HomeServices of America Acquires Largest Private Residential Real Estate Company in Texas

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Berkshire Hathaway’s HomeServices of America, Inc. has acquired the Ebby Halliday Companies, the largest private residential real estate company in Texas by sales volume.

The acquisition includes Ebby Halliday’s three real estate brands—Dallas-based Ebby Halliday, REALTORS® and Dave Perry-Miller Real Estate along with Fort Worth-based Williams Trew Real Estate—and their affiliated mortgage and title companies. Ebby Halliday’s portfolio of companies will continue to operate under their current brand names.

Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Headquartered in Dallas, Ebby Halliday Companies serves metropolitan Dallas-Fort Worth and surrounding communities with approximately 1,800 sales associates and staff operating in 35 offices across 12,000 square miles in North Texas. Ebby Halliday is the 12th largest residential real estate company in the United States by sales volume and the 17th largest by transaction sides, according to the 2017 REAL Trends 500 report. In 2017, the company closed $8.0 billion of sales volume.

Founded in 1945 as a one-woman, one-office firm by industry visionary Ebby Halliday, the firm has grown to become one of the nation’s foremost full-service real estate companies. The Ebby Halliday name is synonymous with providing clients the highest level of customer service, local expertise and resources, all delivered by a team of knowledgeable agents using the firm’s innovative technologies. Mary Frances Burleson, president and CEO and Ron Burgert, the company’s chief financial officer will continue to lead the firm’s strategic growth initiatives and manage day-to-day operations together with their sales management teams.

Also announced was the formation of the Ebby Halliday Foundation. Building on a lifetime of service by the foundation’s namesake and the simple saying she lived by, “Do something for someone every day,” the nonprofit organization will continue Ebby’s legacy of service to North Texas.

© 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.

BYD’s Electric Buses No Longer a Rarity

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It wasn’t that long ago that the idea of an electric bus was a novelty. Questions about range, cold weather operation, and charging time still had to be answered.

Today, China’s BYD is the clear world leader in the electric bus market, with more than 35,000 of the company’s pure electric buses in service across the globe at the end of 2017.

The environmental benefits are already substantial and growing.

Worldwide, 279,000 barrels a day less of fossil fuel are consumed because of zero emission buses, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. They also note that in China 9,500 new electric buses are going into service every five weeks.

In the U.S., regional transportation systems are increasingly going electric, with BYD signing a contract at the end of May with the University of Georgia to provide 21 pure electric buses.

BYD has sold more than 700 battery-electric buses and trucks to customers in the U.S. and Canada, which is more than any other manufacturer.

Replacing smelly diesel buses is a priority for cities as studies have linked asthma and other lung ailments to diesel exhaust.

The Union for Concerned Scientists note that, “Diesel-powered vehicles and equipment account for nearly half of all nitrogen oxides (NOx) and more than two-thirds of all particulate matter (PM) emissions from US transportation sources.”

In addition to the important benefits in helping to create a cleaner environment, BYD’s growing impact as an employer is also drawing attention.

BYD’s Stella Li, president of BYD Motors, notes the company just received the inaugural Select LA Foreign Direct Investment Award, recognizing its impact on the regional economy and jobs in Southern California.

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.

© 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.

Mouser Electronics Named Global High Service Distributor of the Year by TE Connectivity

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TE Connectivity recently honored Berkshire Hathaway’s Mouser Electronics with the 2017 Global High Service Distributor of the Year and the 2017 Customer Expansion Awards for Americas and EMEA regions.

The top distribution award, presented at the recent Electronics Distribution Show (EDS) in Las Vegas, recognized Mouser’s performance based on sales growth, market share growth, customer growth and business plan performance.

“I am proud to recognize Mouser Electronics for the impact they have on our mutual customers,” said Joan Wainwright, President of Channel and Customer Experience at TE. “Mouser has a long track record of achievement with TE, receiving TE’s Global High Service Distributor of the Year Award for five straight years. Mouser accomplished this through record sales in all regions and growing their TE customer base by 11 percent.”

“Mouser is greatly honored to receive this prestigious award, and we’d like to thank TE for recognizing the outstanding efforts of our teams around the world,” said Glenn Smith, Mouser Electronics’ President and CEO. “TE is an industry leader and a valued business partner. We look forward to our continued mutual success.”

Mouser also received TE’s 2017 AMER and EMEA Customer Expansion Awards at the recent TE Distribution Summit. Mouser successfully grew its TE business through continued strategic inventory investments, SKU count expansion, and global marketing initiatives that support the engineering needs of customers worldwide.

© 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.

Brooks Running Company Launches Personalized Performance Running Shoe

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Berkshire Hathaway’s Brooks Running Company has announced the Brooks Genesys—the company’s first personalized running shoe— will become available for runners in the U.S. in early 2019.

Genesys is the first running shoe created based on an individual’s unique biomechanics captured using HP Inc.’s innovative FitStation powered by HP. The shoe will be available nationwide through select retail partners in early 2019 and available globally soon after the U.S. launch.

“At Brooks we are focused on developing industry-leading innovations that deliver the best experience for runners. To achieve this vision, we continue to invest in in-depth biomechanics research and partnerships with key industry leaders,” said Brooks senior vice president of global footwear, Patrick Pons de Vier. “We believe the future of performance running is personalization, and the Brooks Genesys is the first step in delivering this experience to runners.”

The process begins with the runner getting scanned using FitStation powered by HP. Through a series of data captures—including 3D foot scans, dynamic gait analysis and foot pressure measurements—FitStation creates a unique digital profile of the individual based on their biomechanics.

To create a personalized Genesys for each runner, Brooks combines the runner’s digital profile with the company’s Run Signature principles, which indicate the best way to enhance comfort and improve performance is to create running footwear that works with the runner’s natural motion path of his or her body. The resulting data is translated into specific fit and feel requirements for each shoe and assembled using a state-of-the-art DESMA polyurethane injection-molding machine.

Brooks will launch Genesys in the U.S. with 1,914 limited-edition pairs which will be available via special order through select retail partners.

© 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.

BYD Debuts Short-Haul Truck at Port of Oakland

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BYD, the world’s largest electric vehicle company, has delivered the first battery-electric 8TT truck to the Port of Oakland.

The Class 8 truck was grant-funded by CARB and will be part of a three-year feasibility study to determine whether zero-emission trucks could replace diesel trucks.

The truck will be tested for short-haul operations by major California trucking operator, GSC Logistics, and used to shuttle cargo containers between their depot and Oakland marine terminals. As the largest motor carrier at the port, GSC hauls 120,000 containers of cargo across Northern California and Nevada annually. GSC manages 200 owner-operated trucks each day and currently operate five short-haul company trucks.

“BYD is proud to celebrate the deployment of our 8TT truck in partnership with CARB and GSC Logistics to prove that clean battery-electric transportation is reliable, sustainable and readily available for the drayage industry,” said BYD Motors President Stella Li.

By utilizing battery-electric trucks, companies like GSC can lower operating costs while significantly improving air quality through the elimination of pollution caused by diesel trucks. In addition to the cost savings andenvironmental and health benefits that come from converting to clean battery-electric technology, there are a number of other benefits such as reduced noise levels along busy trucking routes.

“We are eager to put this truck to the test and be part of an initiative that will not only help us save money, but positively impact the environment and change the future of transportation for years to come,” Said Brandon Taylor, Director of Transportation at GSC Logistics.

The Port of Oakland has already significantly reduced diesel pollution through clean truck programs. As they update their Maritime Air Quality Improvement Plan, zero-emissions technology will be emphasized.

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.

© 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.

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Named ‘Real Estate Agency Brand of The Year’

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Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices is the “Real Estate Agency Brand of the Year” and “Most Trusted Real Estate Brand” in the 30th annual Harris Poll EquiTrend® study.

More than 77,000 U.S. consumers rated 3,000 brands in about 300 categories in the online study earlier this year. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices received the highest ranking in the Real Estate Agency category based on consumers’ perception of its brand familiarity, quality and purchasing consideration, among other qualifying factors.

“We are honored to be recognized by consumers in the respected Harris Poll EquiTrend® study,” said Gino Blefari, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices president and CEO. “It’s a tribute to our franchisees’ tireless work and support of clients and the exemplary way they represent our brand in the marketplace.”

This year’s EquiTrend® study reflected an emerging trend in consumer behavior – the push to simplify and align with brands they know and trust. “Trust is earned,” said Blefari. “We are absolutely proud consumers chose our Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices as ‘Most Trusted Real Estate Brand.’ It speaks to the way our franchisees conduct business every day and deliver on their promises.”

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices has momentum in eyes of consumers. The brand was recognized for “Highest Overall Satisfaction for Repeat Home Sellers Among National Full Service Real Estate Firms” in J.D. Power’s 2017 Home Buyer/Seller Satisfaction Study.

“Our network professionals are passionate about client satisfaction and service,” said Blefari. “We are elated their hard work and dedication to their profession has been recognized by consumers.”

The 2018 Harris Poll EquiTrend® study measures and compares the brand health of companies. Respondents offer their perceptions of brands, gauging their emotional connection to them plus brand awareness, influence and familiarity.

© 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.

NetJets Pilots Can Fly Until Age 70 Under Proposed FAA Reauthorization Bill

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The FAA reauthorization bill currently under consideration by Congress would have a mandatory retirement age of 70 for NetJets pilots.

The mandatory age 70 retirement age for certain Part 135 and Part 91K pilots would apply only to companies that perform at least 150,000 turbojet operations in a calendar year. The only company that currently has that level of turbojet operations is NetJets.

The AARP has come out in opposition to any age limits as arbitrary.

“AARP has long opposed mandatory retirement; using an arbitrary age as a proxy for competence is wrong in any occupation, and it is wrong for pilots,” AARP stated in a letter to House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman Bill Shuster and ranking member Pete DeFazio.

“Pilots should be judged on the basis of their individual ability, flying skills, and their health, not on stereotypes or mistaken assumptions about their fitness based on age,” notes the nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, which has nearly 38 million members.

However, NetJets has come out in support of the age 70 retirement age.

“The lack of a pilot age restriction for large private air carriers is a growing concern in aviation safety,” NetJets said in a statement. “NetJets supports an amendment to the FAA Reauthorization bill that would impose an age restriction for pilots of large, private air carriers that is similar to the restriction that currently exists for commercial airlines. Such a restriction is an important safety measure for private carriers whose flight operations are comparable in size and complexity to their commercial counterparts. We hold passenger safety as our highest priority and we look forward to working with Congress on this common-sense regulation that will make air travel safer for everyone.”

© 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.

BNSF Proposes Idaho Bridge Project

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BNSF Railway is looking to build a second rail line over Lake Pend Oreille in Sandpoint, Idaho to reduce congestion on the current one-lane bridge.

The bridge would be adjacent to the existing rail bridge, and the project also includes new bridges over Sand Creek and Bridge Street in Sandpoint.

In Sandpoint, BNSF’s mainline track merges with Montana Rail Link, creating a bottleneck of multiple tracks merging into a single track across Lake Pend Oreille.

Since only one train can cross at a time, trains are often staged, leaving them idling and blocking local roadways while waiting to cross.

The upgrade will reduce congestion, and help move current freight traffic and future volumes more efficiently.

The bridge will also benefit passenger trains that run on BNSF’s main line.

When the second bridge is completed, trains will run in both directions, reducing the need to idle while waiting to cross the existing single track. As a result, local drivers could see shorter wait times on nearby roads that cross BNSF tracks, and the flow of freight and passenger trains will be improved throughout the region.

© 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.

TE Wire & Cable Partners With Plataine

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Berkshire Hathaway’s TE Wire & Cable, the world’s largest manufacturer of thermocouple wire, and Plataine, a leading provider of Industrial IoT and AI-based optimization software for advanced manufacturing, have announced a partnership for Smart Thermocouple solutions. Plataine’s IoT-based AI software tracks and analyzes the location, status and duty cycles of TE Wire & Cable’s thermocouples, enabling thermocouple users to view analytics, receive actionable alerts, insights and optimized recommendations.

TE Wire thermocouples are connected to Plataine’s software via a simple hardware infrastructure based on RFID tags and engraved barcodes. Plataine’s software monitors TE Wire’s thermocouples’ location, status and duty-cycles to provide automated real-time alerts & recommendations to optimize thermocouple calibration, refurbishment or replacement. The Plataine/TE Wire joint solution improves quality compliance, reduces the risk of using thermocouples that are no longer fit for purpose and eliminates manual tracking processes and production delays. A dedicated webpage allows users to plan ahead for efficient thermocouple utilization.

Plataine’s solution is scalable, helping manufacturers go further in their Digital Journey, track and optimize all assets including raw materials, tools, work-in-progress and finished parts. Plataine weaves a web of Digital Threads from raw-material to end-product, allowing thermocouples to be paired to molds and parts for full traceability in the event of quality issues or audits.

Combining Complementary Technologies

Bob Canny, President at TE Wire & Cable says: “Combining TE Wire & Cable and Plataine’s technologies enables our customers to extract additional value from their thermocouples and enter the era of Industry 4.0. For our customers, this will result in increased efficiencies and cost savings in their autoclave manufacturing operations.”

Avner Ben-Bassat, President & CEO at Plataine adds: “We are proud and excited to partner with TE Wire & Cable, jointly bringing to market the ‘Smart Thermocouple’ concept and revolutionizing a critical area of production, previously subject to manual data entry, lack of visibility and quality risks.”

TE Wire & Cable is a Marmon Wire & Cable/Berkshire Hathaway Company.

© 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.

NV Energy to Get into EV Charging Station Business

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Nevada, a state with lots of wide-open spaces, is looking to reduce range anxiety for electric vehicle owners.

Nevada’s Public Utility Commission has given the go ahead to NV Energy to own and operate EV charging stations.

The move is part of Nevada’s Strategic Planning Framework, which has the objective of completing an “electric highway” system serving the entire state by 2020.

NV Energy will commit $15 million to develop the charging stations.

The Nevada Governor’s Office of Energy (GOE), Nevada Department of Transportation (NDO) and Nevada’s electric utilities are expanding the state’s charging infrastructure to support EV deployment by internally connecting the state’s urban centers and providing corridor connectivity to the surrounding region.

Phase I will build charging stations on U.S. Highway 95. This first phase connects Reno and Las Vegas and eliminates range anxiety for EV owners while also bringing business to local communities.

The first two operational charging stations on U.S. 95 are located in Valley Electric Association’s service territory, at Eddie World in Beatty and in NV Energy’s service territory, at Fox Peak Gas Station in Fallon.

Charging stations are currently under development with NDOT in Hawthorne and Tonopah.

Phase II will include U.S. Interstate 15, U.S. Interstate 80, U.S. Highway 93, and U.S. Highway 50.

Electric Vehicle Charging Stations are placed at cost-effective and strategic locations along the Nevada’s major transportation corridors.

Each station is comprised of a minimum of one Direct Current Fast Charger and two Level 2 Chargers. Direct Current (DC) Fast Chargers can charge a vehicle in less than an hour; Level 2 chargers typically require several hours for a full charge.

© 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.