Monthly Archives: April 2020

Don’t Expect 5 Hours of Q&A at Berkshire Hathaway’s Virtual Annual Meeting

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Warren Buffett’s and Charlie Munger’s legendary five hours of Q&A at the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting has come to an end. In fact, Munger will not even be taking questions at this year’s virtual event to be held on Saturday, having been replaced by Greg Abel, Berkshire’s Vice Chairman-Non-Insurance Operations.

Also the lengthy Q&A that in recent years has combined shareholder questions from the meeting floor, emailed questions, and questions from journalists, has been simplified and reduced.

In a statement, the company announced:

Warren Buffett, Berkshire’s CEO and Greg Abel, Berkshire’s Vice Chairman-Non-Insurance Operations will be physically present at the meeting. However, the other Berkshire directors will not be attending the meeting. In addition to the formal business to be conducted at the meeting, Mr. Buffett and Mr. Abel will respond to shareholder questions that were submitted to three journalists (Becky Quick, Carol Loomis and Andrew Ross Sorkin). Ms. Quick will ask those questions that the journalists decide are the most interesting and important. Mr. Buffett and Mr. Abel will have no prior knowledge of what questions will be asked, but they will not discuss politics or specific investment holdings.

The 2020 Annual Shareholders Meeting on Saturday May 2, 2020 will formally begin at 3:45 p.m. central time. As previously announced, we will not be able to allow shareholders to physically attend the meeting. However, the meeting will be streamed live on the Internet by Yahoo with a pre-meeting show beginning at 3:00 p.m. central time and can be accessed at https://finance.yahoo.com/brklivestream.

© 2020 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 Names Dubai-based Alessandro Cerase to Global Property Underwriting Officer Team

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance has expanded its Global Property Underwriting Officer team to include Alessandro Cerase, who will focus on General Property, Energy and Construction. Alessandro will also retain his role as Senior Executive Officer (SEO) for BHSI’s Middle East region.

“With our property portfolio growing worldwide, it is the perfect time to expand our global property leadership team, led by Dean LaPierre, and to expand Alessandro’s invaluable contributions to BHSI globally,” said David Fields, Global Chief Underwriting Officer, BHSI. “This move is indicative of the strength and depth of BHSI’s team, not only in property but across all our lines of business — and of the excellent advancement opportunities available for BHSI teammates around the globe.”

Alessandro joined BHSI as SEO for the Middle East in 2018. A chemical engineer by background, he has more than 20 years of experience with energy and technical risks. As he assumes his additional responsibilities, Alessandro will remain based in Dubai.

© 2020 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Mouser Electronics Received 3rd Consecutive Distributor of the Year Award From Neutrik

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Berkshire Hathaway’s Mouser Electronics, Inc., the authorized global distributor with the newest semiconductors and electronic components, has been honored by Neutrik USA with three top awards for 2019 performance. Neutrik USA presented Mouser with the Distributor of the Year — Top Revenue award and Outstanding Performance of the Year award, and named Mouser’s Ryan Virostek as Supplier Manager of the Year. Neutrik is the leading provider of professional audio, video, and lighting connector systems.

Mouser received the awards based on Neutrik’s rigorous criteria, including overall sales performance, personnel relationships, on-time delivery and quality of inventory. Virostek received the Supplier Manager of the Year award based on overall support of the Neutrik line.

“Neutrik is pleased to present Mouser with these well-deserved awards, which recognize the team’s key role in contributing to the strong growth of Neutrik’s distribution reach,” said Tom Chudyk, Sales Director for Neutrik USA. “We appreciate the successful partnership we have with Mouser.”

“We are truly honored to receive these three top awards from Neutrik,” said Krystal Jackson, Mouser Vice President of Supplier Management. “Mouser is committed to providing best-in-class service to our customers, as well as our suppliers. We look forward to continuing our strong relationship with Neutrik.”

Neutrik is the recognized leader in connectivity solutions for the professional AVL and broadcast markets. In addition to its famous screwless XLR cable connectors, Neutrik is the inventor of powerCON®, etherCON®, speakON®, opticalCON®, combo 1/4-inch XLR chassis connectors, the D-size flange, rearTWIST® BNC connectors, and dozens of other innovations.

The 2019 award marks the third consecutive and fifth time overall that Mouser has received the Distributor of the Year — Top Revenue award from Neutrik.

In 2018, Neutrik also named Mouser the 2017 Distribution Partner of the Year and presented the distributor with the Outstanding Performance award. In the past decade, Mouser has been recognized with over a dozen distributor awards from Neutrik.

As an authorized distributor, Mouser Electronics is focused on the rapid introduction of new products and technologies, giving customers an edge and helping speed time to market. Over 800 semiconductor and electronic component manufacturers count on Mouser to help them introduce their products into the global marketplace. Mouser’s customers can expect 100% certified, genuine products that are fully traceable from each manufacturer.

© 2020 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.

GEICO Extends Policy Cancellation Pause Through May 31

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

With the economic effects of COVID-19 continuing to touch so many Americans, GEICO is extending its GEICO Giveback policy cancellation pause through May 31, 2020.

The company estimates the GEICO Giveback benefit to its customers will be approximately $2.5 billion.

On March 20, 2020, GEICO voluntarily announced it would pause policy cancellations due to non-payment and policy expiration through April 30, 2020. The company is extending the cancellation pause to further assist customers during this period of great uncertainty.

“As an insurer, we are used to being there for our customers at difficult times,” GEICO President and CEO Todd Combs said. “Our commitment to our customers is unwavering, and we are committed to supporting them through this unprecedented crisis.”

Earlier this month, GEICO announced it was providing a 15 percent credit to its private passenger auto, motorcycle and RV policyholders, where permitted. The GEICO Giveback is applied as policies come up for renewal between April 8 and Oct 7 (or April 8, 2020, and April 7, 2021, for 12-month policies). The credit also applies to new policies purchased through Oct. 7.

GEICO has also committed to offering maximum flexibility to policyholders who need special payment options and adjusting policies for customers driving less because of stay-at-home directives.

© 2020 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 Part of Nike’s Efforts to Make Full-Face Shields for Frontline Medical Workers

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Berkshire Hathaway’s Lubrizol together with NIKE, Inc. is helping protect frontline medical workers fighting against COVID-19. To support Nike’s efforts to develop and donate full-face shields and powered, air-purifying respirator (PAPR) lenses to hospitals across several U.S. cities, Lubrizol donated ESTANE® thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) polymers, an important element in both pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE).

Nike’s version of the full-face shield transforms elements of the brand’s footwear and apparel, including TPU. Lubrizol’s innovation team quickly evaluated materials, provided insights to optimize performance and re-orchestrated its production and supply chain to produce and donate the necessary material to Nike as part of this effort.

In addition to the full-face shields, the ESTANE TPU donation will be used in lenses for powered, air-purifying respirator (PAPR) helmets, used in situations where medical professionals face the greatest airborne pathogen exposure as they provide critical care to infected patients.

With Lubrizol’s support, Nike has shipped full-face shields and PAPR lenses to health systems in Oregon, where Nike is headquartered, and several other U.S. cities, including Cleveland, where Lubrizol’s world headquarters sit.
“We are grateful for the generosity of companies around the country as we build up our supply levels in anticipation of a surge in COVID-19 patients,” said Lara Kalafatis, Chair of Cleveland Clinic’s Philanthropy Institute. “This collaboration between Lubrizol and Nike demonstrates ingenuity applied alongside compassion and a sincere interest to help thousands of our caregivers.”

“These face shields will allow us to treat patients while keeping our front-line medical providers safe,” said MetroHealth President and CEO Akram Boutros, MD, FACHE. “We appreciate this generous donation. It’s another example of the community coming together to care for each other.”

Lubrizol’s TPU is an incredibly versatile polymer that bridges the gap between flexible rubber and rigid plastics, which allows partners to apply TPU across a wide range of applications. In addition to full-face shields, Lubrizol’s TPU is being used in medical gowns, medical equipment, hospital mattresses, tubing, hoses, and medical devices for many other critical applications.

“We are thrilled to collaborate with Nike to improve lives and support those in need during COVID-19,” says Rick Tolin, President, Lubrizol Advanced Materials. “Every day our employees enable products used across the world, and our team is fully committed to enabling our science and applications expertise to deliver even greater impact during this global crisis.”

Earlier this month, Lubrizol announced a $2 million donation commitment to support COVID-19 needs globally. The company has contributed critical supplies to hospitals across the world, donated to Food Banks where Lubrizol has major operations and supported local restaurants by purchasing meals for hospital workers, amongst other efforts. The company has also challenged its employees to contribute 2,020 virtual or at-home volunteer hours to assist organizations providing support in this environment.

© 2020 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.

Johns Manville Producing Nonwoven Media for Face Masks

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Berkshire Hathaway’s Johns Manville, a leading manufacturer and marketer of premium-quality building and specialty products, started production this month to make nonwoven filtration media that will be used to create needed face masks to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The filtration media is being produced at its plant in Richland, Mississippi.

“Johns Manville is in a unique position to serve a market that is fulfilling a great need across the world,” said Mary Rhinehart, President and CEO of Johns Manville. “We are proud of our teams in Richland and throughout JM for finding new ways to support the communities and people who are on the front lines of this global crisis.”

Most nonwoven production of face masks was abandoned in the U.S. many years ago and moved to Asia. Given the shortage of face masks in the U.S. and Europe, JM’s Engineered Products business decided to build on its existing capabilities and help fill the market demand.

“Our high-performance nonwoven material is designed to provide high levels of filtration for various types of face masks,” said John Vasuta, President of JM’s Engineered Products business.

JM media meets or exceeds Level 1 BFE 95% (Bacterial Filtration Efficiency) and VFE (Viral Filtration Efficiency) requirements. These results were verified by an FDA-registered national laboratory.

The JM plant in Richland employs about 50 people and produces a variety of filtration products for various air and liquid applications using polypropylene and polyester meltblown technology. Richland’s meltblown filtration media can be found in numerous industrial, automotive, consumer products and FDA-approved food and healthcare applications.

© 2020 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 to Sell OXY Common Stock it Received in Lieu of Dividends

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Berkshire Hathaway has agreed to take common shares of cash-strapped Occidental Petroleum in lieu of its scheduled quarterly preferred stock cash dividends.

Occidental was scheduled to pay Berkshire $200 million in dividends, but will instead see its common shares expand by over 17 million shares.

Berkshire doesn’t plan to expand its equity ownership in the oil and gas exploration and production company, which has seen its stock plummet with the global oil price collapse, and has already registered to sell the 17,274,130 shares that were issued to the holders of record of the Series A Preferred Stock as of March 31, 2020.

As of now, Berkshire owns the 17,274,130 shares through eighteen of its insurance companies, including National Indemnity Company, GEICO, Columbia Insurance Company, and BHG Life Insurance Company.

Occidental will announce its first quarter earnings on May 5, and has already announced a further reduction in 2020 capital spending to between $2.7 billion and $2.9 billion from its original 2020 guidance of $5.2 billion to $5.4 billion, a midpoint reduction of 47 percent.

At current commodity prices, 2020 annual production from continuing operations is expected to be 1,275,000 to 1,305,000 BOEPD, a reduction of 6 percent compared to prior guidance of 1,360,000 to 1,390,000 BOEPD.

© 2020 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Mouser Electronics Named Distributor of the Year by Littelfuse

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Berkshire Hathaway’s Mouser Electronics, Inc., the industry’s leading New Product Introduction (NPI) distributor with the widest selection of semiconductors and electronic components, has been recognized as the 2019 High Service Distributor of the Year by Littelfuse, a global manufacturer of leading technologies in circuit protection, power control and sensing.

This is the ninth year that Mouser has been honored with the top award.

“We are proud to recognize Mouser Electronics, a valuable channel partner for Littelfuse,” said Dave Heinzmann, Littelfuse President and Chief Executive Officer. “Mouser delivers outstanding results for Littelfuse, and their commitment to exceptional customer service aligns with our own.”

“We are incredibly honored to receive this top award from Littelfuse for the ninth time,” said Glenn Smith, Mouser’s President and CEO. “Throughout our longstanding partnership we’ve realized many successes together, and we look forward to many more in the future.”

Littelfuse selects the winner of the High Service Distributor of the Year award based on a variety of distributor performance metrics, including overall sales growth, focus product sales, growth in the number of customers served, and the number and quality of creative marketing campaigns that reach customers. Mouser previously won the Littelfuse High Service/Catalog Distributor of the Year award in 2008 through 2011 and in 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018.

© 2020 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 Expands Offerings for UK Financial Institutions, Launches D&O and Civil Liability Policies

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance (BHSI) today announced that it has introduced two new policies tailored expressly for UK financial institutions: Professional First Financial Institutions Civil Liability Insurance, and Executive First Financial Institutions D&O Liability Insurance.

Both policies clearly articulate broad coverage for liability exposures faced by large financial institutions. In an era where managing reputational risk is critical, both policies also include coverage to support crisis management and offer expansive coverage for investigations.

“Executives and professionals across Europe face significant liability exposures, and a volatile market for coverage. BHSI is pleased to provide UK financial institutions with the certainty of broad, clearly-written coverage, backed by the financial strength, stability and claims service of BHSI,” said Thomas Dilley, Head of Financial Institutions, BHSI, UK & Ireland.

Professional First Financial Institutions Civil Liability Insurance includes state-of-the-market features such as continuity coverage and express coverage for claims arising from breaches of privacy. Executive First D&O Liability Insurance includes key features designed to ensure the most reliable coverage for individuals, from automatic reinstatement of Side A limits, to an unlimited discovery period for retired executives.
Last year, BHSI introduced Professional First Asset Management Liability Insurance in the UK and Ireland.

© 2020 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 Introduces Management Liability & Association Liability Policies in New Zealand

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company expanded its Executive & Professional Lines offerings in New Zealand with the introduction of Management Liability and Association Liability Insurance policies.

“BHSI’s new Management Liability and Association Liability policies reflect our commitment to providing broad coverage in simple, concise wordings to address the multifaceted management liability risks of today’s world,” said Cameron McLisky, Head of Executive and Professional Lines, Australasia. “They also allow us to provide private company and non-profit organizations with sound solutions backed by BHSI’s financial strength and commitment to claims handling excellence.”

BHSI’s Management Liability policy is designed to address the wide range of claims private companies can face. Brokers and Insureds can customize coverage to include Directors & Officers Liability, General Liability, Statutory Liability, Employers Liability, Employment Practices Liability and/or Fidelity Insurance.

The Association Liability policy offers non-profit organizations similar flexibility and coverage tailored to their needs, with the addition of Professional Indemnity protection.

© 2020 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.