Monthly Archives: December 2019

Defense Authorization Act Threatens BYD’s U.S. E-Bus Sales

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China’s BYD could find its growing presence as a supplier of eBuses in the United States cut short if the current version of the National Defense Authorization Act become law.

The NDAA contains a key provision barring federal dollars from being used to purchase passenger rail cars or buses from state-owned or state-controlled enterprises, including BYD, which assembles its buses at its plant in Lancaster, California.

The plant employs some 750 workers, and was recently scheduled for expansion.

Proponents of the bill cite cybersecurity concerns.

BYD has been receiving an increasing number of large order for its eBuses from municipalities, including 130 of its eBuses that were ordered by LADOT for Los Angeles’ “Green New Deal” program, which aims to have the entire LADOT fleet be run with zero-emission buses before 2030.

BYD has already sold 460 eBuses in Southern California alone, and if the NDAA is enacted in its current form the company would be immediately banned from selling to Washington, DC’s Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro). The bill bans both buses and railcars.

“BYD’s electric vehicles are increasingly popular with municipalities, airports and other customers across the United States, and we will work to redouble our sales and continue deliveries of high-quality vehicles to our customers,” BYD said in a statement. “This unfortunate decision rewards a special interest misinformation campaign to squash competition in the electric bus sector and could weaken American competitiveness, threaten hundreds of union jobs and undercut our country’s fight against climate change.”

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.

Intero Introduces a Designer-Curated Home Preparation Service with No Upfront Costs

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Berkshire Hathaway’s real estate brand, Intero, a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate and wholly owned subsidiary of HomeServices of America, Inc. has introduced PINNACLE, a premium designer-curated home preparation service with zero out-of-pocket cost to sellers until their home closes escrow.

Available for clients working with an Intero agent, PINNACLE provides vast, customized home-preparation options, including, but not limited to, cosmetic updates, general repairs, professional staging services, window treatments, landscaping, decluttering and moving and packing services.

Sellers who opt into Intero’s PINNACLE program will interface with their own project coordinator. These project coordinators do the work of assessing what needs to be done, and coordinate the job from start to finish with local contractors. The program also stands out for providing tailored relocation services to seniors who need additional support when moving.

“We’re proud to bring the PINNACLE program to the market,” said Brian Crane, Chief Executive Officer of Intero. “The PINNACLE program gives Intero agents and clients a progressive and effective tool to enhance the condition of the home prior to going to the market, without the upfront out-of-pocket expense. This PINNACLE program is a true differentiator in the marketplace for Intero and will add to Intero’s ability to help seller clients achieve the best results.”

The PINNACLE program is available today for any seller with a signed listing agreement with an Intero sales associate.

© 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 Completes Sale of Owl Wire and Cable

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Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway is famous for buying companies, but on a occasion it sells them too.

International Wire Group has acquired Owl Wire and Cable from Berkshire’s Marmon Holdings, Inc.

Owl is a producer of high volume, heavy bare and tinned wire with operations in Canastota, Rome and Boonville, New York. Founded in 1954 as a family-owned business, Owl has been a recognized leader in copper wire for over six decades.

IWG is the market leader and the largest bare copper wire and copper wire products manufacturer in the United States with operations in Europe. With broad manufacturing and in-house engineering capabilities, IWG’s highly-skilled and experienced workforce offers fellow suppliers, distributors and OEMs the industry’s most robust and mission-critical product portfolio. It serves customers across the industrial and energy, electronics and data communications, aerospace and defense, medical products, automotive, and consumer and appliance industries.

“This new partnership is a ‘win-win’ for the loyal customers and workforces of both IWG and Owl, and for the communities we are privileged to serve,” said IWG President and CEO Greg Smith. “By integrating Owl’s manufacturing capabilities and superior customer service into our already market-leading company, we will create a unique platform to serve current and future customers. The new IWG will continue to deliver high-quality, precise wire and cable products for mission-critical applications that power our global economy. We know the Owl team well, and are thrilled to welcome them to IWG,” said Smith.

“We are thrilled to join the IWG organization. In doing so, the combination of IWG and Owl will bring an unparalleled benefit to the industry, one with the broadest and deepest capabilities to better serve our customers’ needs,” said Bob Raiti, President of Owl Wire and Cable.

© 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 Forms Alliance with HomeKeepr

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Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices has formed a strategic alliance with HomeKeepr, the nation’s only online home services marketplace.

HomeKeepr gathers and displays contractors and other home service pros based on more than six million word-of-mouth recommendations. Network agents receive a profile page and custom-branded mobile app on which they may add recommendations and refer home service pros to their clients. HomeKeepr’s referral platform is updated in real time so that only trusted home pros are available through the system.

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices’ alliance with HomeKeepr is called “FOREVER Connected by HomeKeepr,” as it fits with the network’s “FOREVER” Brand mission to serve and keep clients for life.

“FOREVER Connected by HomeKeepr will empower our network agents to support their clients at every stage of homeownership and, by sharing trusted pros and useful information, those relationships stand the test of time,” said Chris Stuart, CEO, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. “The platform is just one more resource available to our network professionals to help become ‘FOREVER Agents’ in the eyes of their clients.”
FOREVER Connected by HomeKeepr also includes a home improvement blog where visitors gain valuable information on home projects, design trends and much more.

“We are thrilled to align with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices network professionals to help them nurture their local client relationships and also support local commerce,” said Rob Morelli, CEO and co-founder of HomeKeepr. “With FOREVER Connected by HomeKeepr, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices network professionals remain at the center of those valuable, home services conversations and better connected with their clients over time.”

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices secures preferred alliances with selected vendors to strengthen the resources available to its network members across the world. The network remains one of America’s fastest-growing real estate brokerage franchise networks with more than 50,000 agents and nearly 1,500 offices added to the brand since its launch six years ago.

© 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.

Home Edge Realty Group Joins Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices

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Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices has announced that Home Edge Realty Group has joined the network operating as Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Home Edge Realty Group.

The company, founded in 2013 by owners Henry Chiarkas and Jacqui Chiarkas, is a market leader in State College, Bellefonte, Boalsburg and surrounding communities. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices remains one of America’s fastest-growing real estate brokerage franchise networks with more than 50,000 agents and nearly 1,500 offices added to the brand since its launch six years ago. This includes global network members across Western Europe and in Dubai, U.A.E.

“We are pleased to welcome Henry and Jacqui Chiarkas and their skilled Home Edge Realty Team to the network,” said Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices CEO Chris Stuart. “The group is highly regarded for its market expertise, thorough preparation and relentless client service. In fact, much of its business comes through the referrals and repeat business of its many satisfied customers.”

“We are proud and excited to represent the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices brand in State College and our other markets,” said Henry Chiarkas, Home Edge Realty Group broker. “It seems the brand is everywhere but here, and that certainly changes with our brand membership.”

Jacqui Chiarkas explained that the brokerage had grown about as much as it could as an independent company. “By joining Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, we gain a prestigious, global brand with the tools and resources to help our agents grow their businesses and provide even better service,” she said.

With their brand transition, Home Edge Realty Group agents gain access to Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices’ active referral and relocation networks, and its “FOREVER Cloud” technology suite, a powerful source for lead generation, marketing support, social media, video production/distribution and more. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices has aligned with Salesforce to deliver world-class technology support to its network members far into the future.

The brand also provides global listing syndication, professional training and ongoing education and the exclusive Luxury Collection marketing program for premier listings. Its Prestige Magazine showcases network members’ premium listings with a strong lineup of feature stories covering topics that appeal to high-end real estate consumers.

Henry Chiarkas said the brokerage will launch a recruiting campaign to double the size of its agent team over the next year. The entire staff will operate from Home Edge Realty Group’s brand-new corporate headquarters at 431 Science Park Road in State College starting in late December.

© 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 Offers Commercial Crime Insurance in Asia

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Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance is offering Commercial Crime Insurance in Asia. The new policy is designed to help companies address the exposures of a changing fraud landscape.

“Corporate fraud is becoming increasingly sophisticated as technology advances at an exponential pace across the globe. Companies now face new threats and are tasked with protecting both traditional and digital assets,” said Scotland Walsh-Riddle, Head of Executive & Professional Lines, BHSI Asia. “Our policy is important protection for a company’s balance sheet by both insuring against losses arising from a wide range of threats and providing support to investigate the cause of a loss.”

BHSI’s Commercial Crime Insurance Policy offers concise contract language for commercial organizations and includes coverage for both traditional employee crime and external crimes, including funds transfer fraud, credit card fraud, forgery, and impersonation coverage. Impersonation coverage responds to losses arising when a perpetrator impersonates an employee, executive or business associate of the insured for the purpose of defrauding the insured.

“Impersonation fraud is quickly becoming a systemic issue around the world. We’ve recently seen a social engineering scheme utilize artificial intelligence-based software to impersonate an executive. These schemes are testing the boundaries of what companies can prepare for – and we are committed to helping our customers protect against this rising threat,” said Scotland.

The Commercial Crime Insurance Policy also includes numerous extensions, including coverage for lost establishment fees an insured incurs to establish the existence and quantum of a loss.

“The Commercial Crime Policy was crafted with BHSI’s clear and concise underwriting and is backed by our excellent claims handling,” said Scotland. “Through BHSI’s unparalleled financial strength and experience, our customers and brokers can have the confidence BHSI will be there when it matters most.”

© 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.

Duracell Expanding Plant Capacity & Hiring in Cleveland

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Berkshire Hathaway’s Duracell is expanding its manufacturing plant in Cleveland, Ohio. The move will add 20,000 square-feet of manufacturing capacity to the plants current 190,000 square-feet.

Duracell will also hire 66 additional employees at the Mouse Creek Road plant, to makes components for AA and AAA batteries. The components are then shipped to Duracell’s LaGrange, Georgia, plant for final assembly of the batteries. The Mouse Creek Road plant currently produces C and D batteries for the world-wide market.

The 66 jobs will consist of 30 new full-time positions and 36 contractor jobs.

Groundbreaking for the project will begin in two weeks, with construction by Cleveland-based Tri-Con Inc. Commercial operation in the new space is expected by June 2020.

Berkshire Hathaway acquired Duracell when it cashed out of its minority stake in Procter & Gamble in 2016.

© 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-Owned Company Gets Help From ITC With Order Banning Importation of Patent Infringing Water Filters

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The U.S. International Trade Commission (“ITC”) has issued an order banning the importation of refrigerator water filters that infringed patents owned by Berkshire Hathaway’s KX Technologies LLC and licensed to Electrolux Home Products, Inc.

KX Technologies is a global leader in the design and production of drinking water filtration products including under-sink and countertop filtration units, point-of-use and point-of-entry systems, and refrigerator water and ice filtration systems.

“This is a significant win for KX Technologies and an even bigger win for American consumers,” said KX President Jerome Barrillon.

Barrillon cited a recent study by the Association for Home Appliance Manufacturers, which concluded that “counterfeit refrigerator water filters pose a serious risk to consumer health and safety.” The study revealed these counterfeit filters have “an overwhelming failure to remove harmful contaminants” that could harm the well-being of American consumers.

“KX is committed to upholding NSF-certified standards in our technologies and products to deliver safe, high quality water,” Barrillon said. “This important ruling will help ensure consumers can purchase water filters with confidence in the product’s performance.”

To help stop the flow of counterfeit filters into the U.S., on June 8, 2018, KX joined Electrolux in filing a complaint requesting that the ITC investigate the importation of infringing water filters into the country.

Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 provides for the investigation of any unfair act in the importation of articles into the U.S., including the enforcement of intellectual property rights. If the ITC finds a violation of Section 337, it may issue (1) an exclusion order banning importation of the infringing goods and/or (2) a cease-and-desist order preventing the sale and distribution of the infringing goods, subject to severe civil penalties.

Because the infringing water filters were so numerous and the sources of the products were difficult or impossible to identify, the ITC issued a sweeping “General Exclusion Order” banning infringing water filters from any source, even if the party seeking to import the products was not specifically named in the investigation. The ITC also issued cease-and-desist orders preventing certain named parties from any commercial activity involving the infringing filters.

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.

BHE Canada to Build Wind Farm in Alberta

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Berkshire Hathaway Energy’s BHE Canada subsidiary will build a 117.6MW wind farm in the village of Whitla, southwest of Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada.

The Rattlesnake Ridge Wind Power Project will consist of 28 – 4.2MW wind turbines generating a combined 117.6MW of electricity. Although a turbine model and layout has been finalized for permitting, the application to the AUC allows the company the flexibility to change the turbine model and layout, pending on-going discussions with turbine manufacturers.

The only current anticipated change would be removing 2 turbine locations and using a turbine with a slightly higher nameplate capacity. The general turbine characteristics would remain unchanged.

The project will t-tap 879L, the 138kV transmission line, owned and operated by Berkshire Hathaway Energy’s AltaLink, which is located within the south end of the Project area.

AltaLink is Alberta’s largest regulated electricity transmission company, and was acquired by Berkshire Hathaway Energy in 2014.

The project will begin construction in the summer of 2020, with a target date for commercial operation of December 2021.

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.