McLane Expands Florida Distribution Center

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Berkshire Hathaway’s McLane Company is constructing roughly 300,000-square-foot addition to its distribution center in Northwest Ocala, Florida.

McLane Company is reportedly spending more than $26.5 million to enlarge the facility.

McLane will add 125 new jobs in Ocala when the expansion is completed.

McLane is one of the largest supply chain services leaders, providing grocery and foodservice supply chain solutions for convenience stores, mass merchants, drug stores and chain restaurants throughout the United States. McLane, through McLane Grocery and McLane Foodservice, operates over 80 distribution centers across the U.S. and one of the nation’s largest private fleets. The company buys, sells and delivers more than 50,000 different consumer products to nearly 110,000 locations across the U.S. In addition, McLane provides alcoholic beverage distribution through its wholly owned subsidiary, Empire Distributors, Inc.

© 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.

Berkadia Secures Financing for Multifamily Property in Salt Lake City

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Berkadia, Berkshire Hathaway’s joint venture with Leucadia National Corporation, has announced the recent financing of Egate Apartments, a garden-style multifamily property in Salt Lake City. Senior Managing Director Kevin Kozminske of the St. Louis office and Managing Director Art Tuverson of the San Clemente, California office secured the 35-year permanent refinancing on behalf of Utah-based EGate Partners LLC. The deal closed July 26.

The loan, secured through the HUD FHA 223(F) program, features a fixed interest rate at 3.40 percent.

“We are excited to get Egate Apartments closed,” said Kozminske. “It was an excellent transaction for HUD providing work force housing in the market.”

About Berkadia

Founded in 2009 as a 50/50 joint venture between Berkshire Hathaway and Leucadia National Corporation, Berkadia is a third-party commercial mortgage servicer, as well as an approved lender for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and HUD/FHA.

The company is among the top Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae multifamily lenders.

Berkadia owes its origins to GMAC Commercial Mortgage Corporation, which was acquired in 2009 by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., Five Mile Capital Partners LLC, and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners. Christened Capmark Financial, the company had $10 billion of originations in 2008 and a servicing portfolio of more than $360 billion before running into bankruptcy in October 2009.

In a deal approved by the bankruptcy court, Capmark sold its mortgage loan and servicing to the newly formed Berkadia in a deal worth $515 million.

The deal brought Berkshire into the heart of the commercial loan serving business, and the company has one of the largest commercial real estate servicing portfolios.

© 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.

3G Sells Some of Its Kraft Heinz Shares

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As of the end of the second quarter, Warren Buffett still appears to be confident in Kraft Heinz, but not so 3G Capital, which partnered with Berkshire Hathaway in 2015 to merge Heinz with Kraft.

3G sold 20.6 million shares of its stake in Kraft Heinz on Tuesday, August 7, at $59.85 per share

3G still owns 270.1 million shares, second only to Berkshire Hathaway’s
325,634,818 shares.

Down from Kraft Heinz’s 52-wk high of $85.16, the stock has recently been in the doldrums, trading just below $60.

3G’s 7% reduction in its Kraft Heinz stake comes as consumers have become increasingly indifferent to many of the brands that were popular over the last fifty years.

In April, at the 2018 Milken Institute Global Conference, 3G’s Jorge Paulo Lemann said, “I’m a terrified dinosaur,” when referring to the disruption for legacy brands that comes from changing consumer tastes.

Kraft Heinz has been trying to add new products to its familiar brands that include Classico, Jell-O, Kool-Aid, Lunchables, Maxwell House, Ore-Ida, Oscar Mayer, Philadelphia, Planters, Plasmon, Quero, Smart Ones and Velveeta.

In May 2018, the company announced that its new Springboard Incubator Program would launch five disruptive brands that included antioxidant lemonades, avocado-based sauces, egg-white chips, fermented kraut, and South-African biltong & droëwors.

© 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 Coming to Montreal

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BYD Canada has received orders for nine long range, zero emission, battery-electric buses.

The orders came the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) and the Réseau de transport de Longueuil (RTL).
RTL will receive five 30-foot buses and STM will receive an order of four of the same model.

The buses will make an immediate improvement to air quality and noise levels in both cities. These buses alone will deliver a reduction in carbon emissions of more than 600 metric tons each year. This will mean a total reduction of 7200 tons over the operating life of the vehicles.

“Long range Electric Battery buses make sense in Quebec,” said BYD Canada’s Vice President Ted Dowling. “We are using Hydro Quebec’s clean electricity to charge our buses overnight. This is the best use of surplus power and will save STM and RTL over $100,000 a year in diesel costs.”

The order from Longueuil was BYD Canada’s first order of heavy duty electric buses in Quebec. Together with STM’s order in Montreal this is the beginning of a large transit transformation to zero emission vehicles in the Province.

“The buses are the first of what we hope will become an important part of the fleets in both communities and others in Quebec,” said Dowling. “This would not have happened without the climate change leadership shown by Mayors Valerie Plante and Sylvie Parent, in Montreal and Longueuil, along with the support of their transit agency leaders in STM and RTL.”

The order puts STM and RTL ahead of the Federal Ministry of Environment and Climate Change’s new carbon pollution regulations for heavy-duty vehicles starting in 2020.

BYD is the world leader in zero emission buses. BYD Canada was the pioneer in Canada and is now the market leader. In addition to this ground-breaking order in Quebec, BYD Canada has buses on order or in operation in Toronto, Victoria, and St. Albert and Grand Prairie in Alberta.

There are over 35,000 BYD electric buses currently in service worldwide.

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.

Rebhan & Associates Joins Berkshire’s Real Living Real Estate Brand

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Real Living Real Estate, one of the nation’s leading real estate franchisors and a member of the HSF Affiliates LLC family of real estate brokerage franchise networks, today announced that Rebhan & Associates has joined the network and is operating as Real Living Carolinas Real Estate.

Real Living Real Estate is a network brand of HSF Affiliates LLC, whose parent company is HomeServices of America, Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate.

Rebhan & Associates remains independently owned and operated by real estate veterans James and Kathleen Rebhan and serves buyers and sellers in the counties of Mecklenburg, Union, Iredell, Gaston, Cabarrus, Lancaster and York.

Kathleen Rebhan said joining the Real Living brokerage network was a natural choice as both organizations share a common philosophy focused on the needs of clients. “Real Living is the most recognized and highest-rated brand among the only group that counts – consumers,” she said. “As a brokerage, we understand that leveraging the Real Living brand name, as well as the support of its parent companies, would position the company competitively in the Charlotte market.”

In 2017, Real Living network brokers and agents earned an unprecedented 98% customer satisfaction rating for 2017, according to independent ratings service Quality Service Certification, Inc. (QSC).

Jim Rebhan added that the brand will appeal to buyers throughout the bustling Charlotte area. “We believe that people moving to the Carolinas will place more value on a brand that connects with clients and the reasons they move,” he said. “Charlotte is a world-class leader in financial services and other industries, and an incomparable hub of opportunity for families and individuals looking to call the region home.”

Rebhan added that the collaborative efforts provided by Real Living will allow Real Living Carolinas Real Estate agents to provide an even higher level of service to clients while encouraging new agents to join the firm. With their network membership, the brokerage also gains access to Real Living’s customized tools and resources.

“Real Living Carolinas Real Estate brings a unique consumer-centric approach that strongly aligns with the Real Living brand,” said Allan Dalton, chief operating officer of Real Living Real Estate. “The brokerage accepts that as lifestyle advisors they’re doing more than marketing homes, but instead marketing overall lifestyles. To many people in the region, and particularly Charlotte, the Carolinas represent where real living begins.”

Real Living Carolinas Real Estate is highly specialized in residential and commercial real estate, relocation services, property management, REO and short-sale transactions. The company also boasts a Senior Preferred Services Division and is recognized as a certified diversity supplier for real estate services for the Charlotte metropolitan area.

Kathleen Rebhan believes the brand will have particular appeal among the company’s home-selling clients. “A major reason why we joined Real Living has to do with their innovative and client-centric approach to marketing homes, specifically through the Real Living Customized Home Marketing SystemSM. The system and our agents focus on personalizing a plan, not only for each individual property, but also how it celebrates and promotes the overall lifestyle of each home for sale. This is a true departure from our industry’s one-size-fits-all approach to home marketing,” she said.

The full-service brokerage is proud to be nationally certified as a Women’s Business Enterprise.

© 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

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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.

Berkadia Announces $47.7 Million in Sales of Multifamily Properties in North Carolina & South Carolina

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Berkadia, Berkshire Hathaway’s joint venture with Leucadia National Corporation, has announced the $16.7 million sale of Abbey Court, and the $31 million sale of Legends at Charleston Park, two garden-style multifamily properties in Belmont, North Carolina and North Charleston, South Carolina, respectively.

Managing Director Mark Boyce and Associate Director Blake Coffey of Berkadia’s Charleston, South Carolina office led both sales.

Berkadia completed the sale of Abbey Court on behalf of the seller, American Residential Investment Management of Raleigh, North Carolina. The buyer was Napali Capital, LLC of Southlake, Texas. The deal closed on July 31.

“Abbey Court has historically been a well performing and well-maintained asset,” said Boyce. “Napali Capital will continue with that trajectory and can implement a light value-add strategy to the interiors as they move forward with the ownership. This transaction is a great example of the demand we’re seeing for quality multi-family assets in secondary markets of major southeastern cities.”

The Legends at Charleston Park sale was completed on behalf of the seller, United Residential Properties, LLC of Macon, Georgia. The buyer was Fogelman Properties of Memphis, Tennessee, and the deal closed on August 1.

“Legends at Charleston Park represented a great opportunity for Fogelman to acquire a well-constructed asset exhibiting strong performance in an increasingly growing area of North Charleston,” said Boyce. “We continue to see strong demand for well-located multifamily assets throughout the Carolinas.”

About Berkadia

Founded in 2009 as a 50/50 joint venture between Berkshire Hathaway and Leucadia National Corporation, Berkadia is a third-party commercial mortgage servicer, as well as an approved lender for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and HUD/FHA.

The company is among the top Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae multifamily lenders.

Berkadia owes its origins to GMAC Commercial Mortgage Corporation, which was acquired in 2009 by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., Five Mile Capital Partners LLC, and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners. Christened Capmark Financial, the company had $10 billion of originations in 2008 and a servicing portfolio of more than $360 billion before running into bankruptcy in October 2009.

In a deal approved by the bankruptcy court, Capmark sold its mortgage loan and servicing to the newly formed Berkadia in a deal worth $515 million.

The deal brought Berkshire into the heart of the commercial loan serving business, and the company has one of the largest commercial real estate servicing portfolios.

© 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 Adds Leading Global Supplier of Memory Solutions

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Berkshire Hathaway’s Mouser Electronics, Inc., the industry’s leading New Product Introduction (NPI) distributor with the widest selection of semiconductors and electronic components, today announces it has signed a global distribution agreement with Micron Technology, a world leader in innovative memory solutions that transform how the world uses information.

With the agreement, Mouser adds a key memory technology manufacturer to its portfolio, serving its customers worldwide with Micron’s industry-leading solutions.

Backed by 40 years of technology leadership, Micron products target a broad array of applications in the computing, networking, data, server, mobile, embedded, consumer, automotive, and industrial markets.

“We are very excited to have the opportunity to distribute Micron’s extensive portfolio of high-quality memory solutions to our customers across the globe,” said Jeff Newell, Senior Vice President of Products at Mouser Electronics. “By adding Micron to the Mouser line card, we are providing the design engineering community with proven solutions from a recognized leader in the industry.”

Mouser is now stocking the full breadth of Micron memory products, including NAND, DRAM and DRAM modules, multi-chip packages, and Hybrid Memory Cubes based on through-silicon via (TSV) technology. The Micron portfolio available from Mouser also includes products that incorporate 3D XPoint technology, a new class of nonvolatile memory with 1,000 times lower latency than NAND.

Mouser strives to empower innovation among design engineers and buyers by delivering advanced technologies. Mouser stocks the world’s widest selection of the latest semiconductors and electronic components for the newest design projects.

Mouser Electronics’ website is continually updated and offers advanced search methods to help customers quickly locate inventory. Mouser.com also houses data sheets, supplier-specific reference designs, application notes, technical design information, and engineering tools.

© 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.

Montana Business Park Receives BNSF Certification

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The Kootenai Business Park in Libby, Montana, is now officially one of roughly 20 industrial sites nationwide to be certified by BNSF Railway’s certification program.

In 2016, the Kootenai Business Park received a $750,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to restore rail service into the business park.

The total cost of the rail project was $1.6 million to rebuild the 14,000-foot rail spur that originally connected the former Stimson Lumber Co. mill site to BNSF Railway’s main line between Chicago and Seattle.

The Lincoln County Port Authority (LCPA) owns and operates 400 acres of commercial/industrial property acquired after Stimson Lumber Company ceased activity on the property in 2002.

The property, referred to as the Kootenai Business Park (KBP), is suitable for commercial and industrial redevelopment, and a major strategy of the KBP has been the continued investment in infrastructure on the site to attract and support business development.

© 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 its Double-Decker Electric Buses to the US

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Move over London, America’s commuters will soon be riding high.

China’s new energy company BYD will be bringing its double-decker electric buses to the United States.

The company has yet to reveal the city that the buses where the buses will be going into service, but its most likely in California, as BYD notes that its 45’ Electric Double-Decker Coach is eligible for California’s California Air Resources Board Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project (HVIP).

Under HVIP, eligible purchasers will receive a $175,000 voucher, and first-time purchasers through the HVIP program will receive an additional $10,000 off.

The official announcement of the location will be made in Q3, according to the company.

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.