Monthly Archives: April 2019

Commentary: Race Between Tesla and BYD Not Going Well for Tesla

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If there ever were two companies on a collision course for investors dollars it’s Tesla and China’s BYD (Build Your Dreams), a world leader and pioneer in battery and zero-emission vehicles.

Both companies have staked their claim as the leaders in the electrification of everything from cars to forklifts, and both companies have intrigued investors looking for explosive growth on the manufacturing side of investing.

Unfortunately, for Tesla, which lost $702 million in its first quarter and is already looking towards another capital raise in the $2.5 billion range to keep the battery-powered lights on, its overseas competitor is making money.

Lots of money.

BYD has announced that its first quarter profit skyrocketed 632 percent to 749.73 million yuan (US$111.4 million).

In the race to become number one in electric cars, BYD’s already firmly in the lead.

While US investors may pay more attention to Tesla’s US sale figures (increasingly nervously), BYD is number one in the biggest electric vehicle market in the world, China.

“New energy vehicles are expected to continue to sell well in the second quarter, and new energy vehicle sales and revenues continue to maintain strong growth,” noted BYD in its stock exchange filing.

BYD is looking even further down the road, and just signed an agreement with the city government of Changzhou city government for its fourth car factory, which will produce some 400,000 electric cars annually.

Not Just Cars, Buses

While you don’t see any BYD cars on US highways, you do see an increasing number of BYD pure electric buses. The company has made huge headway since it opened an assembly plant in Lancaster, California in 2013, and recently produced its 300th bus.

Worldwide, BYD dominates the market and has produced over 50,000 pure electric buses in just nine years.

As for the battle of the lithium-ion battery, Tesla’s Gigafactories are going head-to-head with BYD’s factories for the production crown, and for now BYD has the world’s largest.

Located in the western province of Qinghai, BYD’s 24GWh power battery factory is aiming to increase total production capacity to 60GWh by 2020. And it has the advantage that Qinghai province is a major source of lithium.

The Qinghai plant is BYD’s third battery factory in China after Shenzhen and Huizhou, and the company is constructing a fourth plant in Chongqing, which will have an annual capacity of 20 GWh.

“Electrification is a done deal as several countries have announced a deadline for the sale of internal combustion engine cars to end. Electric vehicles are on the cusp of another boom,” said BYD President and Chairman Wang Chuanfu, at the time of the Qinghai plant’s opening.

The question is whether BYD’s race with Tesla is a “done deal” as well.

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 BYD, 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.

Pilot Flying J Out to Hire 5,000 Workers

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Pilot Flying J, the largest travel center network in North America, has announced its first-ever National Hiring Day on May 2 – the largest in-person and virtual hiring event in the company’s history.

Gearing up for the influx of travelers this summer, the company aims to hire more than 5,000 new team members across its network of more than 750 travel centers in the U.S. and Canada. Pilot Flying J invites job seekers to experience and explore what it means to be part of the Pilot Flying J team with on-the-spot in-person and virtual interviews.

“Making the decision to start a career at Pilot Flying J provides the opportunity to work hard, have fun and live up to one’s full potential, while also advancing professionally,” said Paul Shore, chief people officer of Pilot Flying J. “Hiring 5,000 enthusiastic team members to join our company in a wide array of positions across North America is an exciting challenge, especially during a time of low unemployment. To help candidates get a feel for our values and culture, learn about the great benefits we offer and find the right job opportunity, we can’t rely on standard outreach. That’s why we’re inviting everyone to join us on National Hiring Day.”

Berkshire Hathaway and Pilot Flying J

In October 2017, Berkshire Hathaway made a $2.76 billion investment in Pilot Travel Centers. Under the terms of the agreement, Berkshire will become the majority owner in five years.

© 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.

Feeling Adventurous? Berkshire Hathaway Has Insurance For You

If you’ve got the adrenaline, Berkshire Hathaway has the insurance for your adventures.

Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection (BHTP), a leading provider of travel insurance, has announced the launch of AdrenalineCare, a new comprehensive travel insurance that is specifically tailored for adventure travelers, with features such as enhanced baggage protection, coverage for extreme activities and higher medical limits
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“Our annual State of Travel Insurance study found that adventure travel continues to be one of the most popular and fastest-growing travel types,” said Dean Sivley, president of BHTP. “Adventure travelers are eager to explore the world but also know that their adrenaline-packed trips warrant more protection. We created AdrenalineCare so they can fully enjoy their adventures without worrying about equipment delays or insufficient medical coverage if traveling in a remote location.”

AdrenalineCare coverage includes:

• Up to $750,000 in medical evacuation coverage, BHTP’s highest limits
• Up to $50,000 in emergency travel medical insurance
• Up to $500 in equipment delay coverage if the traveler’s sports equipment such as skis, scuba gear, mountain climbing equipment or other gear is delayed 6 hours or longer
• Up to $1,500 in baggage coverage to cover lost, stolen or damaged luggage
• A $150 fixed benefit for the inconvenience if baggage is delayed 12 or more hours; if eligible, travelers are awarded the full $150 to use as they wish for simply enduring the delay
• Up to $200 to reimburse the fee paid for a hunting or fishing license if the insured must cancel
• Comprehensive trip cancellation, interruption, delay, and missed connection protection
• 24/7 global travel assistance available via phone or email for travel and medical emergencies.

According to BHTP’s State of Travel Insurance 2019 report, adventure travelers take more trips than regular road trippers (4.87 annually versus 3.45). Whether they are traveling to experience a sport like motor racing, or packing expensive equipment to ski or climb, they also face greater risk. AdrenalineCare is tailored specifically for these adventurous travelers.

Well-known for its revolutionary travel insurance products and services, BHTP also provides travelers with an easy “pic-and-a-click” claims process, flight tracking and expedited payments for travel disruptions via BHTP Burst.

© 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.

Lubrizol’s Diamond Dispersions Business Wins Queen’s Award for International Trade

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The Lubrizol Corporation has announced its Sheffield, UK-based Diamond Dispersions business has won the Queen’s Award for International Trade for outstanding short-term growth.

The award was presented for growth in overseas sales over the last three years.

Since 1966, the Queen’s Award for Enterprise recognizes British businesses that excel in four categories, including International Trade, Innovation, Sustainable Development and Promoting Opportunity. It is the highest official UK awards program.

Diamond Dispersions, which manufactures color concentrates used in the manufacture of inkjet inks, mainly for the digital printing of textiles, is no stranger to this accolade having previously won the Queen’s Award for International Trade in 2012. Overseas sales have more than doubled over the past three years, and the proportion of sales exported has increased to over 80% of total sales.

“We couldn’t be prouder to receive recognition for our continued efforts and commitment to grow the company in such a prestigious way”, says Keith Malone, commercial manager, Diamond Dispersions. “The Queen’s Award is an honor that is admired across the globe, not just in the UK – and it deeply matters to every one of us at Diamond Dispersions.”

“Over the last few years, our strategic planning has driven us to work more closely with print machine manufacturers (OEMS), enabling them to develop bespoke ink products,” shares Andrew Grantham, marketing manager, Diamond Dispersions. “The closer relationships we’ve built have been a key driver to our sales growth over the last three years.”

Diamond Dispersions has responded effectively to the rapidly growing digital print market by supporting customers as they seek to deliver customization, shorter print runs, just-in-time manufacturing and a desire for reduced stocks and wastage.

“We’ve also developed specific products for use in the pigmented digital textile printing market, which has huge potential for growth, “adds Grantham. “Pigment-based digital printing of cotton textiles, in particular, is much more environmentally friendly than dye-based printing as it requires less energy and water and eliminates waste-water effluent.”

“Ever since Diamond Dispersions was established in 2007, we have taken every opportunity to further improve and enhance our customer service,” concludes Grantham. “For example, to better serve customers locally and achieve the response times demanded by those customers, last year we made the decision to hold stock in several different countries including China, the US, India and Brazil.”

“The Queen’s Award is a great achievement and our whole team is justifiably very proud of the award,” shares Charles Nelson, general manager, Diamond Dispersions. “Lubrizol is planning further investments in the business to ensure we keep pace with growing demand.”

Diamond Dispersions will celebrate the award during a royal reception for Queen’s Awards’ winners in Summer 2019 and will host its own celebration in Sheffield in Autumn.

© 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 Carloads Continue to Lag 2019 Levels

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BNSF Railway’s carloads for 2019 have continued their downward trend as compared to 2018. The decline is due in part to a major decrease in coal shipments.

Coal shipments as of the week ending April 13, 2019, are down 10.25% over the same period last year, and combined intermodal and carloads numbers are down 5.15% in the aggregate.

Also, showing weaker numbers are grain shipments, which are down 12.85%, and shipments of motor vehicles are down 5.51%.

2018 was a strong year for BNSF, with the combined carloads including intermodal up 4.03% over 2017, however 2019’s numbers have been hurt by weak global demand for coal and severe flooding in the Midwest that has closed some routes and slowed others.

© 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.

Bernardo Hees Out, Miguel Patricio In As Kraft Heinz CEO

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The Kraft Heinz Company has announced that the Company’s Board of Directors has appointed Miguel Patricio as Chief Executive Officer effective July 1, 2019.

Mr. Patricio will succeed Bernardo Hees, who will remain CEO through June 30, 2019, to ensure a seamless transition.

“Miguel is a proven business leader with a distinguished track record of building iconic consumer brands around the globe, driving top-line revenue growth through a focus on consumer-first marketing, innovation, and people development,” said Alex Behring, Chairman of Kraft Heinz’s Board of Directors.

“I want to personally thank Bernardo Hees for leading the Company through its first phase,” said Marcel Herrmann Telles, a member of Kraft Heinz’s Board of Directors. “I’ve worked with Miguel over the course of the past 20 years, and he is a natural business leader. From attracting and nurturing the best talent to leading the turnaround of the AB InBev China business into the phenomenal success it is today, Miguel has one of the best brand-building minds in the industry.”

A native of Portugal, Mr. Patricio will join the Company after a successful career spanning two decades at Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev), where he served as part of the Executive Leadership team in various positions, driving organic growth and industry-leading margins.

At AB InBev, Mr. Patricio served as the Global Chief Marketing Officer from 2012 to 2018. In this role, he helped develop and implement a strategic playbook for global brands Corona, Budweiser and Stella Artois, accelerating organic sales growth to high single digits. This represented more than one-third of AB InBev’s organic growth and accounted for more than 20 percent of AB InBev’s 2018 year-end global revenues. In his final year as chief marketer, AB InBev was the most awarded brand owner at Cannes Lions 2018, the global benchmark for effective creative marketing communications.

Prior to that, he was AB InBev’s President of Asia Pacific from 2008 to 2012 and President of North America from 2006 to 2008, providing him with deep experience in growing businesses in developed and emerging markets.

As President of Asia Pacific, Mr. Patricio set the foundation for the growth of the China business by defining a long-term strategy focusing on the premium market, growing Budweiser to become the leading brand in China, and expanding the growth of local brands such as Harbin. This led to the transformation of AB InBev Asia Pacific, which grew from revenues of $1 billion in 2008 to $2.7 billion in 2012, making it the number one beer company in China. Asia Pacific now represents approximately 15 percent of the company’s global revenue and 18 percent of global volumes.

Prior to AB InBev, Mr. Patricio has worked at other consumer companies including Philip Morris, The Coca-Cola Company and Johnson & Johnson in Latin America, New Jersey, and Georgia.

“Kraft Heinz is an incredible company with iconic brands that are loved around the world,” Mr. Patricio said. “It will be a privilege and an honor to lead such a talented group of employees as we focus on the consumer to capitalize on the growth opportunities that exist in the rapidly evolving food industry.”

“I would like to thank Bernardo personally, and on behalf of the Board, for his many contributions to Kraft Heinz over the last six years,” Mr. Behring added. “He helped transform the food industry by leading the acquisition of Heinz in 2013 and the merger of Kraft and Heinz in 2015. Under Bernardo’s tenure, Kraft Heinz achieved industry-leading margins and sales performance in line with its U.S. peers, developed an organization with best-in-industry quality standards, and built in-house capabilities for category management, including revenue and assortment management. We appreciate his contributions.”

“It has been an honor to serve as CEO of Kraft Heinz and to see it through its transformation over the last six years,” said Mr. Hees. “I have confidence that Miguel and the team will take Kraft Heinz to new heights.”

© 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

NV Energy Battles to Keep Large Customers

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Working to stem the tide of defections of some its largest customers, Berkshire Hathaway’s NV Energy has received approval for a new rate structure that gives lower rates to large energy users.

NV Energy says it has had an “impressive response” to its proposed “NV Energy Optional Pricing Program Rate” that allows eligible large energy users to pay a rate derived from low-cost, Nevada-based solar resources.

Twenty-six large customers from both northern and southern Nevada have formally submitted their interest in the program. The customers include several government, education and other public entities, as well as gaming companies and heavy industrial users.

The pricing option will reduce the cost most eligible commercial customers pay for electric service while NV Energy retains the renewable energy credits in order to comply with Nevada’s renewable portfolio standard for the benefit of all customers.

The company declined to provide names of interested entities to protect customer privacy, however the City of Las Vegas is likely to be one of the entities, as Tenaska, the Omaha-based power provider that a provides electric service to MGM Resorts and Caesars Resorts, has withdrawn its bid to serve the city.

The “open window period” will remain open while the company undergoes a robust documentation process to validate the first-in-time, first-in-right priority order.

© 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 HomeServices New Jersey Properties Acquires Sea Girt and Shrewsbury Offices of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Signature Properties

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Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New Jersey Properties has announced that they have expanded their market service areas in Monmouth and Ocean counties by acquiring the Sea Girt and Shrewsbury offices of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Signature Properties. With this acquisition, the company now has five Monmouth County offices and 21 in total in Northern and Central New Jersey.

“We are thrilled to align ourselves with the outstanding management and sales teams of the Sea Girt and Shrewsbury offices of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Signature Properties,” according to William O. Keleher, Jr., chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New Jersey Properties. “Additionally, Bret Violette, former owner and broker-of-record, will continue to support the Sea Girt and Shrewsbury offices while also working closely with our management team, focusing his talents in many ways to assist us in the continued growth of our company.”

“By bringing a higher level of support and corporate services to our new Monmouth County offices, we are certain that we will create better opportunities for our sales associates and in turn, a more powerful value proposition for our clients,” states Christopher Brown, president and general sales manager of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New Jersey Properties.

© 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.

Real Living Leads Industry with Highest Customer Satisfaction, Again

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Allan Dalton, CEO, Real Living Real Estate, has announced that Real Living, the first national franchisor that gave clients the power to grade their customer service, received a 98% customer satisfaction rating for 2018, according to independent ratings service Quality Service Certification, Inc. (QSC). This is the second consecutive year that the Real Living Real Estate network placed well above the industry for customer satisfaction.

Through Real Living’s innovative Real Living 360 Service® program, network members ask customers to candidly rate the performance of their sales agent. QSC administers and validates these customer service satisfaction results following closed transactions for participating agents. Nearly 7,000 buyers and sellers were surveyed to measure the satisfaction of Real Living Real Estate network customers.

“It’s no surprise that the Real Living network scores so well,” said Allan Dalton, CEO, Real Living Real Estate. “Our Real Living network Lifestyle Advisors are well qualified to meet the unique needs of their customers.” Dalton added, “This distinction, plus our customized approach, puts our brand above the rest as demonstrated by the excellent results of this survey.”

In the results, a full 94% of home buyers and 91% of home sellers who worked with Real Living network sales associates reported being “very satisfied” with the results and service provided by their Real Living network real estate professional. According to the latest report from the National Association of REALTORS®, only 62% of buyers and 64% of sellers said they were very satisfied with the buying process and service provided by their real estate professional.

The survey also found that 97% of Real Living network customers surveyed said they would likely use the same sales professional in the future and would recommend the same professional to a relative or friend.

Chris Stuart, CEO, HSF Affiliates, congratulated the Real Living network for its QSC scores. “I’m so proud of our network of professionals for achieving these impressive results time after time.” Stuart added, “This record-high 98% satisfaction rating speaks to the passion and dedication of the network to provide only the very best in customer care.”

© 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.

Intero Names New CEO

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Intero, a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate and wholly owned subsidiary of HomeServices of America, Inc., today announced that Brian Crane has been promoted to the role of chief executive officer and John Thompson has been named president of company.

One of the original founders of the company, Crane is a real estate veteran whose decisive leadership and collaborative approach have been integral to the year-over-year growth for which Intero is best known.

Over the course of his 17-year career at Intero, Crane has held a number of positions and most recently served as Senior Vice President of Strategic Relationships and manager of the Los Gatos office.

Also, effective immediately, John Thompson will take on the role of president and report to Brian. A founding member and former owner of the company, John has led Intero’s strategic planning and growth initiatives, as well as managed its day-to-day operations. Most recently, John was Chief Culture Officer and before that he managed the Los Altos office.

“I am humbled and honored by this promotion,” said Crane. “I look forward to leading Intero to new levels of growth and performance with the best and brightest professionals in the business – our outstanding agents, experienced leadership team and talented employees.”

“Brian and I have worked together since we founded the company,” said Thompson. “He has a deep understanding of the real estate business and I couldn’t be more excited to be playing a key role in this transition.”

“Brian and John make a great team,” said Gino Blefari, CEO of HomeServices. “I am confident that their extensive experience, fresh perspective and exceptional leadership qualities will help guide Intero into the future and position the agents for even greater success.”

“Brian and John are the right leaders to ensure that Intero is well-positioned for future growth,” added Ron Peltier, HomeServices’ executive chairman. “On behalf of HomeServices, we look forward to working with them in the months and years to come.”

© 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.