Global Market Comments
July 19, 2019
(DON’T MISS THE JULY 24 GLOBAL STRATEGY WEBINAR)
(WHAT’S HAPPENED TO APPLE?), (AAPL)
(MSFT), (IBM), (CSCO), (SWCH)
Global Market Comments
July 19, 2019
(DON’T MISS THE JULY 24 GLOBAL STRATEGY WEBINAR)
(WHAT’S HAPPENED TO APPLE?), (AAPL)
(MSFT), (IBM), (CSCO), (SWCH)
Global Market Comments
April 3, 2019
(WHO WILL BE THE NEXT FANG?)
(FB), (AMZN), (NFLX), (GOOGL), (AAPL),
(BABA), (TSLA), (WMT), (MSFT),
(IBM), (VZ), (T), (CMCSA), (TWX)
FANGS, FANGS, FANGS! Can’t live with them but can’t live without them either.
I know you’re all dying to get into the next FANG on the ground floor, for to do so means capturing a potential 100-fold return, or more.
I know because I’ve done it four times. The split adjusted average cost of my Apple shares is only 25 cents compared to today’s $174, so you can understand my keen interest. My average on Tesla is $16.50.
Uncover a new FANG and the riches will accrue rapidly. Facebook (FB), Amazon AMZN), Netflix (NFLX), and Alphabet (GOOGL) didn’t exist 25 years ago. Apple (AAPL) is relatively long in the tooth at 40 years. And now all four are in a race to become the world’s first trillion-dollar company.
One thing is certain. The path to FANGdom is shortening. It took Apple four decades to get where it is today, Facebook did it in one. As Steve Jobs used to tell me when he was running both Apple and Pixar, “These overnight successes can take a long time.”
There is also no assurance that once a FANG always a FANG. In my lifetime, I have seen far too many Dow Average components once considered unassailable crash and burn, like Eastman Kodak (KODK), General Electric (GE), General Motors (GM), Sears (SHLD), Bethlehem Steel, and IBM (IBM).
I established in an earlier piece that there are eight essential attributes of a FANG, product differentiation, visionary capital, global reach, likeability, vertical integration, artificial intelligence, accelerant, and geography.
We are really in a “What have you done for me lately” world. That goes for me too. All that said, I shall run through a short list for you of the future FANG candidates we know about today.
Alibaba is an amalgamation of the Chinese equivalents of Amazon, PayPal, and Google all sewn together. It accounts for a staggering 63% of all Chinese online commerce and is still growing like crazy. Some 54% of all packages shipped in China originate from Alibaba.
The juggernaut has over half billion active users, and another half billion placing orders through mobile phones. It is a master of AI and B2B commerce. There is nothing else like it in the world.
However, it does have some obvious shortcomings. Its brand is almost unknown in the US. It has a huge problem with fakes sold through their sites.
It also has an ownership structure for foreign investors that is byzantine, to say the least. It is a contractual right to a share of profits funneled through a PO box in the Cayman Island. The SEC is interested, to say the least.
We also don’t know to what extent founder Jack Ma has sold his soul to the Beijing government. It’s probably a lot. That could be a problem if souring trade relations between the US and the Middle Kingdom get worse, a certainty with the current administration.
Before you bet on a new startup breaking into the Detroit Big Three, go watch the movie “Tucker” first. Spoiler Alert: It ends in tears.
Still, Tesla (TSLA) has just passed the 270,000 mark in the number of cars manufacturered. Tucker only got to 50.
Having led my readers into the stock after the IPO at $16.50, I am already pretty happy with this company. Owning three of their cars helps too (two totaled). But Tesla still has a long way to go.
It all boils down to the success of the $35,000, 200-mile range Tesla 3 for which it already has 500,000 orders. So far so good.
It’s all about scale. If it can produce these cars in sufficient numbers, it will take over the world and easily become the next FANG. If it can’t, it won’t. It’s that simple.
To say that a lot is already built into the share price would be an understatement. Tesla now trades at ten times revenues compared to 0.5 for Ford (F) and (General Motors (GM). That’s a relative overvaluation of 20:1.
Any of a dozen competing electric car models could scale up with a discount model before they do, such as the similarly priced GM Bolt. But with a ten-year lead in the technology, I doubt it.
It isn’t just cars that will anoint Tesla with FANG sainthood. The firm already has a major presence in rooftop solar cell installation through Solar City, utility sized solar plants, industrial scale battery plants, and is just entering commercial trucks. Consider these all seeds for FANGdom.
One thing is certain. Without Tesla, there wouldn’t be s single mass-market electric car on the road today.
For that, we can already say thanks.
In the blink of an eye, ride sharing service Uber has become essential for globe-trotting travelers such as myself.
Its 2 million drivers completely disrupted the traditional taxi model for local transportation which remains unchanged since the days of horses and buggies.
That has created the first $75 billion of enterprise value. It’s what’s next that could make the company so interesting.
It is taking the lead in autonomous driving. It could also replace FeDex, UPS, DHL, and the US post office by offering same day deliveries at a fraction of the overnight cost.
It is already doing this now with Uber Foods which offers immediate delivery of takeouts (click here if you want lunch by the time you finish reading this piece.)
UberCopters anyone? Yes, it’s already being offered in France and Brazil.
Uber has the potential to be so much more if it can just outlive its initial growing pains.
It is a classic case of the founder being a terrible manager, as Travis Kalanick has lurched from one controversy to the next. The board finally decided he should spend much time on his new custom built 350-foot boat.
Its “bro” culture is notorious, even in Silicon Valley.
It is also getting enormous pushback from regulators everywhere protecting entrenched local interests. It has lost its license in London, the only place in the world that offered a decent taxi service pre-Uber. Its drivers are getting beaten up in Paris.
However, if it takes advantage of only a few of the doors open to it, status as a FANG beckons.
A few years ago, I was heavily criticized for pointing out that half the employees at my local Walmart (WMT) were missing their front teeth. They have since received a $2 an hour's pay raise, but the teeth are still missing. They don’t earn enough money to get them fixed.
The company is the epitome of bricks and mortar in a digital world with 12,000 stores in 28 countries. It is the largest private employer in the US, with 1.4 million workers, mostly earning minimum wage.
The Walmart customer is the very definition of the term “late adopter.” Many are there only because unlike Amazon, Wal-Mart accepts cash and Food Stamps.
Still, if Walmart can, in any way, crack the online nut, it would be a turbocharger for growth. It moved in this direction with the acquisition of Jet.com for $3 billion, a cutting-edge e-commerce firm based in Hoboken, NJ.
However, this remains a work in progress. Online sales account for only 4% of Walmart’s total. But they could only be a few good hires at the top away from success.
Talk about going from being the 800-pound gorilla to an 80 pound one, and then back to 800 pounds.
I don’t know why Microsoft (MSFT) lost its way for 15 years, but it did. Blame Bill Gates’s retirement from active management and his replacement by his co-founder Steve Ballmer.
Since Ballmer’s departure in 2014, the performance of the share price has been meteoric, rising by some 125% over the past two years.
You can thank the new CEO Satya Nadella who brought new vitality to the job and has done a complete 180, taking Microsoft belatedly into the cloud.
Microsoft was never one to take lightly. Windows still powers 90% of the world’s PCs. No company can function without its Office suite of applications (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint). SQL Server and Visual Studio are everywhere.
That’s all great if you want to be a public utility, which Microsoft shareholders don’t.
LinkedIn, the social media platform for professionals, could be monetized to a far greater degree. However, specialization does come at the cost of scalability.
It seems that the future is for Microsoft to go head to head against next door neighbor Amazon (AMZN) for the cloud services market while simultaneously duking it out with Alphabet (GOOGL).
My bet is that all three win.
This is another new app that has immeasurably changed my life for the better. Instead of cramming myself into a hotel suite with a wildly overpriced minibar for $600 a night, I get a whole house for $300 anywhere in the world, with a new local best friend along with it.
Overnight, Airbnb has become the world’s largest hotel chain without actually owning a single hotel. At its latest funding round in 2017, it was valued at $31 billion.
The really tricky part here is for the firm to balance out supply and demand in every city in the world at the same time. It is also not a model that lends itself to vertical integration. But who knows? Maybe priority deals with established hotels are to come.
This is another firm that is battling local regulation, that great barrier to technological innovation. None other than its home town of San Francisco now has strict licensing requirements for renters, a 30 day annual limitation, and a $1,000 a day fine for offenders.
The downtowns of many tourist meccas like Florence, Italy and Paris, France have been completely taken over by Airbnb customers, driving rents up and locals out.
There was a time in my life when IBM was so omnipresent we thought like the Great Pyramids of Egypt it would be there forever. How times change. Even Oracle of Omaha Warren Buffet became so discouraged that he recently dumped the last of his entire five-decade long position.
A recent 20 consecutive quarters of declining profits certainly hasn’t helped Big Blue’s case. It is one of the only big technology companies whose share price has gone virtually nowhere for the past two years.
IBM’s problem is that it stuck with hardware for too long. An entrenched bureaucracy delayed its entry into services and the cloud, the highest growth areas of technology.
Still, with some $80 billion in annual revenues, IBM is not to be dismissed. Its brand value is still immense. It still maintains a market capitalization of $144 billion.
And it has a new toy, Watson, the supercomputer named after the company’s founder, which has great promise, but until now has remained largely an advertising ploy.
If IBM can reinvent itself and get back into the game, it has FANG potential. But for the time being, investors are unimpressed and sitting on their hands.
The Big Telecom Companies
My final entrant in the FANGstakes would be any combination of the four top telecommunication companies, Verizon (VZ), AT&T (T), Comcast (CMCSA), and Time Warner (TWX), which now control a near monopoly in the US.
There is a reason why the administration is blocking the AT&T/Time Warner merger, and it is not because these companies are consistently cited in polls as the most despised in America. They are trying to stop the creation of another hostile FANG.
Still, if any of the big four can somehow get together, the consequences would be enormous. Ownership of the pipes through which the modern economy courses bestows great power on these firms.
There is one more FANG possibility that I haven’t mentioned. Somewhere, someplace, there is a pimple-faced kid in a dorm room thinking up a brand-new technology or business model that will take the world by storm and create the next FANG.
Call me crazy, but I have been watching this happen for my entire life.
I want to thank my friend, Scott Galloway, of New York University’s Stern School of Business, for some of the concepts in this piece. His book, “The Four” is a must read for the serious tech investor.
Creating the Next FANG?
A potential cataclysmic threat potentially wreaking havoc to our financial system is no other than cybercrime – that is one of the few gems that Fed Chair Jerome Powell delivered to the American public in a historic interview with 60 Minutes this past weekend.
Powell has even gone on record before claiming that Congress should do “as much as possible (against cybercrime), and then double it.”
The Fed Chair clearly has intelligence that retail investors wish they could get their hands on.
Digital nefarious attacks have been all the rage resulting in public blowups at Equifax (EFX) and North Korea’s state-sponsored hack on International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) just to name a few.
At the bare minimum, this means that cybersecurity solution companies will be the recipients of a gloriously expanding addressable market.
Powell’s testimony to the public was timely as it provides the impetus for investors to look at cybersecurity firms that will actively forge ahead and protect domestic business from these lurking threats.
Considering a long-term investment in FireEye Inc. (FEYE) at these beaten down prices could unearth value.
For all the digital novices, FireEye offers cybersecurity solutions allowing organizations to pre-emptively plan, prevent, respond to, and remediate cyber-attacks.
It offers vector-specific appliance, virtual appliance, and a smorgasbord of cloud-based solutions to detect and thwart indistinguishable cyber-attacks.
The company deploys threat detection and preventative methods including network security products, email security solutions, and endpoint security solutions.
And when you marry this up with my 2019 underlying thesis of the year of the enterprise software subscription, this company is on the verge of a breakout.
Last year was a year full of milestones for the company with the firm achieving non-GAAP profitability for the full year for the first time and generating positive operating and free cash flow for the full year.
The company was able to attract new business by adding over 1,100 new customers.
The cloud is where the company is betting all their chips and crafting the optimal subscription-as-a-service (SaaS) product is the engine that will propel the company’s shares higher.
The heart of their cloud initiative relies on Helix - a comprehensive detection and response platform designed to simplify, integrate and automate security operations.
This intelligence-led approach fuses innovative security technologies, nation-grade FireEye Threat Intelligence and world-renowned expertise from FireEye Mandiant into FireEye Helix.
By enhancing the endpoint products and email protection, sales of both products exploded higher by double digits YOY as FireEye successfully displaced incumbent vendors and legacy technology to the delight of shareholders.
As a result, the firm’s pipeline of opportunities continues to build.
As for network security, FireEye plans to extend the reach of their market-leading advanced threat protection capabilities further into the cloud with protection specifically aimed for cloud heavyweights Microsoft (MSFT) Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google (GOOGL) and Oracle (ORCL) Cloud.
They are collaborating with these major cloud providers on hybrid solutions that integrate seamlessly with their technologies so FireEye solutions will easily snap into a customer's cloud deployments.
Cloud subscriptions and managed services were the ultimate breakout performer highlighting the successful outsized pivot to (SaaS) revenue.
This segment increased 31% sequentially and 12% YOY, highlighting underlined strength in the segments of managed defense, standalone threat intelligence, Helix subscriptions, and cloud email solution.
The furious growth was achieved even though Q4 2017 billings included a $10 million plus transaction and if this deal is excluded, cloud subscriptions and managed services would have grown more than 30% YOY in Q4 2017 demonstrating the hard bias to the cloud has been highly instrumental to its success.
Recurring billings expanded 12% YOY, a small bump in acceleration from 11% in Q3, but if you remove that big deal in Q4 '17, recurring billings grew over 20% YOY in Q4 2018.
The growing chorus of product satisfaction can be found in the customer retention rate of 90%.
Transaction volume was at record levels for both deals greater than $1 million and transactions less than $1 million, signaling not only that customer renewals are expanding, but also explosion of new revenue streams captured by FireEye is aiding the top line.
This story is all about the recurring revenue and I expect that narrative to perpetuate throughout 2019 as an overarching theme to the strength of the firm’s revenue drivers.
The 10% billings growth last quarter paints a more honest trajectory of the true growth proposition for FireEye.
I believe the 6%-to-7% revenue guide for fiscal 2019 is down to the accounting technicals manifesting in the appliance revenue that is fading from the overall story.
The solid billings growth underpinning the overall business meshing with diligent expense control is conjuring up a massive amount of operating leverage.
Shares are undervalued and offer an attractive risk versus reward proposition.
If the company delivers on its core growth outlook, which I fully expect them to do plus more, shares should climb over $20 barring any broad-based market meltdowns.
I am bullish FireEye and urge readers to wait for shares to settle before putting new money to work.
Corporate earnings are up big! Great!
The economy is going down the toilet!
Buy! Sell! Buy! Sell!
Anyone would be forgiven for thinking that the stock market has become bipolar.
According to the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, the answer is that corporate profits account for only a small part of the economy.
Using the income method of calculating GDP, corporate profits account for only 15% of the reported GDP figure. The remaining components are doing poorly or are too small to have much of an impact.
Wages and salaries are in a three-decade-long decline. Interest and investment income are falling because of the ultra-low level of interest rates. Farm incomes are at a decade low, thanks to the China trade war, but are a tiny proportion of the total, and agricultural prices have been in a seven-year bear market.
Income from non-farm unincorporated business, mostly small business, is unimpressive.
It gets more complicated than that.
A disproportionate share of corporate profits is being earned overseas.
So, multinationals with a big foreign presence, like Apple (AAPL), Intel (INTC), Oracle (ORCL), Caterpillar (CAT), and IBM (IBM), have the most rapidly growing profits and pay the least amount in taxes.
They really get to have their cake and eat it too. Many of their business activities are contributing to foreign GDPs, like China’s, far more than they are here.
Those with large domestic businesses, like retailers, earn less but pay more in tax as they lack the offshore entities in which to park them.
The message here is to not put all your faith in the headlines but to look at the numbers behind the numbers.
Caveat emptor. Buyer beware.
Global Market Comments
August 23, 2018
(WHY THE DOW IS GOING TO 120,000),
(X), (IBM), (GM), (MSFT), (INTC), (DELL),
($INDU), (NFLX), (AMZN), (AAPL), (GOOGL),
(THE MAD HEDGE CONCIERGE SERVICE HAS AN OPENING),
For years, I have been predicting that a new Golden Age was setting up for America, a repeat of the Roaring Twenties. The response I received was that I was a permabull, a nut job, or a conman simply trying to sell more newsletters.
Now some strategists are finally starting to agree with me. They too are recognizing that a ganging up of three generations of investment preferences will combine to drive markets higher during the 2020s, much higher.
How high are we talking? How about a Dow Average of 120,000 by 2030, up another 465% from here? That is a 20-fold gain from the March 2009 bottom.
It’s all about demographics, which are creating an epic structural shortage of stocks. I’m talking about the 80 million Baby Boomers, 65 million from Generation X, and now 85 million Millennials. Add the three generations together and you end up with a staggering 230 million investors chasing stocks, the most in history, perhaps by a factor of two.
Oh, and by the way, the number of shares out there to buy is actually shrinking, thanks to a record $1 trillion in corporate stock buybacks.
I’m not talking pie in the sky stuff here. Such ballistic moves have happened many times in history. And I am not talking about the 17th century tulip bubble. They have happened in my lifetime. From August 1982 until April 2000 the Dow Average rose, you guessed it, exactly 20 times, from 600 to 12,000, when the Dotcom bubble popped.
What have the Millennials been buying? I know many, like my kids, their friends, and the many new Millennials who have recently been subscribing to the Diary of a Mad Hedge Fund Trader. Yes, it seems you can learn new tricks from an old dog. But they are a different kind of investor.
Like all of us, they buy companies they know, work for, and are comfortable with. During my Dad’s generation that meant loading your portfolio with U.S. Steel (X), IBM (IBM), and General Motors (GM).
For my generation that meant buying Microsoft (MSFT), Intel (INTC), and Dell Computer (DELL).
For Millennials that means focusing on Netflix (NFLX), Amazon (AMZN), Apple (AAPL), and Alphabet (GOOGL).
That’s why these four stocks account for some 40% of this year’s 7% gain. Oh yes, and they bought a few Bitcoin along the way too, to their eternal grief.
There is one catch to this hyper-bullish scenario. Somewhere on the way to the next market apex at Dow 120,000 in 2030 we need to squeeze in a recession. That is increasingly becoming a topic of market discussion.
The consensus now is that an impending inverted yield curve will force a recession sometime between August 2019 to August 2020. Throwing fat on the fire will be a one-time only tax break and deficit spending that burns out sometime in 2019. These will be a major factor in U.S. corporate earnings growth dramatically slowing down from 26% today to 5% next year.
Bear markets in stocks historically precede recessions by an average of seven months so that puts the next peak in top prices taking place between February 2019 to February 2020.
When I get a better read on precise dates and market levels, you’ll be the first to know.
To read my full research piece on the topic please click here to read “Get Ready for the Coming Golden Age.”
Global Market Comments
May 4, 2018
(DON'T MISS THE MAY 9 GLOBAL STRATEGY WEBINAR),
(A DAY IN THE LIFE OF THE MAD HEDGE FUND TRADER),
(SPY), (TLT), (TBT), (FXE),(GLD), (GDX), (USO),
(AMLP), (STBX), (NFLX), (DIS), (AAPL), (GM)
Global Market Comments
May 3, 2018
(MSFT), (IBM), (CSCO), (SWCH),
(DON'T BE SHORT CHINA HERE),
($SSEC), (FXI), (CYB), (CHL), (BIDU),
Sometime in the early 1970?s, a friend of mine said I should take a look at a stock named Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA) run by a young stud named Warren Buffett.
I thought, ?Why the hell should I invest in a company that makes sheets??
After all, the American textile industry was in the middle of a long trek toward extinction that began in the 1920?s, and was only briefly interrupted by the hyper prosperity of WWII. The industry?s travails were simply an outcome of ever rising US standards of living, which pushed wages, and therefore costs, up.
It turns out that Warren Buffett made a lot more than sheets. However, he is not a young stud anymore, just an old one, like me.
Since then, Warren?s annual letter to investors has been an absolute ?must read? for me when it is published every spring.
It has been edited for the past half century by my friend, Carol Loomis, who just retired after a 60-year career with Fortune magazine. (I never wrote for them because their freelance rates were lousy).
Witty, insightful, and downright funny, I view it as a cross between a Harvard Business School seminar and a Berkeley anti establishment demonstration. You will find me lifting from it my ?Quotes of the Day? for the daily newsletter over the next several issues. There are some real zingers.
And what a year it has been!
Berkshire?s gain in net worth was $18.3 billion, which increased the share value by 8.3%, and today, the market capitalization stands at an impressive $343.4 billion. (Sorry Warren, but I clocked 30% last year, eat your heart out).
The shares are not for small timers, as one now costs $214,801, and no, they don?t sell half shares. This compares to a 1965 per share market value of $23.80, and is why the media are always going gaga over Warren Buffett.
If you?re lazy and don?t want to do the math, that works out to a compound annualized return of an eye popping 21.6%. This is why guessing what Warren is going to do next has become a major cottage industry (Progressive Insurance anyone?).
Warren brought in these numbers despite the fact that its largest non-insurance subsidiary, the old Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad (BNSF) suffered an awful year.
Extensive upgrades under construction and terrible winter weather disrupted service, causing the railroad to lose market share to rival Union Pacific (UNP).
I was kind of pissed when Warren bought BNSF in 2009 for a blockbuster $44 billion, as it was long my favorite trading vehicles for the sector. Since then, its book value has doubled. Typical Warren.
Buffett plans to fix the railroad?s current problems with $6 billion in new capital investment this year, one of the largest single capital investments in American history. Warren isn?t doing anything small these days.
Buffett also got a hickey from his investment in UK supermarket chain Tesco, which ran up a $444 million loss for Berkshire in 2014. Warren admits he was too slow in getting out of the shares, a rare move for the Oracle of Omaha, who rarely sells anything (which avoids capital gains taxes).
Warren increased his investment in all of his ?Big Four? holdings, American Express (AXP), Coca-Cola (KO), IBM (IBM), and Wells Fargo (WFC).
In addition, Berkshire owns options on Bank of America (BAC) stock, which have a current exercise value of $12.5 billion (purchased the day after the Mad Hedge Fund Trader issued a Trade Alert on said stock for an instant 300% gain on the options).
The secret to understanding Buffett picks over the years is that cash flow is king.
This means that he has never participated in the many technology booms over the decades, or fads of any other description, for that matter.
He says this is because he will never buy a business he doesn?t intrinsically understand, and they didn?t offer computer programming as an elective in high school during the Great Depression.
No doubt this has lowered his potential returns, but with the benefit of much lower volatility.
That makes his position in (IBM) a bit of a mystery, the worst performing Dow stock of the past two years. I would much rather own Apple (AAPL) myself, which also boasts great cash flow, and even a dividend these days (with a 1.50% yield).
Warren will be the first to admit that even he makes mistakes, sometimes, disastrous ones. He cites his worst one ever as a perfect example, his purchase of Dexter Shoes for $433 million in 1993. This was right before China entered the shoe business as a major competitor.
Not only did the company quickly go under, he exponentially compounded the error through buying the firm with an exchange of Berkshire Hathaway stock, which is now worth a staggering $5.7 billion.
Ouch, and ouch again!
Warren has also been mostly missing in action on the international front, believing that the mother load of investment opportunities runs through the US, and that its best days lie ahead. I believe the same.
Still, he has dipped his toe in foreign waters from time to time, and I was sometimes quick to jump on his coattails. A favorite of mine was his purchase of 10% of Chinese electric car factory BYD (BYDDF) in 2009, where I have captured a few doubles over the years.
Buffett expounds at great length the attractions of the insurance industry, which today remains the core of his business. For payment of a premium up front, the buyers of insurance policies receive a mere promise to perform in the future, sometimes as much as a half century off.
In the meantime, Warren can invest the money any way he wants. The model has been a real printing press for Buffett since he took over his first insurer in 1951, GEICO.
Much of the letter promotes the upcoming shareholders annual meeting, known as the ?Woodstock of Capitalism?.
There, the conglomerate?s many products will be for sale, including, Justin Boots (I have a pair), the gecko from GEICO (which insures my Tesla S-1), and See?s Candies (a Christmas addiction, love the peanut brittle!).
There, visitors can try their hand at Ping-Pong against Ariel Hsing, a 2012 American Olympic Team member, after Bill Gates and Buffett wear her down first.
They can try their hand against a national bridge champion (don?t play for money). And then there is the newspaper-throwing contest (Buffett?s first gainful employment).
Some 40,000 descend on remote Omaha for the firm?s annual event. All flights to the city are booked well in advance, with fares up to triple normal rates.
Hotels sell out too, and many now charge three-day minimums (after Warren, what is there to do in Omaha for two more days other than to visit PayPal?s technical support?). Buffett recommends Airbnb as a low budget option (for the single shareholders?).
I was amazed to learn that Berkshire files a wrist breaking 24,100-page Federal tax return (and I thought mine was bad!). Add to this a mind numbing 3,400 separate state tax returns.
Overall, Berkshire holdings account for more than 3% of the total US gross domestic product, but a far lesser share of the government?s total tax revenues, thanks to careful planning.
Buffett ends his letter by advertising for new acquisitions and listing his criteria. They include:
(1) ?Large purchases (at least $75 million of pre-tax earnings unless the business will fit into one of our existing units),
(2) ?Demonstrated consistent earning power (future projections are of no interest to us, nor are ?turnaround? situations),
(3) ?Businesses earning good returns on equity while employing little or no debt,
t in place (we can?t supply it),
(5) Simple businesses (if there?s lots of technology, we won?t understand it),
(6) An offering price (we don?t want to waste our time or that of the seller by talking, even preliminarily, about a transaction when price is unknown).
Let me know if you have any offers.
To read the entire history of Warren Buffett?s prescient letters, please click here: http://www.berkshirehathaway.com/letters/letters.htm.