Monthly Archives: May 2021

Lessons From Warren Buffett: The Difference Between an Investor and a Speculator

There is a big difference between investing and speculating (gambling), but if you ask a lot of people what that difference is they won’t be able to tell you in a clear, succinct way. Thankfully, Warren Buffett did just that.

“If you’re an investor, you’re looking at what the asset is going to do,” Warren Buffett said at the 1997 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting. “If you’re a speculator, you’re primarily focusing on what the price of the object is going to do independent of the business. . .”

For Buffett, the bottom line is simple: “Investment is putting out money to get more money back later on from the asset. And not by selling it to somebody else, but by what the asset, itself, will produce.”

Warren Buffett on the Investor and the Speculator

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-Backed Paytm Eying India’s Largest IPO

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Berkshire Hathaway-backed mobile payment company Paytm is aiming for a $3 Billion (218 billion rupees) IPO in 2021. Paytm is India’s largest mobile payments and commerce platform.

Bloomberg reports that the valuation will be between $25 billion and $30 billion.

Founded in 2009, Paytm is an Indian e-commerce payment system and financial technology company, based in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India. In 2018, Berkshire Hathaway made a $356 million investment for a 3-4% stake in One97 Communications Ltd, the parent of Paytm.

The investment was made by Berkshire portfolio manager Todd Combs, who said at the time, “I have been impressed by Paytm and am excited about being a part of its growth story, as it looks to transform payments and financial services in India.”

“Berkshire’s experience in financial services, and long-term investment horizon is going to be a huge advantage in Paytm’s journey of bringing 500 million Indians to the mainstream economy through financial inclusion,” Paytm’s founder and CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma said in 2018.

© 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.

Lubrizol Awarded $1 Million DOE Grant to Advance Fuel Cell Durability

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The U.S. Department of Energy’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office (HFTO) within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) recently awarded The Lubrizol Corporation $1 million to develop enhanced membranes for heavy-duty fuel cell applications.

The award will be used by the Lubrizol Corporate Ventures team as they advance work focused on improving the durability of Proton-Exchange Membrane (PEM) Fuel Cells through enhanced membrane oxidation performance.

The real-world application of the grant will not only contribute to reduced emissions but add more than 25% to the fuel cell lifespan and hours of usable runtime. This development will also enable the advanced adoption of this technology and promises a lower cost of lifetime ownership for several different applications where PEM fuel cells will be used, including commercial vehicles, material handling equipment, final mile delivery fleets and backup power generation.

This work leverages Lubrizol’s chemical and synthesis expertise and process development capabilities to address the issue of oxidative degradation prevalent in PEM fuel cell membranes.

Advances resulting from this project will enable greater marketplace commercialization of fuel cells for highway applications and beyond. “As a company, Lubrizol is focused on the opportunity to leverage our existing technologies and introduce new capabilities that will address challenges in emerging markets and adjacent fields,” said Deb Langer, Senior Vice President, Lubrizol Corporate Ventures. “This grant will leverage foundational Lubrizol technologies and market knowledge in unique and valuable ways. More durable fuel cell technology will be a substantial step forward in how the world Moves Cleaner.”

This project will rely on Lubrizol’s track record of leveraging existing technology in new ways and ability to commercialize new solutions at scale.

As part of the grant proposal, the Lubrizol Corporate Ventures team focused on new energy solutions will collaborate with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to conduct validation testing of the enhanced membrane technologies. This award is part of the approximately $64 million in DOE funding for projects that will support EERE’s H2@Scale vision for clean and affordable hydrogen production, storage, distribution and use across the economy.

Over the course of the next year, the Lubrizol team will continue its work to study, enhance and test new membrane technology. Matt Joyce, Vice President, Commercial, Corporate Ventures added, “Industry engagement and understanding the biggest challenges facing stakeholders today have driven this work. Our team has considered solutions to the complex needs in the market and have applied our technology and application science to solve these issues. We look forward to progressing this work with NREL to deliver a meaningful solution to an emerging market and continuing to engage industry stakeholders who can benefit from this technology advancement.”

The Lubrizol work will support the next round of H2@Scale research, development and demonstration activities. This is one of several areas the Lubrizol Corporate Ventures team is advancing relative to fuel cell technologies and new energy solutions. The Ventures team includes Lubrizol innovators working in partnership with inventors, start-ups, strategic minds and organizations to build new business opportunities that leverage the company strengths and enable sizable growth in new areas.

The Lubrizol Corporate Ventures team works to address unmet needs across these markets, including new energy solutions, with a market-driven approach utilizing our extensive resources and expertise to develop, test, commercialize, and scale new business opportunities and deliver sustainable growth.

© 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.

Commentary: The NetJets Dream of a Fleet of Supersonic Jets Gets Grounded

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Berkshire Hathaway’s NetJets has had its planned fleet of supersonic business jets abruptly grounded as the jet supplier Aerion has gone out of business.

Competition in the fractional jet ownership business in the fledgling supersonic airspace had been heating up as NetJets and its main competitor FlexJets prepared to spend billions on the return of supersonic flight for the business jet market.

Supersonic flight would give these companies a substantial competitive advantage over commercial airlines in their competition for first class customers, especially for long distance overseas flights.

In 2015, FlexJet became the first fractional jet ownership company to place a firm order for the jets when they ordered twenty of Aerion’s AS2 aircraft, and NetJets followed suit with twenty orders of its own.

The proposed Aerion AS2 was to be a three-engine jet with a minimum projected range between 4,750 nautical miles and more than 5,000 nautical miles. Technological breakthroughs were supposed to reduce or eliminate the sonic booms that had limited the Concorde to routes that were over water.

Aerion claimed that at speeds around Mach 1.2 a “sonic boom would, essentially, dissipate before reaching the ground.”

The potential of the Supersonic Market

Supersonic business jets would fall into an interesting category of jets that if built will have a decided advantage over other private jets, but will be too expensive for most people to own outright. While the supersonic business jet market offers opportunity, it also comes at a high cost, with the price of each jet at over $100 million. That’s the perfect opening for fractional ownership companies to plot their growth.

Only the fractional ownership companies with the deepest pockets, such as NetJets, would able to compete in this market, giving them a clear advantage over smaller charter companies, and a major capability advantage over commercial airlines.

It will be interesting to see if NetJets or FlexJets put down purchase options with any of the other companies looking to get into the supersonic airspace, but for now, the dream of cutting flight times in more than half are grounded.

© 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.

Lessons From Warren Buffett: It’s Not the Bathtub That’s the Key Factor

In 2011, in the heart of the Great Recession, Warren Buffett had the bold idea to make a $5 billion investment in Bank of America at a time when investing in banks looked extraordinarily risky. Buffett admits it was a moment of inspiration that came to him while he was sitting in his bathtub. Over the years, his Bank of America investment paid off handsomely, bringing him over $22 billion. However, Buffett is quick to note that it’s not the bathtub that is the key factor. It was the decades of knowledge he accumulated on the banking industry that enabled a moment of inspiration.

“It was mentioned how I got the idea about buying the Bank of America, or making an offer to Bank of America on a preferred stock, when I was in the bathtub, which is true. But the bathtub really was not the key factor,” Warren Buffett said at the 2013 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting. “The truth is I read a book more than 50 years ago called Biography of a Bank. It was a great book, about A.P. Giannini and the history of the bank. And I have followed the Bank of America, and I’ve followed other banks, you know, for 50 years.”

Buffett’s full explanation on learning about an industry

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-Backed BYD Passes 1 Million Mark for EVs

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Berkshire Hathaway-backed BYD (Build Your Dreams) is celebrating a significant production milestone by becoming one of the first new energy vehicle manufacturers globally to produce one million electric passenger cars. The one-millionth car, the Han EV, rolled off the production line today at BYD’s headquarters and manufacturing facility in Shenzhen, China.

At the same time, its Blade Battery completed an extreme strength test that saw it being rolled over by a 46-ton heavy truck, once again resetting the bar for power battery safety.

BYD’s pioneering work in the development of battery technology and new energy vehicle (NEV) manufacturing has led the new energy revolution in the global automotive industry since the company’s emergence in 2003 – spearheaded by innovative technologies and a well-calibrated global business strategy. In 2004, BYD unveiled its all-electric concept car, the ET, at the Beijing Auto Show, marking the premiere debut of an NEV model. This was followed in 2008 when the world’s first mass-produced plug-in hybrid NEV – the F3DM – was officially unveiled.

In 2020, the BYD Han was launched with performance specs setting twelve records globally and nine in China. The BYD Han continues to be a top-selling model in the mid-to-large luxury sedan sector, and with the credentials to rival models from the three German luxury car giants.

BYD and Berkshire Hathaway

In 2008, Berkshire Hathaway bet on BYD’s potential, purchasing 225 million shares for $232 million. It’s an investment that has paid off handsomely. Berkshire’s original investment of $232 million had grown in value to $5.897 billion as of December 31, 2020.

© 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.

BNSF’s Fuel Savings Could Reach 30 Percent With New FLXdrive Locomotives

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BNSF Railway and other railroads could save as much as 30 percent on fuel costs and greenhouse gas emissions for an entire train when a new generation of lithium-ion battery-powered locomotives go into commercial service.

Wabtec Corporation’s pilot of its first generation FLXdrive battery-electric locomotive delivered more than an 11 percent average reduction in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions for an entire train. It is the equivalent of over 6,200 gallons of diesel fuel saved and approximately 69 tons of CO2 emissions reduced.

The outcomes are the result of a three-month pilot with BNSF Railway, the largest railroad in the U.S., where the FLXdrive, the world’s first 100-percent battery locomotive, was put to the test in revenue service across more than 13,320 miles of hilly terrain in San Joaquin Valley, California – a territory surrounded by mountains. The region is classified as a non-attainment area, where the air quality is worse than the National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

Wabtec’s next step is to build a second-generation locomotive with a battery capacity of more than 6 megawatt hours – a level of energy that can reduce a locomotive consist’s fuel consumption and carbon emissions by up to 30 percent, even while hauling several thousand tons of freight in a mile-long train.

“The FLXdrive battery-electric locomotive is a defining moment for freight rail and will accelerate the industry toward low- to zero-emission locomotives,” said Eric Gebhardt, Wabtec Chief Technology Officer. “It builds upon the rail industry’s position as the most efficient and sustainable mode of transportation. Building on our long history of pioneering train energy management technologies, this demonstration of coupling 2.4 megawatt hours of battery storage into the mix fully validated our assumptions for the potential for this next generation technology to further drive efficiencies and greenhouse gas reductions. At more than 6 megawatt hours, Wabtec’s next version of FLXdrive technology will have an opportunity to reduce fuel consumption and emissions by up to 30 percent – putting the industry on the cusp of a once-in-a-generation improvement in energy savings and emission reductions.”

The California pilot program was part of a $22.6 million grant from the California Air Resource Board awarded to Wabtec, BNSF and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. The 430,000-pound FLXdrive in the pilot boasts 18,000 lithium-ion battery cells. The battery locomotive charged at the rail yard and recharged during the trip through regenerative braking. The FLXdrive manages the overall train energy flow and distribution through its Trip Optimizer system, an intelligent cruise control system programmed through artificial intelligence to respond to every twist and grade of the track in the most energy-efficient way possible.

A fleet of second-generation FLXdrives could enter supply chain routes in the next few years.

© 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

Lubrizol Appoints Its First Chief Diversity Officer

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As part of its ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion as a key enabler of business success, Berkshire Hathaway’s Lubrizol has appointed Cheree Aspelin as the company’s first Chief Diversity Officer. In this role, Aspelin will continue to advance the company’s organizational capability by further embedding diversity and inclusion (D&I) across Lubrizol’s workforce, culture, systems and processes.

Aspelin also will hold HR leadership responsibilities for culture, talent management, talent development and organization design and effectiveness.

Aspelin has been a tireless advocate for culture, diversity and inclusion throughout her career, most recently serving as senior director for Lubrizol’s culture and inclusion efforts. Her successful 25-year career has focused on culture, talent development, training, and change management roles, including leadership roles with BP and JP Morgan Chase.

The addition of Chief Diversity Officer is a significant step in Lubrizol’s on-going D&I journey. For years, the company has embraced policies and programs that recognize and nurture a diverse and inclusive workforce, including training related to bias and inclusion and a strong network of Employee Resource Groups. Forbes named the company as one of America’s Best Employers for Diversity in both 2019 and 2020.

The company believes additional improvements will lead to even greater innovation and success. The company’s D&I approach rests on three pillars:

• Owned by the Organization – All Lubrizol employees have a shared accountability to drive toward a more inclusive work environment. The company’s global D&I Council, Inclusion Advocates and Employee Resource Groups provide examples of shared ownership to raise awareness and offer opportunities for greater connection.

• Measured to Track Success – Many years of experience have taught us that we must have meaningful measurements to track success if we are to realize sustainable organizational improvement. The company adopted gender-based goals in 2019, committing to increase the percentage of women in senior leadership roles. In 2020, the company expanded its diversity and inclusion goals to address two additional areas of impact: increasing the representation of Black employees and Black senior-level leaders within the U.S. and expanding the geographic diversity of senior-level leaders across the company.

• Embedded into Systems and Processes – To be successful in these goals, diversity and inclusion are being further embedded into company systems and processes. The company has been updating and improving HR processes, including new ways of working related to internal job posting, candidate assessments and increased workplace flexibility options with the intention of attracting, retaining and promoting the best talent to help us achieve our business goals.

The company also has re-engineered its university scholarship and recruiting programs to ensure it is reaching more students traditionally underrepresented in the industry and is enabling hiring and promotion practices that help reduce bias and evaluate candidates in a consistent, objective and transparent manner.

“We are committed to building on the strength of our culture to ensure a truly inclusive environment where talented people can be their absolute best,” said Eric Schnur, Lubrizol Chairman, President and CEO. “An environment where different experiences, perspectives and ideas are not only welcomed, but celebrated. We are building a more capable company as a result, and Cheree’s appointment to Chief Diversity Officer furthers our commitment and will meaningfully advance our progress.”

© 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 eBuses Tackle the Arctic Cold of Northern Sweden

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Berkshire Hathaway-backed BYD (Build Your Dreams) is confident its eBuses can meet the challenges of even some of the coldest environments.

Nobina, the principal Public Transport Operator (PTO) for Sweden and the Nordic region, has taken delivery of the first of 13 BYD eBuses for operation in Piteå in the north-east of Sweden, marking the start of services in northern Scandinavia’s challenging, often sub-zero degree climate.

The new fleet will see BYD eBuses in operation close to the arctic circle at latitude 65.31º north – BYD’s most northerly customer delivery in Europe. The BYD fleet will be the first electric buses for Piteå, providing safe, quiet and emissions-free public transport for the city’s residents.

Nobina’s new eBuses are manufactured at BYD’s state-of-the-art production facility in Komárom, Hungary – one of two BYD manufacturing plants in Europe.

The first new 40-foot eBus is handed-over to Nobina yesterday, and will be joined by the remaining 12 vehicles, which will be ready for full operations to commence over the summer. Following this latest delivery, Nobina will have ordered in excess of 300 eBuses from BYD with more than 160 vehicles currently on services throughout the Nordic region.

With extremely cold environments providing the ultimate test for Electric Vehicle deployment, Nobina can be assured of vehicle reliability from its latest BYD fleet. BYD’s extensive testing in the region, supported by existing customer feedback from its customers elsewhere in Scandinavia, demonstrate that BYD’s world-class expertise in battery and electric-motor technology delivers proven reliability. In exceptionally hot climates too, PTOs are looking to BYD as the first-choice supplier of electric buses, with BYD eBuses now in operation on the Iberian Peninsula and throughout southern Europe.

To date, there are well in excess of 1,800 BYD eBuses in operation or on order with PTOs right across Europe. Globally, BYD has delivered more than 65,000 pure-electric buses and coaches, with the BYD brand now established in over 300 cities in more than 50 countries and regions.

“We feel pride in introducing fully electric, and emission free buses to Piteå, providing a modern, safe, quiet and reliable public transport. And even if the nordic region can be challeging – we are confident in the BYD technology that is proven end extensively tested, said Jens Råsten”, Fleet Manager at the Nobina Group.

“While the challenging climate in the region will provide a test for any electric vehicle,” said Isbrand Ho, Managing Director, BYD Europe, “I am confident that our pioneering battery and electric motor technologies will deliver outstanding performance and reliability. We have carried out extensive cold-weather testing with proven results,” he said, “and already, BYD customers right across Scandinavia have shown that eMobility is the most viable zero-emissions solution for public transport services.”

BYD and Berkshire Hathaway

In 2008, Berkshire Hathaway bet on BYD’s potential, purchasing 225 million shares for $232 million. It’s an investment that has paid off handsomely. Berkshire’s original investment of $232 million had grown in value to $5.897 billion as of December 31, 2020.

© 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: When It Comes to Earnings, It’s the Future That Counts

People spend a lot of time looking at P/E ratios (Share Price divided by Earnings) when deciding whether to buy a stock. However, Warren Buffett notes that “It isn’t a multiple of today’s earnings that is primarily determinate of things.”

“It’s the future that counts,” Warren Buffett said at the 1995 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting, using an all-time hockey great’s words to illustrate his point. “Wayne Gretzky says to go where the puck is going to be, not where it is. . . . We want to be in the business that 10 years from now is earning a whole lot more money than it is now, and that we will still feel good about the prospects of the business at that time. That’s the kind of business we’re trying to buy all of, and that’s the kind of business that we try and buy part of.”

Buffett’s full explanation on future earnings

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.