to trace the provenance of finished pieces of jewelry across the supply chain for increased transparency.

Helzberg Diamonds (U.S. jewelry retailer), LeachGarner (precious metals supplier), The Richline Group (global jewelry manufacturer), Asahi Refining (precious metals refiner), and UL (independent, third party verification) are launching the TrustChainTM Initiative, powered by the IBM Blockchain Platform, delivered via the IBM Cloud.

“This initiative is important for our industry as we seek to raise the collective responsibility and provenance practices to new heights. TrustChain is the first blockchain of its kind within our industry, designed as a solution that marries IBM’s leading blockchain technology with responsible sourcing, verification and governance by third party organizations, led by UL as the administrator,” said Mark Hanna, Richline Group’s Chief Marketing Officer.

TrustChain is initially tracking six styles of diamond and gold engagement rings on the blockchain network. As the program continues to develop, TrustChain jewelry is expected to be accessible to consumers in participating retail stores by the end of 2018.

“Consumers care deeply about the quality and source of the jewelry they purchase,” said Bridget van Kralingen, IBM Senior Vice President, Global Industries, Platforms and Blockchain. “This is evidenced by the fact that 66 percent of consumers globally are willing to spend more to support sustainable brands. TrustChain is an example of how blockchain is transforming industries through transparency and viable new business models that specifically benefit the consumer.”

The TrustChain Initiative tracks and authenticates diamonds and precious metals through every stage of the supply chain as it becomes a piece of finished jewelry. It provides digital verification, physical product and process verification, and third-party oversight.

The collaboration’s goal is to instill trust in the origin and ethical sourcing of jewelry by bringing together a community of responsible and ethical organizations across the complex and multi-tiered jewelry supply chain.

Built by IBM Services on open source technology and based on the IBM Blockchain Platform and the Hyperledger Project, TrustChain uses distributed ledger technology that establishes a shared, immutable record of transactions that take place within a network and then enables permissioned parties access to trusted data in real time.

By applying the technology to digitize processes, a new form of command and consent is introduced into the flow of information, empowering those in the blockchain network to collaborate and establish a single shared view of information without compromising details, privacy or confidentiality.

For consumers, TrustChain establishes a trusted product with documented provenance and brings together quality assurance, social and environmental responsibility, and authenticity spanning the entire jewelry ecosystem – from miners, manufacturers, wholesale suppliers and retailers – on a single digital platform.

© 2018 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.

Kraft Heinz Partners with the Food Network for Product Line

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Kraft Heinz has launched Food Network Kitchen Inspirations, a new line of globally inspired Salad Dressings, Cooking Sauces and Meal Kits.

Food Network Kitchen Inspirations is billed as the first-ever grocery product line from Food Network that allows fans to bring home the flavors of the Food Network.

Food Network Kitchen Inspirations gives people the tools they need to make dishes they’re proud of. Every product in the new line either inspires people to try global flavors at home with meal kits like Chicken Tikka Masala, or takes classics up a notch with an inspired take on Creamy Parmesan Caesar Dressing. Each category incorporates authentic flavors and is made with high-quality ingredients, free from artificial flavors, colors or dyes.

“At Kraft Heinz, we are known for our iconic brands that have been staples at dinner tables for decades. This opportunity is especially exciting for us because the new Food Network Kitchen Inspirations products make it easy for people to expand beyond their culinary comfort zones and try new flavors,” said Liz Rubin, senior associate brand manager for Meals at Kraft Heinz. “We are thrilled to partner with Food Network to help consumers spice up their meals and inspire them to get creative in their own kitchens.”

“Food Network has always been a source of culinary inspiration and education, but until now has never offered food products people can bring into their homes,” said Ron Feinbaum, senior vice president and general manager of home promotions and consumer products for Discovery, Inc., parent company of Food Network. “With busy schedules, we know that weeknights can be the hardest time to try new recipes, but with Food Network Kitchen Inspirations Salad Dressings, Cooking Sauces and Meal Kits, people can now make convenient meals without sacrificing flavor.”

“The inspiration for this new product line grew out of a successful marketing partnership we’ve had for many years with The Kraft Heinz Company,” added Karen Grinthal, senior vice president of national ad sales for Food Network. “Kraft Heinz is a key partner with Food Network, and we couldn’t be more pleased with this exciting evolution.”

© 2018 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.

Louisiana Goes for BYD’s Pure Electric Buses

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BYD, the largest battery-electric bus manufacturer in North America and the largest electric vehicle company in the world, today announced a new order that will see three American-made BYD K9S electric buses deployed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, under the authority of the Capital Area Transit System (CATS) later this year. The purchase of these new buses reflects BYD’s continued dominance of the North American battery-electric bus market as well as the continuing growth of the sector across the continent.

“In every corner of the continent, we are witnessing rapid growth in the electrification of bus fleets,” stated Macy Neshati, BYD Senior Vice President. “Whether you are looking at the hot and humid climates of the Deep South, the wet weather of the Northwest or the frigid climates of the North, BYD buses are workhorses that can handle any condition.”

With a range of approximately 150 miles on a single charge and a capacity of up to 32 passengers, depending on configuration, the K9S is ideally suited for the needs of Baton Rouge. BYD buses are projected to cost roughly $1.00 less per mile to operate than the typical diesel-powered bus. The new buses produce zero emissions and make oil changes a thing of the past. The proprietary BYD Iron-Phosphate battery is nontoxic, 100% recyclable, fire-safe and incredibly long-cycled. In fact, BYD is the first and only electric bus manufacturer to offer a full 12-year warranty on batteries.

We are excited to incorporate electric buses into our planned Bus Rapid Transit projects in Baton Rouge,” said Bill Deville, CATS CEO. “These buses will allow us to see how we can use electric buses to reduce the impact of our fleet on our environment and also control costs.”

CATS provides bus service to residents of and visitors to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. They operate 29 bus lines and provides more than 2 million rides each year. To CATS leaders, the new buses constitute an important opportunity to innovate.

“Electric buses are a big step forward for CATS. They represent a chance to pilot new technology in Baton Rouge, and we are very excited about that,” said Jim Brandt, President of the CATS Board of Commissioners.

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 has grown in value almost ten-fold, and is now worth roughly $1.96 billion.

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

© 2018 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 China Vehicle Sales Top 13,000 in March

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While Tesla struggle to manufacture 2,000 Model 3 cars a month, Chinese new energy company BYD sold 13,000 of its plug-in electric cars in March.

The sales mark an increase of 116% year-over-year, and were 31% of the total BYD car sales for the month.

BYD is aiming to sell between 15,000 and 20,000 cars per month when its new model year debuts. The number is not unexpected, as the company sold 15,873 plug-in electric cars in December 2017.

BYD was number one worldwide in plug-in electric vehicle sales in 2017, its third consecutive year.

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 has grown in value almost ten-fold, and is now worth roughly $1.96 billion.

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

© 2018 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 Designates Lipotec as Umbrella Brand

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The Lubrizol Corporation has made Lipotec the umbrella brand for Active Ingredients within Lubrizol Skin Essentials, effective April 2018.

Lipotec was acquired by Lubrizol in 2012 and integrated with Functional Ingredients to create the Lubrizol Skin Essentials division.

The creation of Skin Essentials was Lubrizol’s first step to bring a complete advanced skin care offering to the market. Since then the team has leveraged its skin care science knowledge by focusing on ingredients and formulation concepts that deliver a beautiful and healthy skin experience to the market.

According to the company, Lubrizol Skin Essentials mission is “to become a partner to our clients and help accelerate their creativity with innovative concepts, strong technical and regulatory support, as well as flexibility in supply and delivery.”

© 2018 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 Separate Vehicle Manufacturing from Battery Biz

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In a move that is directly the opposite of Tesla’s acquisition of Solar City, Chinese new energy company BYD will reportedly spin-off its photovoltaic and rechargeable battery businesses into a separately traded public company.

Nissan made a similar move in the fall of 2017 when it sold its electric battery operations and production facilities to Chinese private investment fund GSR Capital.

BYD is currently one of the world’s top PV manufacturers, and produces from wafer to module with an automatic production line.

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 has grown in value almost ten-fold, and is now worth roughly $1.96 billion.

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

© 2018 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.

Wind Powers Berkshire into Top Spot

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With 6.751GW of wind power owned or under contract, Berkshire Hahtaway Energy has moved into the top spot for utilities generating power through wind farms.

According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), Berkshire passed Xcel Energy in 2017 to gain the top spot.

Berkshire’s MidAmerican Energy has set a goal of getting 100% of its energy generation from renewable sources, primarily wind power.

Other Berkshire utilities have also set ambitious goals.

PacifiCorp recently selected four new wind projects that will expand the amount of wind energy produced by 2020.

PacifiCorp’s owned and contracted wind power will increase by more than 60% and will.add enough wind power for approximately 450,000 average homes.

PacifiCorp’s new wind development is part of the company’s Energy Vision 2020 initiative, which also will upgrade the company’s existing owned wind fleet in Wyoming, Washington and Oregon with longer blades and newer technology, and build a new high-voltage transmission line in Wyoming to connect the new wind energy to PacifiCorp’s grid.

“We are committed to expanding the amount of renewable energy serving our customers, and these new wind projects will help us cost-effectively further that goal,” said Stefan Bird, President and CEO of Pacific Power, the unit of PacifiCorp that serves customers in Oregon, Washington, and California.

© 2018 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 Real Estate Number One for 17th Consecutive Year

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ReeceNichols Real Estate, a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate and a wholly owned subsidiary of HomeServices of America, was ranked number one in the Kansas City Business Journal’s “Top Area Residential Real Estate Firms” list for the 17th consecutive year.

The company had $4.78 billion in closed residential volume in 2017.

ReeceNichols has over 2,300 REALTORS® operating from 18 offices in the metropolitan area and 29 franchise offices across Kansas and Missouri.

“We attribute our continued success to our commitment to providing our agents with innovative programs and resources,” CEO Linda Vaughan said. “By equipping our over 2,200 agents with the tools they need to succeed, we are able to best serve the people of Kansas City — an honor we don’t take lightly. In 2017, we added resources allowing agents to use our data to generate and convert more leads than ever before and created a revamped mentorship program.”

In addition, five ReeceNichols Alliance office locations made the “Top Area Residential Real Estate Firms” list. Fourteen ReeceNichols agents and teams earned spots on the “Top Residential Real Estate Agents and Teams” list, including the top two spots. Reece Commercial Real Estate also ranked #10 on the “Top Area Commercial Real Estate Firms” list and #8 on the “Most Active Commercial Real Estate Firms” list.

“Our agents guided more than 17,000 Kansas City families through their home ownership journeys in 2017,” President Mike Frazier said. “We look forward to continuing this tremendous growth in 2018 — in the first quarter alone, we’ve introduced automated marketing services, a comprehensive social media academy and additional Certified ReeceNichols Consultant courses. These offerings, alongside our state-of-the-art website and cutting-edge tools, allow ReeceNichols agents to better serve the people of Kansas City and beyond.”

© 2018 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.

NV Energy Exceeds Nevada’s Renewable Energy Requirement for 8th Straight Year

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Berkshire’s Hathaway’s NV Energy achieved a 25.5 percent renewable energy and related credits level in northern Nevada and 23.1 percent in southern Nevada, for a combined weighted average of 23.8 percent.

This is the eighth year in a row that NV Energy has exceeded the state’s renewable energy requirement, which currently sits at a 20 percent level.

Separate from this legislated mandate, NV Energy has set a goal to double its renewable energy portfolio by 2023.

The most recent additions to NV Energy’s renewable energy portfolio included the 50-megawatt Boulder Solar 2 project in Eldorado Valley southeast of Las Vegas and the 179-megawatt Switch Station 1 and 2 project located in the Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone north of Las Vegas.

NV Energy’s Senior Vice President of Renewable Resources Dave Ulozas noted that NV Energy has been providing renewable energy to customers since the 1980s, and the most recent renewable energy rankings by the U.S. Energy Information Administration puts Nevada second in the nation for geothermal resources and fourth for solar energy.

“We are proud to continue to help expand Nevada’s growth in clean energy, which benefits both our customers and Nevada’s strengthening economy,” Ulozas said. “We’ve been able to accomplish this while keeping electricity rates about 15 percent lower than they were nearly a decade ago, and we anticipate adding a considerable amount of new renewable energy at similar or lower rates than we have in place today.”

Currently NV Energy customers benefit from 46 separate renewable energy projects in Nevada, which include 19 geothermal plants, 16 solar fields, six hydroelectric resources, four biomass or methane gas facilities and one large wind farm.

Five additional large solar fields are being constructed or developed for NV Energy customers, which are located in both northern and southern Nevada areas.

Additionally, the company and an independent evaluator are reviewing more than 100 bids for renewable energy projects and battery-energy storage systems proposed for 26 separate sites throughout Nevada. The winning bids will be submitted for approval to the PUCN by June 1, 2018.

© 2018 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 Expands Mexico Office

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Berkshire Hathaway’s Mouser Electronics, Inc., the industry’s leading new product introduction distributor with the widest selection of semiconductors and electronic components, has announced a significant expansion of its customer service and support center in Guadalajara, Mexico.

The new and expanded customer service center will serve local electronic design engineers, buyers and hardware innovators in the region, helping them to access the newest products and technical support for their designs. Mouser has 22 offices worldwide, including four locations in North America.

“Mouser’s business in Mexico has seen over 20 percent annual growth in recent years,” said Mark Burr-Lonnon, Mouser’s Senior Vice President of Global Service & EMEA and APAC Business.

Mouser’s office will remain at the Condominio Ejecutivo Presidente, although in a much larger and more prominent space. The location is in one of the most prestigious areas of the city, just minutes from Expo Guadalajara and many corporate and business centers.

“Our new, much larger location will accommodate more employees as we triple our staff, up to 42 people; this includes customer service representatives and technical support representatives to better serve customers throughout Latin America in local languages, time zones and currencies,” Burr-Lonnon said. “The Mexico branch will become a Center of Excellence for our Latin American customers.”

“We are very excited about this significant expansion and see our local presence in Mexico as an important contribution to Latin America’s vibrant environment for innovation, design and manufacturing,” said Coby Kleinjan, Mouser’s Vice President of Americas Customer Service and Sales. “We look forward to better serving our Latin American customers with best-in-class local service and fast delivery of the newest products and leading technologies from our 700+ manufacturer partners.”

Mouser gives design engineers, buyers and innovators easy access to the newest electronic components and comprehensive design resources. Mouser provides products and services to engineers around the world through its comprehensive website at Mouser.com, as well as via phone, email and fax. The larger office in Mexico will better support customers as well as assist with Mouser’s overall marketing efforts throughout the region.

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.