Monthly Archives: December 2021

BYD to Sell Yuan Plus EV in Singapore

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Berkshire Hathaway-backed BYD will launch its fully electric SUV BYD Yuan Plus in Singapore in the second quarter of 2022 with its official dealer in Singapore, E-Auto.

The Yuan Plus was first unveiled at the 2021 Guangzhou Auto Show in China, attracting wide attention from young-generation consumers. This SUV marks a new era of BYD vehicles in Singapore, promising improved power, a new design language, and an excellent battery range.

E-Auto is a division of Vantage Automotive and a member of the Sime Darby Motors group. The partnership with E-Auto is an important milestone for BYD to develop passenger vehicles in Singapore.

“With the EV market boom, we’ve seen growing interest in BYD passenger cars in Singapore,” said Mr. Christopher Chin, Managing Director of Vantage Automotive Limited. “We are proud to partner with BYD to offer the Singapore market an alternative EV model that’s backed by a proven and revolutionary technology. The Yuan Plus is also one of the most exciting models in BYD’s line-up and is sure to appeal to drivers here.”

Mr. James Ng, Managing Director of BYD Singapore, said: “We are anticipating strong interest in this newly launched BYD Yuan Plus in Singapore as it features BYD’s latest e-platform 3.0 and highly regarded Blade Battery technology. We believe that the Yuan Plus will appeal to a wider audience and please drivers with its improved power and modern design.”

Embodying BYD’s new design language – Dragon Face 3.0 – and a sporty themed interior, the Yuan Plus will feature a modern design and will be packed with a 150kW and 310Nm electric drive motor. The Yuan Plus will come in two options. The entry-level is available in ‘standard’ with a 250 mile range and 50kWh battery, while the premium variant is available in an extended range with a 310 mile range and 60kWh battery.

The BYD Yuan Plus offers a large space akin to standard A-SUVs with a wheelbase of 8 feet, 11 inches. BYD’s revolutionary Blade Battery technology will come as a standard in the Yuan Plus, which offers drivers industry-leading safety levels, a longer life cycle, and extensive single-charge range capabilities.

BYD’s e-platform 3.0 is designed for the next generation of high-performance smart EVs and offers four major advantages: safety, efficiency, intelligence, and aesthetics. It will further integrate and standardize core components in a brand-new body structure, digital and electrical architecture, and a revamped BYD vehicle operating system.

BYD’s Blade Battery elevates safety levels for EVs while increasing the space utilization of the battery pack by over 50%, compared with conventional lithium iron phosphate block batteries. This helps reduce the total weight of the car, which in turn improves energy efficiency and the range.

Specific details of the car will be announced closer to the launch.

BYD and Berkshire Hathaway

In 2008, Berkshire Hathaway bet on BYD’s potential, purchasing 225 million shares for $232 million. It’s an investment that has paid off handsomely. Berkshire’s original investment of $232 million had grown in value to $5.897 billion as of December 31, 2020.

© 2021 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 a 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.

Lessons From Warren Buffett: You Don’t Get Paid for Activity, You Only Get Paid for Being Right

Warren Buffett’s legendary patience flies in the face of the market’s need to have activity. How long is he willing to wait for an opportunity?

“The question of how long we wait, we wait indefinitely. We are not going to buy anything just to buy something. We will only buy something if we think we’re getting something attractive,” Warren Buffett said at the 1998 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting. “If the money piles up, the money piles up. And when we see something that makes sense, we’re willing to act very fast, very big. But we’re not willing to act on anything that doesn’t check out in our view. . . . You don’t get paid for activity, you only get paid for being right.”

Hear Buffett’s full explanation

See the complete Lessons From Warren Buffett series

© 2021 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’s Executive Chairman Tony Nicely Retiring

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GEICO’s Executive Chairman Tony Nicely has announced he will retire from his role at the end of the year, concluding an illustrious 60-year career.

Prior to assuming his current position as executive chairman in 2018, Nicely served as chairman and CEO of GEICO for 25 years.

Nicely’s leadership ushered in the most impressive growth era in GEICO history and turned the company into one of the country’s most recognizable brands. The company surged ahead to become the nation’s second largest auto insurer, with nearly 17 million policyholders at the end of his tenure as chairman and CEO. Today, GEICO insures more than 18.6 million policyholders.

Under Nicely’s watch, GEICO’s associate population increased more than eight-fold to a family of some 40,000, working at 18 locations across the country.

During his time as chairman and CEO, GEICO also experienced one of its most critical milestones. In 1996, the company became a wholly owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway after Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett announced the holding company would buy out the remaining 49% of shares it didn’t already own.

Nicely shared his expertise with the entire property/casualty insurance industry, serving on boards for the American Property Casualty Insurance Association, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Insurance Information Institute. He was also inducted into the Washington Business Hall of Fame for his achievements.

During Nicely’s tenure as GEICO chairman and CEO, Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett often commended Nicely for his distinguished leadership. Buffett wrote of Tony in his 2018 annual shareholder letter, “He is a model for everything a manager should be.”

In an earlier letter to shareholders, Buffett added, “If you have a new son or grandson in 2006, name him Tony,” after praising GEICO for having an exceptional year of growth and profitability.

Nicely came to GEICO in 1961 as an endorsement clerk in the company’s underwriting department. A teenager at the time, he initially viewed the opportunity as a short-term job so he could save money to attend college and pursue an engineering degree.

Nicely soon discovered a career at GEICO was his passion, and he was quickly promoted through several ranks in management before the Board of Directors elected him assistant vice president of underwriting at age 29.

Nicely went on to serve in executive roles with increasing responsibility before first assuming the role of CEO and later adding the title of chairman. His business expertise and humble leadership is largely responsible for shaping GEICO into the company it is today.

© 2021 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 Expands in Southeastern Region

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Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, a global residential real estate brokerage franchise network, is pleased to announce its further expansion in the Southeastern region with the addition of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Blue Ridge, REALTORS®.

This marks the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices brand’s continued growth in North Carolina and its 13th franchise in the state.

Owned and operated by Michael Watts, a seasoned real estate master with over 25 years of industry experience. The franchise is located in Morganton, North Carolina and adds 44 real estate professionals and 2 offices serving Morganton and the Western North Carolina area.

“The impeccable reputation and the global brand presence that Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices holds is exactly what I want to align with,” said Michael Watts, Broker and Owner, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Blue Ridge, REALTORS®. “With access to brand global leadership and over 50,000 real estate professionals around the globe, our legacy is just beginning.”

“We are pleased to welcome Michael and Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Blue Ridge, REALTORS® to the network,” said Christy Budnick, CEO, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. “The company’s vision, mission and culture align with ours seamlessly. With demand in the residential real estate market continuing to increase in Morganton, North Carolina, the timing couldn’t be more perfect.”

By joining the network, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Blue Ridge, REALTORS® 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 best-in-class technology platforms to deliver world-class support to its network members far into the future.

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Blue Ridge, REALTORS® will also have full access to the recently unveiled, Real Estate I.Q. System®. The system combines the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices brand, marketing resources and technology with continuing education, training, mentoring and consulting. 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 clients.

Gino Blefari, Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, also welcomed the company to the network, “As we expand our footprint further through the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina, Michael Watts and his dynamic team of agents bring valuable experience and local market expertise to our global network. We look forward to supporting them on their mission of expanding their business throughout the region.”

© 2021 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.

Lessons From Warren Buffett: Why Buffett Prefers Stocks to Gold

Gold is pitched endlessly to investors as an inflation hedge and a great investment, so should gold, or any precious metal, be a major part of your portfolio? As an asset class, Warren Buffett is less than impressed. “When we took over Berkshire, gold was at twenty dollars and Berkshire was at fifteen. Gold is now at $1,600 and Berkshire is at $120,000,” Buffett noted in 2012.

Almost a decade later, gold stood at $1,798 and Berkshire Hathaway’s A shares were over $443,000.

For Buffett, it all comes down to the advantage of the earning power that companies have over commodities, such as gold.

“It’s very hard for an unproductive investment to beat productive investments over any period of time,” Warren Buffett said at the 2012 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting. “The one thing I would bet my life on is over a 50-year period not only will Berkshire do considerable better than gold, but common stocks as a group will do better than gold, and probably farmland will do better than gold.”

Buffett’s full explanation on why productive assets ultimately outperform unproductive assets over time

See the complete Lessons From Warren Buffett series

© 2021 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, Caterpillar & Chevron Announce Hydrogen Locomotive Demonstration Project

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Progress Rail, a Caterpillar Inc. Company, BNSF Railway Company and Chevron U.S.A. Inc., a subsidiary of Chevron Corporation have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to advance the demonstration of a locomotive powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

The goal of the demonstration is to confirm the feasibility and performance of hydrogen fuel for use as a viable alternative to traditional fuels for line-haul rail. Hydrogen has the potential to play a significant role as a lower-carbon alternative to diesel fuel for transportation, with hydrogen fuel cells becoming a means to reduce emissions.

Under the MOU, the parties are working toward reaching definitive agreements on a demonstration with three primary objectives. First, Progress Rail plans to design and build a prototype hydrogen fuel cell locomotive for line-haul and/or other types of rail service. Second, Chevron expects to develop the fueling concept and infrastructure to support this use of the locomotive. Lastly, the prototype hydrogen fuel cell locomotive is expected to be demonstrated on BNSF’s lines for a mutually agreed upon period of time.

“Caterpillar has made great strides in moving our advanced power technology forward. Our Progress Rail team will leverage that knowledge and experience toward a hydrogen fuel cell locomotive,” said Joe Creed, Caterpillar group president of Energy and Transportation. “Working with Chevron and BNSF will allow us to advance hydrogen technology across the industry.”

“BNSF is pleased to collaborate with Chevron and Progress Rail in piloting locomotives powered by hydrogen fuel cells,” commented John Lovenburg, vice president of Environmental for BNSF. “This technology could one day be a lower-carbon solution for line-haul service, as it has the potential to reduce carbon emissions and remain cost competitive.”

“Chevron is dedicated to scaling up its hydrogen business to help meet the needs of customers who want to reduce the lifecycle carbon emissions of their operations,” said Jeff Gustavson, president of Chevron New Energies. “Our work with Progress Rail and BNSF is an important step toward advancing new use cases for hydrogen in heavy duty transport, as we seek to create a commercially viable hydrogen economy.”

As previously announced, Caterpillar Inc. is collaborating with Chevron for the demonstration of hydrogen projects in transportation and stationary power applications.

The proposed demonstration project is subject to the negotiation of definitive agreements with customary closing conditions, including regulatory approval. If established, additional details about the hydrogen locomotive demonstration, including where the initial pilot will take place and its timing, will be released at a later date.

© 2021 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 Adds Brokerage in Mexico

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Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, a global residential real estate brokerage franchise network, is pleased to announce its further expansion into Mexico welcoming Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Los Cabos Properties.

The brokerage will be led by industry trailblazer, Ian Gengos.

Originally from Australia, Ian lived and worked throughout Canada and the Caribbean for years before choosing to settle in Los Cabos. A working vacation turned into a career change, a fresh outlook on life, and a focus on the things in it that mattered most. Ian’s experience and knowledge of the Baja California Sur area provide clients with a seamless experience from start to finish.

“We joined Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices due to the exceptional global network, support and tools they offer,” said Ian Gengos. “My team and I are thrilled to bring this value to home buyers and sellers in Los Cabos. There has been tremendous evolution and growth in the Los Cabos luxury property market, and I am just as excited now for my clients as I was for my own family years ago when I moved to this location.”

The real estate market in Cabo San Lucas is booming like never before, and there’s no sign of a slowdown anytime soon. The destination is a mainstay vacation home spot for buyers from California and Texas, and while sales have generally been strong over the years, they’ve exploded since the onset of the pandemic.

“Our global network is extremely proud to welcome Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Los Cabos Properties. We are excited for their future with the network and look forward to having a larger footprint in Mexico,” said Christy Budnick, CEO, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices.

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Los Cabos Properties agents will have 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 best-in-class technology platforms to deliver world-class support to its network members far into the future.

The newly added brokerage will also have full access to the revolutionary Real Estate I.Q. System®. The system combines the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices brand, marketing resources and technology with continuing education, training, mentoring and consulting. 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 clients.

Gino Blefari, Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, also welcomed the company to the network, “It is with great pleasure that we welcome Ian Gengos and his dynamic team of agents to our global network. We look forward to supporting them in their mission of opening additional offices throughout the region.”

© 2021 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 Ups Angela Meyer to Head of Life Sciences, North America

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Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance has promoted Angela Meyer to Head of Life Sciences in North America. She was previously Head of Life Sciences for the Southeastern region of the U.S.

“Angela has played a major role in building our North American Life Sciences portfolio for the last seven years, bringing exceptional technical acumen and creative problem-solving to these complex and evolving risks,” said Steve Harris, Vice President, Casualty, BHSI. “In her new role, she will lead our efforts to further expand BHSI’s presence in the Life Sciences market with our stable capacity, financial strength and CLAIMS IS OUR PRODUCT philosophy.”

Angela joined BHSI in February 2014, and has nearly 20 years of experience in the insurance industry.
BHSI provides Products Liability, Professional Services Liability and Clinical Trials Liability coverage for Life Sciences companies, including multinational programs with local policy issuance capabilities in 170 countries.

Angela will continue to be based in Atlanta.

© 2021 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.

Lessons From Warren Buffett: No Secrets in This Business That Only the Priesthood Knows

Is there a secret formula to success in the stock market? Warren Buffett says absolutely not. The tools you need to be successful are right there out in the open. He points to Benjamin Graham’s The intelligent Investor as one example, and Buffett says “the advice I would give is to read everything in sight.”

“There are no secrets in this business that only the priesthood knows,” Warren Buffett said at the 2005 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting. “We do not go into temples and look at tablets that are only available to those who have passed earlier tests or anything. It’s all out there in black and white. It’s a simple business.”

Hear Buffett’s full explanation

See the complete Lessons From Warren Buffett series

© 2021 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 Buys Germany-Based Spice Company

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The Kraft Heinz Company is acquiring an 85% stake in Germany-based Just Spices GmbH. The remaining 15% ownership stake will be retained by Just Spices’ three founders, who will continue on with the company and focus on driving the business and its international growth.

Launched in 2014, Just Spices is an innovative start-up, trailblazing the high-growth taste elevation category with annual sales of approximately €60 million.

Its 170-plus product portfolio includes spice blends, salad dressings, and easy-to-prepare “In Minutes” blends for diverse meal occasions ranging from breakfast and light snacks to salads and baking, with a broad range of savory, sweet, classic and exotic flavors. Just Spices’ rapidly growing spice revolution business sells approximately 70% of its ready-made and one-step spice blends directly to consumers, with its remaining sales through major grocery retailers both in-store and online in Germany, Spain, Austria, and Switzerland.

Just Spices’ data-driven product innovation has successfully been geared towards the needs of today’s Gen Y and Gen Z consumer, with approximately 1.6 million followers across the company’s social media platforms. Its advanced analytics knowledge has enabled Just Spices to create and identify early consumer trend signals, foster product innovation, understand customer sentiment, and optimize consumer targeting.

“This is a great opportunity to further accelerate our growth agenda by strengthening our ability to anticipate trends in consumer tastes and preferences, as well as our speed to innovate,” said Rafael Oliveira, International Zone President at Kraft Heinz. “We will leverage our scale and agility to accelerate Just Spices’ business in the fast-growing taste elevation market beyond its current German base and its recent market entries in Spain, Austria, and Switzerland. We also see tremendous potential to strengthen and enhance our own direct-to-consumer operations and go-to-market expansion.”

“In the last few years, Just Spices has been further strengthening its successful omni-channel approach, with some of the best-in-class direct-to-consumer analytics in the food space. We are extremely excited by the potential for expansion that comes from combining Just Spices’ innovation and brand power with the Kraft Heinz team and the scale they bring to the table,” said Florian Falk, Just Spices CEO and one of the company’s three founders.

The deal is subject to customary closing conditions, including merger control approval, and is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2022.

© 2021 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.