New Mexico officials Choose Berkshire Hathaway-backed BYD to Participate in a Statewide Purchase Agreement

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New Mexico officials have chosen Berkshire Hathaway-backed BYD Co. to participate in a statewide purchase agreement that gives transit agencies throughout New Mexico and the United States the ability to buy American-made BYD coaches and buses.

The vehicles, which comply with strict Buy America standards, are manufactured in ISO 9001-certified American factory, guaranteeing quality, safety, and efficiency in every aspect of design, production, and customer care.

“This contract is a big win for transit agencies looking for reliable zero-emission technology that will help them meet their sustainability goals while reducing maintenance,” said Patrick Duan, BYD North America Senior Vice President. “BYD is the first battery-electric bus manufacturer that has both a unionized workforce and a Community Benefits Agreement, which sets goals for hiring veterans, single parents, second chance citizens, and others facing hurdles in obtaining manufacturing employment.”

Buses included in the agreement are the 30-foot K7M, the 35-foot K8M, the 40-foot K9M, and the 60-foot K11M, the first articulated bus to successfully complete the new “Pass/Fail” protocol at the Federal Transit Administration Model Bus Testing Program in Altoona, Pa. Motor coaches included in the agreement are the 23-foot C6M, 40-foot C9M, and 45-foot C10M.

BYD buses have achieved more than 15 million emission-free miles in revenue service throughout the United States. There are more than 1,000 BYD battery-electric buses built or ordered for U.S. customers. Every American-built zero-emission BYD bus eliminates approximately 1,690 tons of CO2 over its 12-year lifespan, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

This purchasing agreement is available to any recipient or sub-recipient of Federal Transit Administration funding, regardless of geographic location. The contract is for one year with three one-year options.

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 over thirty-five-fold.

© 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.

Commentary: Is Berkshire Hathaway Moving Closer to Acquiring DaVita?

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Is DaVita Inc. (DVA) an acquisition target for Berkshire Hathaway? It is no secret that the Berkshire has long held a stake in the kidney dialysis provider.

Berkshire’s stake in DaVita goes back to 2012, when it began buying a million shares a month.

Why DaVita?

DaVita, which has over 200,000 daily dialysis clients in the U.S. and ten other countries, is the kind of predictable, steady business that Warren Buffett covets.

What is New?

Back in 2013, Berkshire Hathaway agreed to standstill agreement whereby it would not increase its stake in DaVita beyond 25%. However, in recent years its stake has crossed the 30% threshold, with Berkshire revealing on February 16, 2021, that it had boosted its position to a 33% stake.

Could Berkshire’s increased stake in DaVita be the prelude to an acquisition? That’s the question that both Berkshire and DaVita investors may start asking.

© 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.

Warren Buffett’s Bet on Japan’s Trading Companies Pays Off

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Warren Buffett’s bet on Japan’s leading trading companies is paying off handsomely as the Nikkei 225 surpassed 30,000 on Monday for the first time in almost 31 years.

Berkshire Hathaway’s purchase of just over 5% of Itochu Corp., Marubeni Corp., Mitsubishi Corp., Mitsui & Co., and Sumitomo Corp., were bought on the open market in 2020, and were first revealed in August 2020.

All the companies have moved up sharply over the past six months, with shares of Itochu Corp. up 27%, Marubeni Corp. up 29%, Mitsubishi Corp. up 25%, Mitsui & Co. 16%, and Sumitomo Corp. up 20%.

The combined stake was worth roughly $6.5 billion when it was announced on August 31, 2020.

The shares were purchased by Berkshire Hathaway’s wholly-owned National Indemnity Company, and the company said at the time that the intention was to hold its Japanese investments for the long term. Berkshire also disclosed that it may increase its holdings up to a maximum of 9.9% in any of the five investments.

The investment is not vulnerable to currency fluctuations, as Berkshire Hathaway has 625.5 billion of yen-denominated bonds outstanding, maturing at various dates beginning in 2023 and ending in 2060. Consequently, the company has only minor exposure to yen/dollar movements.

© 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.

Forest River Goes Electric With GreenPower’s Electric Cab and Chassis

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Berkshire Hathaway’s recreational vehicle manufacturer, Forest River, Inc., has signed a deal with GreenPower Motor Company Inc. in order to launch a new line of Forest River zero-emission product offerings.

GreenPower entered into an exclusive purchase agreement, related to Cutaway minibuses and Type B and C Recreational Vehicles, with Forest River to deliver up to 150 GreenPower EV Star Cab and Chassis.

It is anticipated that the initial deliveries of GreenPower’s EV Star CC units to Forest River will be directed at the cutaway shuttle bus, commercial truck and recreational vehicle markets.

Greenpower expects to deliver the first six units of the purpose-built all-electric EV Star CC this quarter, with the remainder expected to be delivered over the next 36 months at a run rate that will be determined by the third quarter of 2021.

Brendan Riley, President of GreenPower, commented, “Forest River is a forward-thinking company that is looking to solidify their market position long into the future by adding a purpose-built, zero-emission offering to many of their product lines.” Riley added, “The EV Star Cab and Chassis meets the demands of many of their addressable markets and allows Forest River to focus on what they are experts at: building bodies.”

David Wright, President of Forest River’s bus divisions added, “Forest River has been looking for a purpose-built all-electric chassis that has the range and the carrying capacity that our customers and dealers demand. Zero-emission vehicles are where the markets are going, and the GreenPower EV Star CC gives us the flexibility to address a variety of unmet needs in the commercial market.”

Wholly-owned by Berkshire Hathaway, Forest River has over 10,000 employees and annual revenues in excess of $5 Billion.

© 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: Why Index Funds Are Good for a Certain Type of Investor

Investing is not just about return, it is also about peace of mind, and Warren Buffett sees the value of index funds, such as those tracking the S&P 500, in accomplishing that goal, especially for inexperienced investors that might be prone to worry, or easily convinced by others to take on risky investments.

“What is the best investment, meaning one that there would be less worry of any kind connected with and less people coming around and saying, ‘Why don’t you sell this and do something else?’ and all those things,” Buffett explained at the 2017 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting. It is even an investment he would recommend for his wife after she inherits his assets, not that she would be selling her Berkshire Hathaway stock. “The object is not to maximize. It doesn’t make any difference whether the amount she gets doubles or triples or anything of the sort. The important thing is that she never worries about money the rest of her life.”

Speaking of money and worry, Buffett tells the story of his elderly aunt.

“I had an Aunt Katie here in Omaha, who Charlie knew well, and worked for her husband, as did I. And she worked very hard all her life. And had lived in a house she’d paid, I think, I don’t know, $8,000 for at 45th and Hickory all her life. And because she was in Berkshire, she ended up, she lived to 97, she ended up with, you know, a few hundred million. And she would write me a letter every four or five months. And she said, ‘Dear Warren, you know, I hate to bother you. But am I going to run out of money?’ And… I would write her back. And I’d say, ‘Dear Katie, it’s a good question because, if you live 986 years, you’re going to run out of money.’”

Buffett’s full explanation on index funds

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 Railway Gets Patent for Capacity-Boosting Virtual Track Block System

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BNSF Railway Company may soon be carry as much as 25% more freight over parts of its existing rail system, all without building additional track.

BNSF successfully received a patent for a virtual track block system that it says can greatly boost mainline capacity and average track speeds. It can also aid in the detection of broken rails.

The patent issued on January 19, 2021, is described as “A method of railroad track control includes partitioning a physical track block into a plurality of virtual track blocks.”

Using conventional block signaling, track capacity cannot be increased without additional track infrastructure, such as additional signals and associated control equipment. And, conventional block signaling systems cannot identify broken rail within an unoccupied block.

By using “virtual track blocks”, train block spacing is reduced to accurately reflect train braking capabilities. In particular, train spacing is maintained within a physical track block by identifying train position with respect to virtual track blocks within that physical track block. This alleviates the need for wayside signals, since train braking distance is maintained onboard the locomotives instead of through wayside signal aspects. In addition, by partitioning the physical track blocks into multiple virtual track blocks, broken rail can be detected within an occupied physical track block.

© 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 Railway Announces $1.1 billion in 2020 Economic Development Results

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BNSF Railway Company has reported investments from customers served by the freight rail provider in 2020 totaled approximately $1.1 billion.

Large investments from customers including Coldpoint Logistics, Delta Peanut and Ingredion contributed to the sum.

As a result of customer investments, BNSF projects the creation of more than 1,700 new jobs in local communities.

This marks the 10th consecutive year that BNSF customers and local economic development organizations have invested more than $1 billion in a calendar year for new or expanded facilities.

“At BNSF, our rail development program offers unique supply chain solutions that fit our customers’ varied logistical needs.” said Colby Tanner, assistant vice president, economic development. “The flexibility of our program provides our customers with the necessary tools to maximize their investments, while saving them time and money in reaching their distinct markets.”

In 2020, new developments supported a wide variety of commodities including consumer, agricultural and industrial products in communities across the BNSF network. Highlights of supply chain solutions BNSF helped its customers achieve in 2020 include:

• Coldpoint Logistics – With a $25 million investment, the cold storage solutions provider opened phase four of their facility located at BNSF’s Logistics Park Kansas City, adding 150,000 square feet of additional space and creating 75 jobs for local communities.

• Delta Peanut – At their facility in Jonesboro, Arkansas, Delta Peanut invested $70 million to add two tracks to their facility for shipping outbound peanuts, creating 130 jobs.

• Ingredion – Invested more than $100 million in South Sioux City, NE and created approximately 50 new roles in the community.

© 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.

BYD’s Buses to Feed Power Back Into London’s Grid

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Berkshire Hathaway-backed BYD, the world’s leading electric bus manufacturer, is gearing up for the switching-on of the world’s first high-power discharge Bus2Grid project at Go-Ahead London’s Northumberland Park bus depot.

Using “Vehicle-2-Grid,” or V2G, technology the project will demonstrate the ability to use energy stored aboard a BYD ADL battery-electric bus to be fed back into London’s power network. Vehicles are recharged overnight when energy demand is low, and tariffs cheaper, with electricity fed back to the grid when demand is high, thus helping to balance the network and increase efficiency.

BYD UK, through its partnership with Alexander Dennis Ltd. (ADL), is supplying 28 BYD ADL Enviro 400EV double deck eBuses which, using smart technology, will provide bi-directional charging capable of feeding energy back to the power grid.

The project represents a notable contribution from the bus sector towards the UK government’s commitment to deliver “net zero” greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

With its world-class battery, motor and core technology expertise, BYD has been instrumental in the project from the outset by delivering a total battery-electric bus management solution. Alongside its partners, BYD is the first company in the commercial vehicle sector to provide high-power discharge technology as a V2G capability for electric buses.

The Bus2Grid consortium is led by energy provider SSE Enterprise in partnership with BYD Europe, UK Power Networks and Leeds University. Funding for the project comes from the UK government through its delivery partner, Innovate UK. Further support comes from technology provider, Origami and Transport for London. This consortium has seen excellent cooperation between the automotive industry, the energy community and academia in bringing forth pioneering V2G technology into public transport.

Go-Ahead London’s 28 V2G battery-electric buses from BYD ADL will be part of a total fleet of 120 electric vehicles at what is set to become UK’s largest electric bus garage with overnight charging capability at Northumberland Park. While current COVID-19 lockdown restrictions prevent the setting of a specific “switch on” date, the Bus2Grid project is nonetheless gearing-up for operations to commence in the summer 2021.

BYD, in partnership with Alexander Dennis Ltd. (ADL), is also a leading player in the UK electric bus market. ADL is a subsidiary of leading independent global bus manufacturer, the NFI Group Inc. The 28 BYD ADL double decks for the Bus2Grid project are part of a larger fleet order from Go-Ahead London delivered in 2020 comprising 49 Enviro 400EV double decks. There are now in excess of 500 BYD ADL pure-electric buses either delivered or on order with operators across the UK, to date clocking-up over 16 million emission-free miles since 2015.

“We share a vision with our project partners to deliver a cleaner, sustainable future,” said BYD UK Managing Director, Frank Thorpe, “we have a common goal to realize the full potential of eMobility. Soon, we will be actually generating energy for London’s power grid, as well as delivering safe, clean, emissions-free public transport to the nation’s capital. We’re very proud to be part of the project team and to be supporting Go-Ahead London as it begins the V2G project. “This Bus2Grid project also has huge potential elsewhere in the UK,” he said, “it is a movable energy storage system with the capacity to deliver significant quantities of electricity to help balance a city’s power grid and optimize its energy management system.”

Kevin Welstead, EV Sector Director for SSE Enterprise, said: “If we’re going to make real progress in decarbonising transport and hitting climate change targets, we need to optimise the existing flexibility within the energy system.”

“Developing a charging infrastructure that operates in two directions so that batteries can give back as well as take from the grid is an important part of this. Delivering the Bus2Grid project is the next natural step in using smart technology to make bidirectional charging the reality for today’s bus users.”

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 over thirty-five-fold.

© 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: How to Evaluate the Quality of a Company’s Management

Companies need to provide quality goods or services, and they also good management that can chart a course to long term profitability. How can an investor evaluate the quality of the management? According to Warren Buffett, it all comes down to two things.

“Well, I think you judge management by two yardsticks,” Warren Buffett explained at the 1994 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting. “One is how well they run the business, and I think you can learn a lot about that by reading about both what they’ve accomplished and what their competitors have accomplished, and seeing how they have allocated capital over time. You have to have some understanding of the hand they were dealt when they themselves got a chance to play the hand. But, if you understand something about the business they’re in, and you can’t understand it in every business, but you can find industries or companies where you can understand it, then you simply want to look at how well they have been doing in playing the hand, essentially, that’s been dealt with them. And then the second thing you want to figure out is how well that they treat their owners.”

Buffett’s full explanation on evaluating the quality of a company’s management

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.

Berkshire Hathaway’s Brooks Running Has Record Revenues

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Berkshire Hathaway’s running shoe company, Brooks Running, ended 2020 with global revenue of nearly $850 million, an increase of 27 percent year over year.

“In 2020, the Brooks team stayed very close to the runner for cues on how to navigate the uncertainty caused by global retail and supply chain disruptions,” said Jim Weber, CEO at Brooks Running. “We quickly found new demand signals to track shifts in running participation and shopping behavior and acted decisively to engage runners and gain market share in every channel of distribution.”

While markets were interrupted with inventory disruptions from the impact of COVID-19, Brooks’ market share grew around the globe. At retail, Brooks was the No. 4 adult performance running footwear brand in the U.S. in 2020 with 8.5% dollar share, up 1.8 points year over year.

In the same period, the Brooks Ghost became the No. 1 franchise for adult performance running in the total and run specialty markets combined.

Brooks’ investment in its consumer research Run-Sight Lab and singular focus on runners was a major advantage and contributed to 2020 success. With these insights, the brand quickly adjusted its communication approach and reinforced its omni-channel distribution support to engage with runners and make sure they could find Brooks whenever and wherever they chose to research and shop.

Brooks’ Sales & Operations team created a process that included a new demand model to replace retailer signals with cues coming from digital sell-through and running participation. By the middle of the year, this customer-focused process gave the brand the confidence that demand for Brooks was exceeding previous year sales, prompting a green light to reignite production to meet demand.

Brooks gained more than 3 points of performance running dollar-share among runners in 2020 compared to 2019 and for the first time ever became the No. 2 brand among runners based on dollar-share position*. Within the final two months of 2020, Brooks was the No. 1 adult performance running footwear brand in the athletic specialty/sporting goods (ASSG) channel, generating powerful momentum leading into 2021.

In 2020, during brick-and-mortar retail closures, Brooks sales online shifted north of 75%, stabilizing at 46% by year end. With the runner in control of their shopping journey, Brooks’ multi-channel presence mattered as they moved from physical stores to online shopping.

Brooks believes its ability to deliver on its “Run Happy” promise to customers starts within its own walls; when COVID-19 hit, the health and safety of Brooks employees was the company’s top priority. Over the course of the year, Brooks invested in developing its leaders and managers to lead execution and model the brand’s core values at scale via virtual engagements and platforms.

Over the past 12 months, Brooks’ active employee count surpassed 1,000 as the company added nearly 100 employees and retained talent with zero layoffs throughout the year.

© 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.