Monthly Archives: March 2019

Port of Stockton’s Record Numbers is Good News for BNSF

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The Port of Stockton has announced that 2018 was a second consecutive record-setting year. The record was good news for freight haulers BNSF Railway and Union Pacific, as well.

The Port of Stockton is an inland facility situated on a deep-water channel located in the extended San Francisco Bay Area. Operating since 1933, the Port of Stockton is the 4th largest port in California and handles dry bulk, breakbulk, liquid bulk, warehousing and project cargoes. Services include stevedoring, warehousing, inventory management and transloading.

The overall cargo volume was up slightly from the previous year reaching 4,739,249 metric tonnes (up 0.5% vs. 4,713,513 in 2017).

“In 2018, we saw our maritime tonnage grow for the third year running. During the same period, our tenant base set a new record for the second year in a row,” said Port Director, Richard Aschieris. “In the current climate of challenging international trade, these accomplishments are precedent setting and once again highlight the unique strengths of the Port of Stockton’s staff and facilities.”

Aschieris continued, “There are many factors contributing to our record growth. One is giving our customers speed to market. We facilitate customers getting their product moving as quickly as possible because we are centrally located, adjacent to less congested highways and uniquely offer a 24/7 gate for round-the-clock access to freight. The Port of Stockton is served by both the UP and BNSF railways and our labor force is experienced and flexible. Another strength is that clients have room to grow: we offer over 7 million square feet of existing warehouse space and another 600 acres for future development.”

“While 2018 was another record-setting year for us, we can’t rest on past successes. We must continue to look to the future as new projects are brought online,” stated Board of Commission Chair, Stephen Griffen. “We will continue to strengthen our infrastructure which will help us meet the needs of continued growth and capacity. We are confident that more companies will follow suit and use the Port of Stockton.”

“Our continued growth adds strength to the Stockton and San Joaquin County economies and helps to create jobs,” said Aschieris. “We believe we will increase employment opportunities in the area. The Port of Stockton supports 10,000 family-wage jobs. We made a strategic move to diversify our cargo base and began making focused investments in our infrastructure over 10 years ago. Combine that with the hard work of our labor forces and the results are new highs for the Port of Stockton.”

© 2019 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.

Dairy Queen Cheers Up Nation With Free Cone Day

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Can happiness be measured? Yes it can, if cool treats and sticky chins are involved. According to a national consumer survey* commissioned by American Dairy Queen Corporation (ADQ), 92.2 percent of Americans say a DQ® soft-serve cone would make them happy. The good news is that like the start of spring, DQ Free Cone Day is just around the corner.

On Wednesday, March 20, fans can enjoy a free small vanilla soft-serve cone with the signature curl on top (limit one per customer, while supplies last) at participating non-mall DQ® and DQ Grill & Chill® locations throughout the U.S.

“We love that our tradition of Free Cone Day has become synonymous with return of warmer weather and bringing people together,” said Maria Hokanson, Executive Vice President of Marketing at ADQ. “We know the start of soft-serve season brings joy to our fans, and we can’t wait to help spread smiles.”

The consumer survey also uncovered that:

• People are happier on Free Cone Day than they are on their own birthday.
• 61.6 percent would share a bite of their DQ cone with their significant other, but only 23 percent would share the first bite. (Rightfully so.)

Following Free Cone Day, DQ is offering a small regular or dipped soft serve cone for 50 cents, available for redemption only with the DQ mobile app, March 21-31 at participating DQ and DQ Grill & Chill locations. This offer includes the NEW DQ orange, creamy and crunchy dreamsicle dip, or try the DQ classic chocolate dip
.
Throughout the year on the DQ mobile app, fans will receive national weekly exclusive DQ deals on treats, food and beverages, redeemable only at participating DQ restaurants in the U.S., excluding Texas.

© 2019 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 Begins Construction On Its Newest Logistics Center

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BNSF Railway has announced that construction is underway on its newest logistics center, located in Hudson, Colorado, near Denver.

The Logistics Center Hudson is designed to help customers more easily reach Denver and surrounding markets through rail-served sites.

The 430-acre center — situated about 25 miles north of Denver International Airport and 30 miles northeast of downtown Denver — will feature 15 sites for customers that want to ship via individual rail cars and a unit-train site for customers that want to ship entire trainloads.

BNSF’s Logistics centers offer direct-rail service in multi-customer, multi-commodity business parks. BNSF differs from private business parks by investing directly in the development of the facility to create sites in under-served, strategic, and primarily end-user markets.

“Establishing logistics centers, including the one in Hudson, is the latest way we are working to make sure new, existing and potential customers who want to locate on rail in a densely populated, growing industrial market have the option to do so. By purchasing and developing land in advance, we can help our customers save time and money when they are looking to expand or relocate their facility,” said Colby Tanner, BNSF’s assistant vice president, economic development.

© 2019 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 Specialty Insurance Appoints Heads of Marine & Property in the UK and Ireland

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Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance (BHSI) has appointed Pedro Mairos as Head of Marine, and Sean Mannion as Head of Property, for the UK and Ireland.

“With Pedro and Sean leading our teams, we are bringing to market marine and property solutions built with deep local expertise, and grounded in stellar financial strength and claims service,” said Chris Colahan, Head of UK and Europe, BHSI. “Our new line of flexible marine products marks an important advance in providing broad, multi-line solutions for customers and brokers in the UK and Ireland.”

Pedro comes to BHSI with nearly two decades working in marine insurance around the globe. He was most recently UK Deputy Chief Underwriting Officer and Head of Marine Cargo Underwriting, UK Branch, at AXA Corporate Solutions. He also held marine insurance roles at Axa in Paris, Hong Kong and Dubai.

Sean takes the reins as Head of Property, UK and Ireland, with more than 35 years of industry experience. He was most recently Head of Property & Energy Lines, Commercial Insurance UK, at Zurich. Prior to that he was Senior Vice President and Global Property Executive at AIG UK. Sean is a Fellow of the Chartered Insurance Institute.

Pedro and Sean are based in BHSI’s office in London.

© 2019 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’s Springboard Announces Five More Companies It Hopes Will Shape the Future of Food

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Kraft Heinz’s Springboard, a brand innovation platform launched by the company in 2016 to nurture, scale, and accelerate growth of disruptive brands, has announced its second Incubator Program class.

The program was created to help nurture and develop the next generation of food & beverage brands, while staying close to entrepreneurs, new ideas and consumer trends.

The second Incubator class continues the vision and includes Blake’s Seed Based, BRAMI, Ka-Pop! Ancient inGRAINed Snack Co™, Origin Almond®, and Tiny Giants.

All Incubator teams fall strongly within at least one of the Springboard committed growth pillars: Natural & Organic, Specialty & Craft, Health & Performance, and Experiential brands. Over the course of the next 16 weeks, the selected startups will participate in a dynamic program composed of learning, funding, infrastructure access, and mentorship in Chicago, IL.

Springboard is also announcing the application period for the third incubator class is open now until June 14th for the fall program which will take place August 5th through November 22nd.

Keep an eye out for:

Growing up with a deathly nut-allergy, Founder, Blake Sorensen, was frustrated with the lack of allergen-free snack options on the market. So, he began to make bars in his kitchen, using seeds instead of nuts. Blake quickly realized people with and without food allergies enjoyed them. Blake’s Seed Based mission is to make seed based, Top 8 Allergen-Free snacks accessible to everyone. Blake’s Seed Based products are not only delicious and safe for most eat, but they also donate a bar to a school in need for every box purchased. All great reasons to try Blake’s today!
https://www.blakesseedbased.com/

In their Brooklyn test-kitchen, BRAMI reimagined lupini beans, a fresh legume snack beloved in the Mediterranean since Ancient Roman times. BRAMI beans are packed with plant protein and fiber with a fraction of the calories, carbs, fat and sugar of other snacks, so you can satisfy your hunger without compromising your diet. Marinated and packaged fresh out of the pickling barrel, BRAMI offers one of the few shelf-stable snacks that isn’t baked, dried or fried, and something totally differentiated to the growing functional snack category.
https://bramisnacks.com/

Ka-Pop! Ancient inGRAINed Snack Co™ has the mission to always be tasty, nutritious, and satisfying. Founder, Dustin, was tired of compromising taste for boring, empty, better for you snacks, so he created his own. Ka-Pop! is delicious and powered by ancient grains to bring fun and nutrition together. Ka-pop! wants you to save your snack time from boring “good for you” snacks that don’t deliver on taste and to replace those empty calories with protein, fiber, omega-3s, potassium, and vitamins. Take that regular snacks, and try Ka-Pop!
https://kapopsnacks.com/

Origin Almond® believes the first step to better health is the reduction of excess sugars, especially the hidden sugars found in perceived healthy foods such as fruit juices. Founder, Jake Deleon, had a unique solution: Juice almonds instead of sugary fruits! Origin Almond® uses cold-press technology to extract the liquid essence of almonds. This Cold-Pressed Almond Juice offers the fresh & lightly sweetened taste of premium fruit juices minus the excess sugar & carbs. Each flavor contains as low as 1g of sugar per bottle and is infused with a rainbow of superfoods and adaptogens to provide added functional benefits. Love juice again with Origin Almond® and see why almonds make for better juice! Origin Almond® is a certified Minority Business Enterprise (MBE).
https://www.originalmond.com/

Danielle Calabrese, mom of two and CPG entrepreneur, enlisted help from friend and Chef, Gregg Drusinsky to create a delicious and sustainable plant based snack brand for future-forward kids and parents. Together, they built a fun and empowering brand to fuel the superheroes of tomorrow. Their first product is a plant based yogurt that is certified organic and non GMO with no added sweeteners. Tiny Giants believes that healthy bellies equals happy kids and they are on a mission to change the way kids snack.
https://tinygiantsfood.com/#shopify-section-1534600654784

“We had an incredibly competitive group of applicants. All five companies in our second Incubator class offer delicious products that cater to the better-for-you offerings consumers are demanding,” said Kelly Reinke, Springboard Incubator Lead. “Springboard exists to help shape the future of food, and we are confident our next class does just that.”

© 2019 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.

Special Report: Will BYD’s SkyRail Save Los Angeles Tens of Billions in Mass Transit Construction Costs?

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China’s BYD, a world leader and pioneer in battery and zero-emission vehicles, has proposed building its SkyRail monorail to ease congestion in one of Los Angeles’s busiest and most congested freeway corridors.

Is this the one proposal that could save Los Angeles billions in construction costs and shave decades off the construction timeline? It just may be.

It’s not just speculation. The idea is already under consideration. BYD’s SkyRail proposal is one of LA Metro’s four new refined concepts for the Sepulveda Transit Corridor.

The goal is to create a high-capacity transit line between the San Fernando Valley and the Westside through the Sepulveda Pass that would move some 100,000 people a day off the I-405 Freeway, which is already ranked as one of the most traveled urban highways in the nation.

According to LA Metro, over 400,000 people currently travel through this area every day to commute to work, school, and other destinations along the freeway and beyond.

LA Metro’s four concepts include three standard rail projects, similar to its current Red Line subway, and would either be underground or a combination of underground and above ground, and BYD’s SkyRail Monorail.

The Sepulveda Transit Corridor project would link San Fernando Valley and LAX, including connections to existing and planned Metro bus and rail lines, including the Orange, Purple, and Expo Lines, and is part of the Measure M expenditure plan, with approximately $5.7 billion for new transit service to connect the San Fernando Valley and the Westside, which is scheduled to open by 2035.

Passed in November 2016, Measure M is a voter approved countywide half-cent sales tax increase, which funds a $120 billion mass transit expansion plan.

Approximately $3.8 billion is already allocated to extend that service from the Westside to LAX with a 2057 opening date.

The Elephant in the Room

With public transit, the two biggest factors are always cost and time of construction. Certainly the biggest factor in LA’s case is cost. The standard heavy rail projects would cost tens of billions.

For example, LA’s currently under construction 9-mile Purple extension of the underground rail system that runs from the current Wilshire/Western station is budgeted at $8.2 billion and will take to decades to build.

The project broke ground in November 2014 and is not scheduled to be fully completed until 2035.

However, unlike a subway, BYD is proposing to build its SKY Rail monorail, which would run in a corridor down the middle of the I-405 freeway, saving billions in tunneling costs and environmental concerns.

SkyRail would be a fully integrated, driverless, state-of-the-art straddle type monorail that is far advanced from the monorails people are familiar with at theme parks such as Disney World and Disneyland.

Most importantly, BYD notes that its SkyRail is only one fifth the cost of a subway, and using BYD’s prefabricated track beams can in some cases mean a construction schedule as short as 2 years. That’s not to say LA’s system would be built that fast, but it certainly wouldn’t take decades.

As a public transit alternative to subways, BYD’s SkyRail delivers numerous benefits, including: capital expenditure 80% lower than subways, a construction period two-thirds shorter than subways, excellent topographic adaptability due to higher climbing ability and smaller turning radius, reduced noise to allow travel through architectural complexes, visual integration into the cityscape thanks to transparent bridges and independent right of way, flexible management to allow for capacity between 10,000 to 30,000 passengers an hour (each way) and a high speed of up to 80km/h.

The company notes that SkyRail is an effective complement to large cities’ subway networks, and BYD already has construction contracts in China for Shenzhen, Shantou, Xi’an, Bengbu, Guang’an, Jilin, Tianjin, and others.

Not Just a Concept

BYD put its first SkyRail in service in 2016 with a 5.4-kilometer trial line that connects BYD’s headquarters in Shenzhen with a nearby high-speed railway station.

BYD has landed contracts to build SkyRails outside of China, as well.

BYD is set to construct its first Latin American monorail in the Brazilian city of Salvador. Construction will commence in 2019 with the goal of being operational by 2021.

Like the LA proposal, the system will integrate with other mass transit. Salvador’s SkyRail will move a projected 15,000 passengers a day, connecting them to the public metro network that currently serves over 2.9 million people.

Will SkyRail be the choice of LA Metro? We will know more in roughly six months, as the 20-month study is expected to conclude by fall 2019.

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.

© 2019 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.

Todd Combs and Ted Weschler’s Portfolios Continue to Grow

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Todd Combs and Ted Weschler, the former hedge fund managers that Warren Buffett hired to manage a portion of Berkshire Hathaway’s stock portfolios, have continued to see their portfolios grow.

Combs was hired in 2010, and Weschler was hired in 2011, and each was initially given a billion dollar portfolio to separately manage. Over the past five years, Buffett has increased their portfolios as he has grown confident in their abilities. The portfolios have now reached $13 billion each, according to Buffett’s recent comment on CNBC.

Warren Buffett says Berkshire stock managers Weschler, Combs have trailed the S&P 500 from CNBC.

Berkshire’s total stock holdings total a whopping $183 billion, according to its most recent 13-F filing.

As Warren Buffett’s handpicked protégés, Buffett has praised their success, noting that “They have made Berkshire billions already that we wouldn’t have otherwise made,” he said on CNBC in 2014. “They both have a fundamental combination of soundness and brilliance.”

While Buffett notes that this past year “Overall, they are a tiny bit behind the S&P, each, by almost the same margin,” Buffett acknowledged to Becky Quick on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” that they were still doing better than he was.

More than Just Portfolio Managers

In addition to portfolio management, Combs sits on the Boards of companies that Berkshire holds sizable stakes in. Combs is on the Board of JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Paytm, and he also is playing a key role in the Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and J.P. Morgan Chase healthcare joint venture, having been charged with finding the project’s CEO.

It was also Combs’s belief in aerospace manufacturer Precision Castparts that directly led to Buffett’s $32 billion acquisition of the company.

“You have to give Todd Combs credit for the deal,” Buffett said, noting that he had never heard of the company before Combs brought it to his attention. ”Todd told me a lot about it, and over the last few years I have become familiar with it,” he added.

Another winner was Combs and Weschler’s positions in DirecTV in 2014. The satellite broadcaster’s acquisition by AT&T brought an over $3 billion windfall for Berkshire, as its 4.5 million shares were purchased at roughly half the tender price of $95 per share offered by AT&T.

When the day come that the entire Berkshire portfolio is in Todd Combs and Ted Weschler’s hands, Berkshire’s shareholders will be able to sleep well at night knowing it is well-managed.

© 2019 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 Insurance Group Creates Berkshire Hathaway European Insurance DAC

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Berkshire Hathaway Insurance Group has announced that Berkshire Hathaway European Insurance DAC (BHEI) has been granted a Certificate of Authorization by the Central Bank of Ireland to operate as an insurer in Ireland and the European Economic Area (EEA).

Incorporated in the Republic of Ireland and based in Dublin, BHEI will operate as a Designated Activity Company, providing service to the company’s customers and brokers in Ireland and, using European freedom of services rights, across the EEA.

BHEI will be the insurance company utilized by a number of Berkshire Hathaway’s insurance brands operating in the EEA, including Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance, MedPro, and Faraday.

Where necessary or required, EEA business previously transacted through BHEI’s UK based direct parent Berkshire Hathaway International Insurance Limited (BHIIL) will be transferred from BHIIL to BHEI, in accordance with applicable law, to achieve a smooth transition for its customers and brokers upon the UK leaving the European Union. BHIIL, however, will continue to operate its significant general insurance business in the UK market and overseas under its existing licenses. BHEI intends to commence writing business by the end of March 2019.

© 2019 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.

Keller Williams Realty Tacoma Team Joins Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices

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Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, part of the HSF Affiliates LLC family of real estate brokerage franchise networks, has announced that a top-producing real estate team from Keller Williams Realty Tacoma, has joined its network and formed a brokerage. The team now operates as Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices South Sound Properties, specializing in new-home sales.

South Sound Properties, which represents homebuilders in Pierce and Thurston counties, is owned and operated by Gary and Pam Hendrickson. The brokerage joins one of America’s fastest-growing real estate brokerage networks now counting nearly 50,000 agents and 1,450+ offices in just over five years as a brand.

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Chairman Gino Blefari welcomed South Sound Properties to the brand.

“This company is by no means a startup operation,” said Blefari. “Gary is so well respected among local homebuilders and the team he and Pam have assembled brings a wonderful mix of experience, skill, diversity and enthusiasm. Their success in new-home sales and the trust they’ve established among builders and real estate consumers will keep South Sound Properties growing for years.”

“We wanted to form our own brokerage for some time and considered many brand options,” said Gary Hendrickson. “We chose Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices for its name appeal and lineage, and for its philosophy on growth. The brand chooses network members who want to grow, and it supports them with top-quality tools and resources. South Sound Properties is ready to grow from the start.”

With a new-home sales dream team in place, Gary Hendrickson said he will build an existing-home sales operation by recruiting top, local agents. Broker Michael Dattilo, with extensive experience in new- and existing-home sales, has already joined the brokerage.

As part of their network membership, South Sound Properties agents gain access to Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices’ Global Network Platform, a powerful tool suite driving lead generation, marketing support, social media, video production/distribution and more. In addition, the network provides global listing syndication, relocation referrals, professional education and the exclusive Luxury Collection marketing program for high-end listings.

South Sound Properties also joins Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices’ active client-referral and relocation networks.

“Fellow network members operate across America and in Berlin, Germany; London, England; Milan, Italy and other regions,” said Pam Hendrickson. “We look forward to additional business through these channels and for the global exposure our listings will receive through our network and its listing-syndication programs.”

© 2019 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.