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Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Message Board

  • writerpioneer writerpioneer Feb 5, 2013 8:09 PM Flag

    Berkshire and rising interest rates

    Will rising interest rates affect Berkshire more or less than ie a large cap index fund (SCHV)? Any ideas on how to position a portfolio for such a rise?

    Sentiment: Buy

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    • I believe that the relative changes in price that you are trying to estimate would be covered under the following subject: Modified Duration of Equity. Wikipedia has a brief definition under Stock Duration with an external link to an article by John Hussman.

      • 1 Reply to jad1148
      • Rather than attempt to answer your questions (I can't), my goal was to hopefully share with you the concept, duration, that I believe is useful in forming an opinion.

        For what it's worth, here's how I think about the S&P 500. The current dividend yield is about 2% ( a price per share of about 1500 divided by 31.25 worth of trailing four quarter dividends per share as of yearend). After playing around with Shiller's inflation corrected data I have come to believe that real growth (net of inflation) for both dividends and earnings per share is likely to be about 1.5% per year. So it looks to me like the S&P 500 is currently priced to generate a total annual REAL return of about 3.5%. (By the way, if you kick in about 2.5% worth of inflation, that would be equivalent to a NOMINAL annual total return of about 6%.) Compared to the current real yields to maturity on Ben's inflation indexed treasury bonds, that's wonderful. But by any other measure, it's really pretty pathetic. Historically, the real total return for stocks has been about 6.5%, and professionals that I respect have indicated that they could tolerate something between 4.5% and 5.5% today. Now, if interest rates rise by 1% because investors demand a higher REAL total return, then the dividend yield would have to rise from 2% to 3% to bridge the gap. In my opinion, that's what the dividend yield does, it bridges the gap between the return you demand. 4.5%, and the return that growth alone can provide, 1.5%. To push the dividend yield up to 3% the price of the S&P 500 would have to fall about 30%. JMO.

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