Berkshire Utilities Rack Up Millions in Benefits as Western Energy Imbalance Market Surpasses $400 million

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Berkshire Hathaway’s utilities NV Energy and PacifiCorp racked up over $16 million in benefits in the 2nd quarter through their participation in the Western Energy Imbalance Market.

In 2014, Berkshire Hathaway Energy’s PacifiCorp agreed to become the first participant in a new Energy Imbalance Market (EIM) as a way to balance electricity in-flows and out-flows on a regional basis and bring millions of dollars in benefits to participating utilities.

The Western Energy Imbalance Market total benefits have now surpassed $400 million.

For the 2nd quarter, Berkshire Hathaway’s NV Energy showed benefits of $5.34 million and Berkshire’s PacifiCorp achieved benefits of $11.67 million.

The Western EIM’s state-of-art technology automatically finds and delivers the lowest cost energy to serve more than 42 million consumers in eight western states, and extending to the border with Canada. In addition to optimizing diverse resources from a larger pool for lower costs, the EIM favors carbon-free generation, an added environmental benefit.

The market is poised to grow, with the Balancing Authority of Northern California/Sacramento Municipal Utility District (BANC/SMUD) set to begin participating in April 2019. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Salt River Project of Phoenix, and Seattle City Light will follow in April 2020.

© 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 Provides $2 Billion Loan to Seritage Growth Properties

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Seritage Growth Properties a national owner of 249 properties totaling over 39 million square feet of gross leasable area, announced today that the Company has entered into a $2.0 billion term loan facility (the “Term Loan Facility”) with Berkshire Hathaway Life Insurance Company of Nebraska.

“This new financing is a transformational step in the evolution of our Company, which we started three years ago, and positions us to further accelerate our role as a leading retail and mixed-use developer across the country,” said Benjamin Schall, President and Chief Executive Officer. “We very much appreciate Berkshire Hathaway’s confidence in our team and platform, and are energized by our growing opportunities to create lasting value for our shareholders, partners and local communities.”

The $2.0 billion Term Loan Facility, which matures on July 31, 2023, provides for an initial funding of $1.6 billion at closing (the “Initial Funding”) and includes a committed $400 million incremental funding facility (the “Incremental Funding Facility”). Funded amounts under the Term Loan Facility bear interest at a fixed annual rate of 7.00%, while amounts available under Incremental Funding Facility will be subject to a 1.00% annual fee until drawn.

The Company used a portion of the proceeds from the Initial Funding to fully repay its outstanding mortgage loan and unsecured term loan. Net proceeds from the Initial Funding, combined with existing balance sheet cash and the release of cash reserves held by the previous lender as of June 30, 2018, provide the Company with over $600 million of cash liquidity, in addition to access to the $400 million Incremental Funding Facility.

© 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.

BYD to Bring Pure Electric Refuse Trucks to Seattle

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Refuse removal helps keep your home clean, but it is one of the more polluting environmental hazards when it comes to the diesel emissions from refuse trucks. Fortunately, that’s changing thanks to China’s BYD.

BYD has announced that the first electric refuse trucks to operate in the city of Seattle, and the entire Pacific Northwest region, are ordered and will soon be helping to deliver on a cleaner environment.

Two of BYD’s 8R Class-8 battery-electric refuse trucks, fitted with New Way Viper Rear Loader refuse bodies, will be delivered to Recology in Seattle for use in residential solid waste pick up.

BYD’s zero-emission battery-electric Class-8 truck chassis boasts optimal efficiency with regenerative braking and best-in-class power and torque. In addition to the environmental and financial benefits of zero-emissions and reduced operating costs, BYD’s electric trucks are quiet and clean, which has an immediate impact on quality of life for the communities they serve.

“We are excited to be the first to deploy electric refuse trucks to the Pacific Northwest region, demonstrating that clean, zero-emissions technology is the smart, sustainable choice for heavy industry,” said BYD Motors President, Stella Li.

New Way, a family-owned business since 1971, manufactures a complete line of refuse equipment including the Viper mid-compaction Rear Loader bodies in Scranton, IA. With outside cylinders and operating valve, New Way’s streamlined Viper design offers increased efficiency, safety and value.

“By combining the innovative design of our Viper Rear Loader body with BYD’s zero-emissions battery-electric technology, we can produce the most efficient and sustainable refuse truck available on the market today,” said Don Ross, New Way Vice President of Sales and Marketing.

Recology, an employee-owned company with more than 100 years’ experience in the waste industry, provides service to communities up and down the West Coast. The Recology mission represents a fundamental shift from traditional waste management to resource recovery. The vision at Recology is to create a world without waste by developing and discovering sustainable resource recovery practices that can be implemented globally.

Recology’s electric trucks will serve customers in the City of Seattle and mark an important step in realizing climate impacts that address the region’s growing need to prioritize resiliency. Especially for collection services that require heavy-duty trucks to frequent roads in these communities on a daily basis, electric trucks present a sustainable solution that both Recology and its customers can feel good about.

“Together with our industry partners, BYD and New Way, we can be a catalyst to affect positive, sustainable change, setting the stage for what a 21st century refuse truck should look like,” said Derek Ruckman, Vice President and Group Manager in the Pacific Northwest at Recology.

The electric refuse trucks are scheduled to be delivered in the first half of 2019.

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.

Lubrizol Takes Stake in One Ocean Beauty

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Lubrizol has acquired a minority stake in One Ocean Beauty, a New York-based cosmetics company that uses kelp and algae in its products.

The company says that the microorganisms living in extreme ocean environments develop unique survival properties to protect themselves against UV radiation, pollution and physical damage.

“This investment represents our commitment to nurturing the next generation of beauty brands. As more customers turn to clean beauty and socially-committed companies, we see this as a compelling opportunity in this space,” Brandon Ford, Chief Accelerator Director of Lubrizol Skin Essentials, said.

One Ocean Beauty was founded by industry veteran Marcella Cacci. Cacci has a track record in both beauty and luxury and was part of the Burberry repositioning team that took Burberry public in 2002. She established Burberry Beauty driving retail sales to over $500M. Known for her innovative and strategic thinking, Cacci has developed a 360 degree, socially-aware concept that is completely in tune with the zeitgeist. Select key advisors for One Ocean Beauty include Fabien Baron (Baron & Baron) for creative advisory, and Oz Garcia for nutricosmetic development.

“The partnership with Lubrizol is a significant step in developing our unique product offering and remaining on the cutting edge of technology – the team at Lubrizol shares our vision for clean beauty and conscious consumerism. We are excited to launch a new business model that is in tune with changing customer behaviors,” Marcella Cacci, Founder and CEO of One Ocean Beauty, said.

© 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.

PacifiCorp Receives Final Approvals for Wind Power Plan

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Berkshire Hathaway’s utility PacifiCorp has received the final two state approvals needed for its wind power plan in Wyoming and Washington.

The plan includes 1,311 MW of new wind power, repowering just over 999 MW of existing wind capacity, and the new 140-mile, 500 kilovolt (kV) Aeolus-to-Bridger/Anticline transmission line in Wyoming.

Collectively, these resources contribute to meeting the capacity need identified in PacifiCorp’s updated load-and-resource balance and are on track to be in service by the end of 2020.

Through the end of 2036, the updated preferred portfolio includes over 2,700 MW of new wind resources, 1,860 MW of new solar resources, 1,877 MW of incremental energy efficiency resources, and approximately 268 MW of direct-load control resources.

This is the first time an Integrated Resource Plan has not included new fossil-fueled generation as a least-cost, least-risk resource for PacifiCorp.

© 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.

GEICO to Hire 400 IT Professionals in Indianapolis

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

GEICO is now hiring up to 400 software engineers, IT architects and analysts for the new IT Center of Excellence at its expanded site in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Career opportunities are available from entry to senior levels.

GEICO’s Center of Excellence seeks to develop innovative methods to better serve customers.

“We are excited about building a strong team that will play an essential role in helping GEICO create state-of-the-art cloud software applications,” said Katie Sauls, GEICO Indianapolis’ director of IT. “We are looking to hire those who can unleash creative ways to use tomorrow’s technology to lead the way to better customer interaction.”

GEICO IT received a prestigious 2017 Top Companies for Women Technologists Award from AnitaB.org for creating a “culture that revolves around promoting diversity and inclusion” and offering “programs for entry level technologists and management that provide ongoing training for continued professional growth.”

GEICO has been named as a “Top Workplace” by the Indianapolis Star for three consecutive years, and is ranked as the top global insurance group in the world based on revenue and as one of Fortune magazine’s “World’s Most Admired Companies.”

© 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 Restrictions Creates Rush for New Tank Cars

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

After BNSF suffered a June derailment that saw ruptured tank cars spill some 230,000 gallons of crude oil spilled into an Iowa river, the class 1 railroad has reportedly responded by limiting the number of retrofitted tank cars called DOT 117Rs.

According to Reuters, BNSF banned the retrofitted cars, which were the type of cars that leaked in the Iowa spill, from all new contracts. The move sent refiners and producers scrambling to lease new tank cars.

BNSF has not confirmed the restriction.

The lease price of new tank cars has more than doubled from $400 a month last year to $1,000 today.

BNSF does not own the tank cars that run on its lines hauling crude oil and ethanol. The cars are owned by companies such as ConocoPhillips, or leased from brokers.

Ironically, BNSF, which is owned by Berkshire Hathaway, is limiting the very tank cars that are retrofitted by UTLX, another Berkshire company. UTLX has retrofitted almost 5,000 DOT-111 tank cars to the new DOT-117R standards.

In 2016, UTLX opened a tank car remanufacturing facility in Marion, Ohio to bring older tank cars up to DOT-117R standards and continue to be used for flammable liquids service.

The retrofits includes new top fittings protection, thermal insulation, an 11-gauge steel jacket, full ½-inch thick head shields, and a bottom outlet valve handle that disengages from the valve when the car is in transit.

© 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.

Arkansas Dairy Queen Breaks One-Day Record

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

“Everything old is new again,” goes the old saying. That’s definitely true for Dairy Queen, which is proving to be one of the hottest brands around.

A new Dairy Queen in Cabot, Arkansas has opened to DQ-record-breaking business. The store claims to have set a DQ record for the most transactions in one day and a worldwide DQ record for highest one-day sales, which included “outpacing all 7,000 DQ stores in the company’s 78-year history.”

DQ devotees began camping out on the restaurant patio at 7:30 p.m. of the previous day to earn one of 100 tickets for free Chicken Strip Baskets for one year with the purchase of a DQ cake on opening day.

Even before the July 13 opening, the central Arkansas store had been actively building its social media presence, encouraging DQ fans to sign up for text alerts and getting back an image for them to “post and tag” the new Cabot store.

For more information on Dairy Queen’s world-wide plans, read a Mazor’sEdge special report on Dairy Queen.

© 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.

Nebraska Furniture Mart to Move Des Moines Store to Larger Location

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Nebraska Furniture Mart will move its Des Moines, Iowa store.

The current 44,000-square-foot-store, which is actually in the town of Clive, will close and the furniture and appliance retailer will move to a site currently occupied by an empty former Dahl’s Food grocery store.

The new location is also in Clive, and will enable Nebraska Furniture Mart to feature more merchandise in the renovated 65,000-square-foot-building. The current location opened in 1993.

The new 65,000-square-foot location will still be small when compared to the company’s mega-store outside of Dallas, Texas, which clocks in at a massive 560,000-square-feet and is the largest store in the state.

Ryan Blumkin, vice president of Nebraska Furniture Mart, told the Des Moines Register that the new location will enable the retailer to increase its focus on retail customers. The Des Moines location has had a heavy emphasis on selling to contractors.

The opening is scheduled for spring 2019.

© 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.