Monthly Archives: May 2018

BYD Debuts Short-Haul Truck at Port of Oakland

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BYD, the world’s largest electric vehicle company, has delivered the first battery-electric 8TT truck to the Port of Oakland.

The Class 8 truck was grant-funded by CARB and will be part of a three-year feasibility study to determine whether zero-emission trucks could replace diesel trucks.

The truck will be tested for short-haul operations by major California trucking operator, GSC Logistics, and used to shuttle cargo containers between their depot and Oakland marine terminals. As the largest motor carrier at the port, GSC hauls 120,000 containers of cargo across Northern California and Nevada annually. GSC manages 200 owner-operated trucks each day and currently operate five short-haul company trucks.

“BYD is proud to celebrate the deployment of our 8TT truck in partnership with CARB and GSC Logistics to prove that clean battery-electric transportation is reliable, sustainable and readily available for the drayage industry,” said BYD Motors President Stella Li.

By utilizing battery-electric trucks, companies like GSC can lower operating costs while significantly improving air quality through the elimination of pollution caused by diesel trucks. In addition to the cost savings andenvironmental and health benefits that come from converting to clean battery-electric technology, there are a number of other benefits such as reduced noise levels along busy trucking routes.

“We are eager to put this truck to the test and be part of an initiative that will not only help us save money, but positively impact the environment and change the future of transportation for years to come,” Said Brandon Taylor, Director of Transportation at GSC Logistics.

The Port of Oakland has already significantly reduced diesel pollution through clean truck programs. As they update their Maritime Air Quality Improvement Plan, zero-emissions technology will be emphasized.

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.

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Named ‘Real Estate Agency Brand of The Year’

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Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices is the “Real Estate Agency Brand of the Year” and “Most Trusted Real Estate Brand” in the 30th annual Harris Poll EquiTrend® study.

More than 77,000 U.S. consumers rated 3,000 brands in about 300 categories in the online study earlier this year. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices received the highest ranking in the Real Estate Agency category based on consumers’ perception of its brand familiarity, quality and purchasing consideration, among other qualifying factors.

“We are honored to be recognized by consumers in the respected Harris Poll EquiTrend® study,” said Gino Blefari, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices president and CEO. “It’s a tribute to our franchisees’ tireless work and support of clients and the exemplary way they represent our brand in the marketplace.”

This year’s EquiTrend® study reflected an emerging trend in consumer behavior – the push to simplify and align with brands they know and trust. “Trust is earned,” said Blefari. “We are absolutely proud consumers chose our Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices as ‘Most Trusted Real Estate Brand.’ It speaks to the way our franchisees conduct business every day and deliver on their promises.”

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices has momentum in eyes of consumers. The brand was recognized for “Highest Overall Satisfaction for Repeat Home Sellers Among National Full Service Real Estate Firms” in J.D. Power’s 2017 Home Buyer/Seller Satisfaction Study.

“Our network professionals are passionate about client satisfaction and service,” said Blefari. “We are elated their hard work and dedication to their profession has been recognized by consumers.”

The 2018 Harris Poll EquiTrend® study measures and compares the brand health of companies. Respondents offer their perceptions of brands, gauging their emotional connection to them plus brand awareness, influence and familiarity.

© 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.

NetJets Pilots Can Fly Until Age 70 Under Proposed FAA Reauthorization Bill

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The FAA reauthorization bill currently under consideration by Congress would have a mandatory retirement age of 70 for NetJets pilots.

The mandatory age 70 retirement age for certain Part 135 and Part 91K pilots would apply only to companies that perform at least 150,000 turbojet operations in a calendar year. The only company that currently has that level of turbojet operations is NetJets.

The AARP has come out in opposition to any age limits as arbitrary.

“AARP has long opposed mandatory retirement; using an arbitrary age as a proxy for competence is wrong in any occupation, and it is wrong for pilots,” AARP stated in a letter to House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman Bill Shuster and ranking member Pete DeFazio.

“Pilots should be judged on the basis of their individual ability, flying skills, and their health, not on stereotypes or mistaken assumptions about their fitness based on age,” notes the nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, which has nearly 38 million members.

However, NetJets has come out in support of the age 70 retirement age.

“The lack of a pilot age restriction for large private air carriers is a growing concern in aviation safety,” NetJets said in a statement. “NetJets supports an amendment to the FAA Reauthorization bill that would impose an age restriction for pilots of large, private air carriers that is similar to the restriction that currently exists for commercial airlines. Such a restriction is an important safety measure for private carriers whose flight operations are comparable in size and complexity to their commercial counterparts. We hold passenger safety as our highest priority and we look forward to working with Congress on this common-sense regulation that will make air travel safer for everyone.”

© 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.

BNSF Proposes Idaho Bridge Project

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BNSF Railway is looking to build a second rail line over Lake Pend Oreille in Sandpoint, Idaho to reduce congestion on the current one-lane bridge.

The bridge would be adjacent to the existing rail bridge, and the project also includes new bridges over Sand Creek and Bridge Street in Sandpoint.

In Sandpoint, BNSF’s mainline track merges with Montana Rail Link, creating a bottleneck of multiple tracks merging into a single track across Lake Pend Oreille.

Since only one train can cross at a time, trains are often staged, leaving them idling and blocking local roadways while waiting to cross.

The upgrade will reduce congestion, and help move current freight traffic and future volumes more efficiently.

The bridge will also benefit passenger trains that run on BNSF’s main line.

When the second bridge is completed, trains will run in both directions, reducing the need to idle while waiting to cross the existing single track. As a result, local drivers could see shorter wait times on nearby roads that cross BNSF tracks, and the flow of freight and passenger trains will be improved throughout the region.

© 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.

TE Wire & Cable Partners With Plataine

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Berkshire Hathaway’s TE Wire & Cable, the world’s largest manufacturer of thermocouple wire, and Plataine, a leading provider of Industrial IoT and AI-based optimization software for advanced manufacturing, have announced a partnership for Smart Thermocouple solutions. Plataine’s IoT-based AI software tracks and analyzes the location, status and duty cycles of TE Wire & Cable’s thermocouples, enabling thermocouple users to view analytics, receive actionable alerts, insights and optimized recommendations.

TE Wire thermocouples are connected to Plataine’s software via a simple hardware infrastructure based on RFID tags and engraved barcodes. Plataine’s software monitors TE Wire’s thermocouples’ location, status and duty-cycles to provide automated real-time alerts & recommendations to optimize thermocouple calibration, refurbishment or replacement. The Plataine/TE Wire joint solution improves quality compliance, reduces the risk of using thermocouples that are no longer fit for purpose and eliminates manual tracking processes and production delays. A dedicated webpage allows users to plan ahead for efficient thermocouple utilization.

Plataine’s solution is scalable, helping manufacturers go further in their Digital Journey, track and optimize all assets including raw materials, tools, work-in-progress and finished parts. Plataine weaves a web of Digital Threads from raw-material to end-product, allowing thermocouples to be paired to molds and parts for full traceability in the event of quality issues or audits.

Combining Complementary Technologies

Bob Canny, President at TE Wire & Cable says: “Combining TE Wire & Cable and Plataine’s technologies enables our customers to extract additional value from their thermocouples and enter the era of Industry 4.0. For our customers, this will result in increased efficiencies and cost savings in their autoclave manufacturing operations.”

Avner Ben-Bassat, President & CEO at Plataine adds: “We are proud and excited to partner with TE Wire & Cable, jointly bringing to market the ‘Smart Thermocouple’ concept and revolutionizing a critical area of production, previously subject to manual data entry, lack of visibility and quality risks.”

TE Wire & Cable is a Marmon Wire & Cable/Berkshire Hathaway Company.

© 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 to Get into EV Charging Station Business

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Nevada, a state with lots of wide-open spaces, is looking to reduce range anxiety for electric vehicle owners.

Nevada’s Public Utility Commission has given the go ahead to NV Energy to own and operate EV charging stations.

The move is part of Nevada’s Strategic Planning Framework, which has the objective of completing an “electric highway” system serving the entire state by 2020.

NV Energy will commit $15 million to develop the charging stations.

The Nevada Governor’s Office of Energy (GOE), Nevada Department of Transportation (NDO) and Nevada’s electric utilities are expanding the state’s charging infrastructure to support EV deployment by internally connecting the state’s urban centers and providing corridor connectivity to the surrounding region.

Phase I will build charging stations on U.S. Highway 95. This first phase connects Reno and Las Vegas and eliminates range anxiety for EV owners while also bringing business to local communities.

The first two operational charging stations on U.S. 95 are located in Valley Electric Association’s service territory, at Eddie World in Beatty and in NV Energy’s service territory, at Fox Peak Gas Station in Fallon.

Charging stations are currently under development with NDOT in Hawthorne and Tonopah.

Phase II will include U.S. Interstate 15, U.S. Interstate 80, U.S. Highway 93, and U.S. Highway 50.

Electric Vehicle Charging Stations are placed at cost-effective and strategic locations along the Nevada’s major transportation corridors.

Each station is comprised of a minimum of one Direct Current Fast Charger and two Level 2 Chargers. Direct Current (DC) Fast Chargers can charge a vehicle in less than an hour; Level 2 chargers typically require several hours for a full charge.

© 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.

PacifiCorp Looks to Wind to Power Expanded Capacity

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PacifiCorp is looking to wind power and solar to meet future power needs, and will not be adding any new natural gas resources through the 20-year planning horizon.

This is the first time an Integrated Resource Plan has not included new fossil-fueled generation as a least-cost, least-risk resource for PacifiCorp.

The plan provides a framework for future actions that PacifiCorp will take to provide reliable and reasonably priced service for its customers through the least-cost, least-risk resource portfolio.

The plan includes 1,311 MW of new wind power, repowering just over 999 MW of existing wind capacity, and the new 140-mile, 500 kilovolt (kV) Aeolus-to-Bridger/Anticline transmission line in Wyoming.

Collectively, these resources contribute to meeting the capacity need identified in PacifiCorp’s updated load-and-resource balance and are on track to be in service by the end of 2020.

Through the end of 2036, the updated preferred portfolio includes over 2,700 MW of new wind resources, 1,860 MW of new solar resources, 1,877 MW of incremental energy efficiency resources, and approximately 268 MW of direct-load control resources.

© 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.

Warren Buffett Realistic on Autonomous Cars Negative Impact on Auto Insurers

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With GEICO Insurance one of Berkshire Hathaway’s biggest assets and moneymakers, the impact of autonomous vehicles on insurance rates will play a big role on future profitability in the auto insurance sector.

Clearly, Warren Buffett is realistic that a world with safer cars will mean declining rates.

While noting that replacement parts of cars are far more expensive than years ago, ultimately Buffett sees a decline in rates due to fewer collisions.

“…A safer car is going to bring lower insurance rates,” Buffett said while appearing on CNBC’s Squawk Box the Monday after Berkshire’s annual meeting. “There’s one some– there’s– modest offset to that in that, in terms of collision activity– the damage is done to a car by in terms of a bumper or a side rearview mirror something. Costs far more now, it’s a much more complex product. So the damage per accident, not human damage, but physical damage to the car, that will probably go up substantially. But the number of accidents won’t– you won’t see widespread adoption unless they’re safer. And we want a safer car. So it’s net, it will be bad for the auto insurance industry over time if autonomous cars become a big part of the fleet.”

Buffett also noted that the exact timeframe that autonomous vehicles will have a big impact on rates is hard to know, as there will still be a lot of nonautonomous vehicles on the road for years to come.

“Well, it– we don’t know, I mean, what it’ll be. And you’ve got 260 million cars on the road. Let’s just say that 10% of the people took up– autonomous cars in a year. Now you’re talking about– a million eight outta the 18 million. And– there’s– a big life cycle to it and all that. But what does best for the consumer and is safer over time really will prevail– over time,” Buffett said.

Currently, GEICO insures more than 24 million vehicles in the United States.

© 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.

Berkshire Hathaway Acquires WGC Crane Group

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Berkshire Hathaway has acquired WGC Crane Group. The acquisition becomes a newly-created subsidiary, Marmon Crane Australia, which is under Berkshire’s Marmon Group.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Based in Wollongong, the hitherto family-owned WGC Crane Group provides mobile crane rentals, crane operators, and related services from three depots in News South Wales to clients throughout NSW and other parts of eastern Australia. The company’s fleet includes a variety of mobile cranes used for industrial maintenance, construction, and other projects.

Berkshire’s Marmon Group is an international association of more than 125 autonomous manufacturing and service businesses with collective revenues of approximately US $7bn.

Marmon’s crane business originated with Sterling Crane in western Canada in 1954, which is headquartered in Edmonton, Alberta, and now has branch operations in twenty-four locations throughout Canada and the U.S.A. It is now one of the largest crane fleet operators in the world.

Other members of the Marmon group include Canada-based Procrane Sales, and Astha Sterling Crane in India.

In early 2012, Marmon acquired Freo Group, a leading provider of crane hire services in Australia. This latest acquisition, WGC Crane Group, will continue to operate under the WGC name, and former managers Marc Sergi and Rob McInnes will continue to lead the company with oversight by management of Freo Group.

“We are excited to welcome WGC and its employees to Marmon’s global portfolio of crane businesses,” said Marmon Crane Services president John Roberts. “WGC is a strong, successful company and we look forward to its continued growth.”

Freo Group CEO Tony Canci added: “With Freo’s strong presence in western Australia and now WGC in the east, our organization is well positioned to provide comprehensive, flexible, safe, and dependable lift services to clients in key growth areas throughout Australia.”

© 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

Advanced Energy Signs Distribution Agreement with Mouser Electronics

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Advanced Energy Industries, Inc., a global leader in precision power conversion, has signed a global distribution agreement with Berkshire Hathaway’s Mouser Electronics, Inc., the industry’s leading New Product Introduction (NPI) distributor with the widest selection of semiconductors and electronic components.

Advanced Energy (AE) will partner with Mouser to connect global customers with AE’s power portfolio, including high-voltage and thermal products.

Mouser Electronics is an award-winning, authorized semiconductor and electronic component distributor focused on rapid New Product Introductions from its manufacturing partners for electronic design engineers and buyers.

“This agreement will enhance the customer NPI experience and enable customers to access and source our power technology solutions 24/7,” said Greg Provenzano, senior vice president of sales and corporate marketing at Advanced Energy. “Mouser’s specialization in rapid introduction of new products to engineers and support for the design community in all stages of their design makes them a great partner for Advanced Energy as we expand our footprint in industrial applications worldwide.”

“This partnership with Advanced Energy bolsters our commitment to providing the latest products and technologies to our customers worldwide,” said Jeff Newell, Mouser Electronics’ senior vice president of products. “We look forward to providing engineers and buyers worldwide with AE’s innovative power solutions, backed by Mouser’s unsurpassed customer service and best-in-class logistics.”

Customers that require precision high voltage or temperature measurement and control solutions can now quickly and easily identify, select and order Advanced Energy specialty power products — including HiTek Power®, UltraVolt®, Onyx®, and Thyro product lines — to satisfy proof-of-concept testing and final production designs.

AE’s HiTek Power products offer a portfolio of high voltage and custom-built power conversion products ranging from 100V to 500kV designed to meet the demanding requirements of OEMs worldwide.

The high voltage UltraVolt line includes power supplies and modules ranging from benchtop and rack mount systems to microsize PCB-mount modules. Its standard DC-to-DC product line consists of over 1,500 models, which can be combined with accessories and options to create thousands of product configurations.

As part of AE’s thermal portfolio, the Onyx series of pyrometers, built specifically for the most demanding industrial applications, provide high accuracy, repeatability and reliability in optical temperature measurement. The series is ideally suited for a wide variety of industrial materials, such as steel, non-ferrous metals, graphites, silicon carbon (SiC), carbon fiber and ceramics during critical thermal processing.

AE’s thermal portfolio also includes digital SCR power control modules for electrical heating applications. The Thyro-Family of power controllers offer remarkable flexibility, exacting control accuracy and advanced automation capabilities for thermal processes across a broad range of industries worldwide. The complete series includes options from 8 to 2900 A, up to 690 V, single-, dual-, and three-phase, with a wide selection of communication interfaces.

© 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.