Category Archives: Commentary

Commentary: Buffett’s Got the Inside Numbers on Softening Consumer Demand

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Warren Buffett probably knows the current state of the economy better than anyone else in the United States. After all, at any moment he knows how cars are selling at Berkshire Hathaway Automotive, how homes are selling at Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, and how much goods and commodities are shipping at BNSF Railway.

BNSF Railway’s total carloads for 2019 are in a downward trend as compared to 2018 due to a major decrease in intermodal shipping, which is down 5.53% from 2018.

And we already know from Ford’s and General Motors’ earning reports that car sales fell in the second quarter.

Buffett also knows that consumer demand for furniture and home goods continues to soften, as the numbers at his retailers: Nebraska Furniture Mart, Jordan’s Furniture, RC Willey, and Star Furniture show.

In its latest SEC filing, Berkshire Hathaway reported that its sales and earnings from its furniture business were down 3% from the same period in 2018.

“Soft consumer demand,” along with poor weather in parts of the country, were the reasons cited.

Berkshire’s pre-tax earnings for home furnishings for the first six months fell a dramatic 23%, due to higher operating costs and lower sales.

Home furnishings, which include furniture, appliances, rugs, table and chairs, and other home décor, decline in sales when consumers cut back on discretionary spending, delay upgrading, and avoid adding large purchases, as their consumer debt grows.

Berkshire’s Jordan’s Furniture, which is the leading furniture retailer in New England, is already offering 72-month interest free financing in order to prop up sales.

Strong consumer demand, which has long propped up the economy, and kept the longest economic expansion in U.S. history chugging along, may finally be weakening. And Warren Buffett certainly knows it better than anyone.

© 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.

Commentary: Berkshire Finally Has Smooth Driving in Texas

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Berkshire Hathaway, a company that does a Texas-sized amount of business in Texas, including being the home state for BNSF Railway, had an unexpected bump in the road created by its 2015 acquisition of the Van Tuyl Group.

Berkshire bought the auto dealership group for $4.1 billion after company CEO Larry Van Tuyl approached Berkshire in late-2014 and proposed the acquisition.

Unfortunately for Berkshire, Texas state law prohibited owning dealerships if you manufacture vehicles, something Berkshire does through its wholly-owned Forest River, Inc., a leading manufacturer of RVs and small buses.

Van Tuyl Group, which was rechristened Berkshire Hathaway Automotive, ran afoul of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles when in 2017 the Department decided to look at whether Berkshire Hathaway was violating state law and might be subject to fines.

Berkshire Hathaway Automotive CEO Jeff Rachor testified before State Sen. Kelly Hancock’s committee that applying the law to auto dealerships because of owning a motorhome manufacturer was an “unintended consequence.”

Unfortunately, Texas regulators didn’t relent and Berkshire’s first push at a legislative fix, which included some glad-handing by Warren Buffet himself, came up empty when the Tea Party coalition helped kill a bill to fix the problem.

Fast forward a couple of years and cooler heads have prevailed.

This time, the bill State Sen. Hancock sponsored, SB 1415, passed, and Gov. Greg Abbott has signed it into law.

The new law, which takes effect Sept. 1, 2019, means that manufacturers are now only prohibited from owning dealerships that sell the same vehicles that they produce, which is not something that Berkshire Hathaway Automotive Group does.

Problem solved, and Warren Buffet can now breath a Texas-sized sigh of relief.

© 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.

Commentary: Has the Time Finally Come for Berkshire to Cash Out of Axalta?

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Has the time finally come for Berkshire Hathaway to cash out of its minority position in Axalta?

Back in 2015, Berkshire Hathaway acquired roughly 10% minority stake in Axalta Coating Systems from The Carlyle Group for $560 million, or $28.00 per share. Axalta is a leading global coatings provider for vehicles and industrial applications.

Since that time it’s watched its investment flounder, as the Philadelphia-based Axalta fought off being acquired by PPG, and spurned another potential merger with Dutch coatings company Akzo Nobel.

Nippon Paint was another company that was interested in Axalta, only to have the company reject a $9.1 billion all-cash bid that it made near the end of 2017.

2017 was also a year of internal turmoil for the company. Axalta parted ways with its newly hired CEO, Terrence Hahn, after only five weeks on the job. The dismissal came after an internal investigation turned up conduct that Axalta “believes was inconsistent with company policies.”

Chief financial officer Robert Bryant took over as CEO and remains in that position today.

Apparently, Axalta was a company unwilling to be taken over by anyone.

Now, Axalta finally seems ready to enhance shareholder value, and a takeover has become more likely.

“Axalta’s Board is committed to maximizing value for all shareholders and has initiated a comprehensive review of strategic alternatives, including a potential sale of the Company, changes in capital allocation, and ongoing execution of our strategic plan,” according to Axalta director Mark Garrett.

With a sale of the company finally on its board’s agenda, could this be the time for Buffett to finally get something for his investment?

Nippon Paint, PPG, and Akzo Nobel are all among the potential players, and the market has quickly recognized that this time may finally be different for Axalta.

Axalta (AXTA) closed on Friday at $29.99, making Berkshire’s stake worth $727,677,360. And it’s now trading above its 52-week high of $30.94 in Friday’s after-hours trading.

Hopefully there’s more good news to come.

Finally.

© 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.

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

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

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.

Commentary: Here’s One Big Thing to Like in Buffett’s Annual Letter

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Warren Buffett may be frustrated that he can’t find any “elephants” to acquire, but he did give hope to Berkshire investors that there is one elephant-sized company that he would love to own more of, Berkshire Hathaway.

In his just released Annual Letter to Shareholders, Buffett stated “it is likely that – over time – Berkshire will be a significant repurchaser of its shares…”

While Buffett made no mention of paying a dividend, which is something he has been negative on in the past, he is clearly willing to put more of Berkshire’s $112 billion in cash into stock buybacks if the price is right.

It’s a process that’s already begun.

In the 3rd quarter of 2018, Berkshire bought back $928 million of its stock, which brought the 2018 total to more than $1.3 billion.

Now, with no big acquisition moves on the horizon, Buffett seems to be warming even more to the idea.

Remember, he stated that in future buybacks Berkshire would be a “significant repurchaser.”

Does this indicate that future buybacks could be substantially larger than what we saw last year?

It all comes down to price, and whether in Buffett’s opinion Berkshire is trading below its intrinsic value.

“If the market prices a departing partner’s interest at, say, 90¢ on the dollar, continuing shareholders reap an increase in per-share intrinsic value with every repurchase by the company,” Buffett explained.

“Assuming that we buy at a discount to Berkshire’s intrinsic value – which certainly will be our intention – repurchases will benefit both those shareholders leaving the company and those who stay,” Buffett said.

Ever cautious, Buffett is only interested in buybacks if they create value for shareholders, noting that “Blindly buying an overpriced stock is value destructive, a fact lost on many promotional or ever-optimistic CEOs.”

In his letter, Buffett also highlighted how over the years stock repurchases of some of the minority stakes Berkshire holds have given it an increasing share of those companies without spending a dime.

He pointed out that “Berkshire’s holdings of American Express have remained unchanged over the past eight years. Meanwhile, our ownership increased from 12.6% to 17.9% because of repurchases made by the company. Last year, Berkshire’s portion of the $6.9 billion earned by American Express was $1.2 billion, about 96% of the $1.3 billion we paid for our stake in the company. When earnings increase and shares outstanding decrease, owners – over time – usually do well.”

And over time, as Berkshire increases its own buybacks, hopefully shareholders will do well too.

© 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.

Commentary: Berkshire Hathaway Takes the Easy Money in IBM-Red Hat Merger

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

In life there’s hard money and there’s easy money. There are times when you work day and night and have little to show for it, and there are times when the money falls like leaves from a tree.

One thing about Berkshire Hathaway, they’re never afraid to make money the easy way.

And what could be easier than with a click of a mouse buying up shares that somebody’s already committed to paying more for?!

With IBM set to buy Red Hat Software for $34 billion, Berkshire Hathaway has been busy buying up shares for what looks to be a profitable merger arbitrage play.

IBM’s move is the third-biggest U.S. technology merger history, trailing only Dell’s acquisition of EMC, and the JDS Uniphase acquisition of SDL, and Berkshire has jumped in and scarfed up 4,175,792 shares of Red Hat at an average price of $175.64 per share, it just revealed in its latest 13F filing for Q4 2018.

The shares represent 2.3730% of the software and cloud computing company, and if the deal goes through, Berkshire will make a profit of 7.55% for just buying and holding until the closing date.

The deal is expected to close in late 2019.

Berkshire does not disclose who makes a particular stock purchase or sale, so it’s not known whether the move is the handiwork of Warren Buffett, or his portfolio managers Todd Combs and Ted Weschler.

Combs and Weschler each handle separate portfolios of roughly $10 billion each, which combined is just over 10% of Berkshire’s diverse $183 billion portfolio of shares in companies such as Apple, Coca Cola, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, American Express, JP Morgan Chase, Delta, Goldman Sachs, and Southwest Airlines, among others.

IBM hopes its acquisition of Red Hat will provide an open approach to cloud computing, and make IBM the #1 hybrid cloud provider in an emerging $1 trillion growth market. It plans for Red Hat to operate as a distinct unit within IBM’s Hybrid Cloud team.

We Don’t Care. We Don’t Have To

However Red Hat operates, it won’t matter to Berkshire.

Berkshire previously dumped all its IBM shares when it lost hope in IBM’s growth plans after company racked up almost six years of declining sales.

Unlike IBM, Red Hat has seen dramatic revenue growth. Its revenue shot up 21% between the 2017 and 2018 fiscal years.

However, IBM’s offer to pay $190 a share for Red Hat has Berkshire excited if not for IBM, than at least for the billions it will pay for Red Hat.

IBM is swinging for the fences with its largest acquisition in its history. And Berkshire is more than happy to hit a nice clean single of its own.

© 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.

Commentary: Berkshire Hathaway Shows How to Do Retailing Right

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Nobody seems to have told Berkshire Hathaway about the “death of retailing,” which is ever present in the headlines.

With Sears having filed for bankruptcy in October, and Toys R Us, Mattress Firm, hhgregg, Bon-Ton Stores, and Gymboree among the bankruptcy filers in 2018, it’s easy to think that no one can succeed at retailing these days.

On the contrary, Berkshire Hathaway’s retailing division, which includes selling home goods, furniture electronics, and appliances through Nebraska Furniture Mart, RC Willey, Star Furniture and Jordan’s Furniture, is showing robust growth.

In the first nine months of 2018, Berkshire had a 3.8% increase in retailing business revenues to $11.404 billion as compared to $10.986 billion in the same period of 2017, with gains at its home furnishings businesses.

Berkshire reported an increase in pre-tax earnings from retailing to $572 million from $513 million.

In its recently released quarterly report, Berkshire’s revenues from its home furnishing business increased 5.4% in the first nine months.

Berkshire credited its rise in retail revenues to “higher volumes in certain geographic markets and the effect of a new store, which opened in 2018.”

Berkshire’s Utah-based RC Willey, opened a second location in Sacramento, California, in January 2018.

Over all, Berkshire Hathaway’s furniture and home good business is ranked 7th on Furniture Today’s Top 100, and had estimated 2017 furniture, bedding and accessory sales of $2.01 billion.

What is the secret to Berkshire’s success in midst of all the retailer struggles? It’s simple. They invest in retailing.

In the spring of 2015, as other retailers were closing stores and slashing investments, Berkshire opened its largest Nebraska Furniture Mart ever at The Colony in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas.

The store boasts a 1.9 million-square-foot facility featuring a 560,000-square-foot showroom. And the whole Nebraska Furniture Mart chain, which consists of only four stores, generates almost $2 billion in annual sales.

With its newest Nebraska Furniture Mart, Berkshire was out to prove that going into a retail store could be an experience still worth doing, even in the era of Amazon.

Berkshire situated its Dallas-Fort Worth Nebraska Furniture Mart in its own Texas-sized development called Grandscape.

The Berkshire development is a 400+ acres “a city within a city,” featuring more than 3 million square feet of retail, entertainment, dining, residential, office and attractions.

By going bigger and bolder, Berkshire Hathaway is taking the online retail challenge head on, and is showing that there is still customer interest in the in-store experience.

© 2018 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.

Commentary: With Investment in India’s Paytm, Berkshire Moving Beyond Technology Aversion

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Insurance, manufacturing, transportation, retail, these are all things Berkshire Hathaway are known for but not technology.

Warren Buffett’s famed aversion to technology has been fading with Berkshire’s $46.6 billion stake in Apple, and now comes word that the company has taken a 3-4% stake in One97 Communications Ltd, the parent of Indian digital payments company Paytm.

In just eight years, Paytm has become India’s leading digital payments platform in country where digital payments are projected to grow five-fold by 2023.

The investment was actually made by Berkshire portfolio manager Todd Combs, and the main thing it shows is that the next generation of Berkshire’s investment management may not stick to a strictly value investing strategy.

“I have been impressed by Paytm and am excited about being a part of its growth story, as it looks to transform payments and financial services in India,” Combs said.

In addition to the investment, Combs will also join the eight-member board of the company, which includes Alibaba co-founder and executive chairman Joseph Tsai, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas managing partner Pallavi Shroff, Ant Financial CEO Eric Jing, and Goldman Sachs Asia chairman Mark Schwartz.

“Berkshire’s experience in financial services, and long-term investment horizon is going to be a huge advantage in Paytm’s journey of bringing 500 million Indians to the mainstream economy through financial inclusion,” Paytm’s founder and CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma noted.

For a company the size of Berkshire, the $356 million investment in One97 Communications Ltd hardly makes a dent in its mountain of cash, which totaled $111 billion at the end of the second quarter. In fact, it represents just over a week’s profit at the rate Berkshire is currently generating it. However, the investment, while small, shows that Berkshire is both looking beyond the U.S. for investment opportunities and beyond its traditional investment parameters.

© 2018 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.

Commentary: Buffett and Munger Right on Cryptocurrencies, So Far

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

It’s no secret that Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger have been famously down on cryptocurrencies.

“Bitcoin is like rat poison squared,” Buffett said during the 2018 Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting.

That Buffett, and Berkshire’s vice-chairman Charlie Munger, are naysayers on cryptocurrencies is no surprise. As the world’s leading value investors, speculative assets are exactly the things they avoid.

While Buffett’s “rat poison,” comment did not come with a detailed explanation, it was, however, supplemented by Munger’s take that cryptocurrencies are “totally asinine.”

On the speculative trading frenzy that bid prices up to astronomical levels at the end of 2017, that didn’t impress Munger much either.

“Someone else is trading turds and you decide I can’t be left out,” Munger noted wryly.

Since May, cryptocurrency prices have continued their downward march, including heavy selling on Monday and Tuesday.

Why? Perhaps it’s because the highly touted utility of Bitcoin, Ethereum, etc. have yet to prove compelling to anyone but speculators.

A Currency, or a Speculative Asset?

People that tout Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are really believers in the rise of a nonproductive asset that is no different than gold, silver, or the alligator infested swamp land offered during the Florida land speculation of the 1920s.

Cryptocurrencies are an asset that is moving up or down daily based on what Benjamin Graham would have called speculation, and what can also be called gambling.

Devotees will wax poetic about the unique properties of blockchain, the supposed anonymity of cryptocurrencies, and other virtues of virtual currencies that show its utility, but to do that is to ignore that these assets are not being bought and used as what they are touted as, currencies.

After all, a currency is supposed to be a medium of exchange between two parties for goods and services, not a speculative asset class that you stash in your safety deposit box on a thumb drive.

As for its unique utility, that also hasn’t impressed Munger all that much.

“The fact that it’s clever computer science doesn’t mean it should be widely used, and that respectable people should encourage other people to speculate on it,” Munger said on CNBC’s Squawk Box.

Put aside its so-called utility, let’s talk about why people really got excited about Bitcoin in the first place. It inflated in value at an astronomical rate, and people were becoming cryptocurrency millionaires or billionaires overnight without doing anything.

But wait, this extreme bidding upward in the marketplace is not a feature of currencies. It is a feature of speculative asset fevers reminiscent of the Dutch Tulip Mania of the 1500s.

While historically currencies have periodically plunged in value due to hyper-inflation (just look at Venezuela to see that phenomenon), the same process does not happen in reverse.

There’s a simple explanation for that. Plunging values for currencies reflect a lack of faith in a currency as a method of exchange. The more extreme that pessimism, the more currency it takes to overcome it.

But, currencies of the more sound variety, which in essence have more faith placed in them by creditors, do not get bouts of extreme faith that shoot them up astronomically. They increase or decrease in a much narrower range.

Accepting Bitcoin as a currency is no different than asking to get paid in casino chips or lottery tickets. You are hoping for a second transaction to determine its value. At the casino it’s spinning the roulette wheel, and with cryptocurrencies it’s betting in the marketplace that someone will pay you more for your Bitcoins than the valuation you got them at.

All speculative bubbles are full of enablers. They are so-called experts that tell you why this time is different, hucksters telling the masses not to be left out, and true believers that have adopted the asset as a religion.

It’s a familiar tale that always has a sad ending for all but a few.

“Bitcoin is worthless, artificial gold,” Munger noted on Squawk Box. “Now that is not something I think the world needs.”

So, far, both Buffett and Munger are being proven right.

© 2018 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.

Commentary: Buffett Not the Only Billionaire into Restaurant Brands International

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

One of Warren Buffett’s best deals in recent years was his 2014 financing of Burger King’s acquisition of Canadian Restaurant Chain Tim Hortons.

The deal was financed by Berkshire Hathaway, and Berkshire’s role gave the conglomerate ownership and control over 4.18% of the outstanding Common Shares and 14.37% of the total number of votes attached to all outstanding voting shares of the newly created Restaurant Brands International.

The company has continued to grow, and in 2017 gobbled up Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen for $1.8 billion.

What made the deal one of Buffett’s best was Berkshire’s right to purchase 8,438,225 common shares of Restaurant Brands for a penny a share. The warrants came attached to 68,530,939 Class A 9.00% Cumulative Compounding Perpetual Preferred Shares that Berkshire acquired during the financing.

Berkshire has been sitting in the catbird seat, and with Restaurant Brands’ stock currently at $62.77 a share, Buffett is ahead a remarkable 620,770%.

It’s a reminder that Buffett is not just a great stock picker, he’s one the greatest dealmakers.

Restaurant Brands International, which trades under the symbol QSR, was trading in the $40s when the company was formed, and is still drawing interest at prices fifty percent higher than that.

Billionaire Kenneth C. Griffin has amassed 4.6 million shares of Restaurant Brands’ stock.

Griffin has been ranked as the 52nd richest person in America, and his Citadel LLC has developed a reputation for astute investments.

Griffin got his investing start in 1987, when as a 19-year-old sophomore at Harvard University, he started trading from his dorm room with a fax machine, a personal computer, and a telephone.

© 2018 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.