The Berkshire Hathaway Portfolio

The Berkshire Hathaway Portfolio

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  • Big Tech and banks are vying for the same consumer
    Yahoo Finance

    Big Tech and banks are vying for the same consumer

    From posting on social media to calling an Uber, mobile devices are becoming the command center for guiding day-to-day activities. Financial institutions want to get in on the action as well according to an industry insider.

  • How Whole Foods and Trader Joe's may be linked to surging housing prices
    Yahoo Finance

    How Whole Foods and Trader Joe's may be linked to surging housing prices

    Organic foods may be costly in more ways than one.

  • Reuters

    UPDATE 1-French, US officials strike draft compromise on French digital tax

    French and U.S. negotiators have reached a compromise agreement on France's digital tax, a levy which prompted U.S. President Donald Trump to threaten a separate tax on French wine imports, a source close to the negotiations said. The compromise struck between French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Donald Trump's White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow envisages that France would repay to companies the difference between a French tax and a planned mechanism being drawn up by the OECD .

  • Amazon Joins Walmart in Saying Tesla Solar Panels Caught Fire

    Amazon Joins Walmart in Saying Tesla Solar Panels Caught Fire

    (Bloomberg) -- Walmart Inc. isn’t the only corporation that has seen its Tesla Inc. solar panels catch fire.On Friday, Amazon.com Inc. said a June 2018 blaze on the roof of one of its warehouses in Redlands, California, involved a solar panel system that Tesla’s SolarCity division had installed. The Seattle-based retail giant said by email that it has since taken steps to protect its facilities and has no plans to install more Tesla systems.News of the Amazon fire comes just three days after Walmart dropped a bombshell lawsuit against Tesla, accusing it of shoddy panel installations that led to fires at more than a half-dozen stores. The claims threaten to further erode Tesla’s solar business at a time when the company is fighting to gain back market share.Walmart and Tesla issued a joint statement late Thursday, saying they were in discussions to resolve their issues. “Both companies want each and every system to operate reliably, efficiently, and safely,” they said.In the complaint filed Tuesday, Walmart said it had leased or licensed roof space at more than 240 stores to Tesla’s energy unit. Two of the Walmart fires occurred in May 2018. Amazon said it has a very small number of solar systems installed by Tesla.More widely known for its electric cars, Tesla bought panel installer SolarCity three years ago in a $2 billion deal that proved highly controversial. SolarCity’s chief executive officer at the time is the cousin of Tesla CEO Elon Musk, and Musk was the chairman of SolarCity’s board.Also this week, Business Insider reported that Tesla launched an effort to replace a faulty part used in some of its solar panel systems last year. It was unclear whether issues with the component known as a “connector” affected Walmart or Amazon installations.Tesla said in response to the Business Insider story that some connectors manufactured by Amphenol Corp. “experienced failures and disconnections at a higher rate than our standards allow.” Over the past year, the company said, less than 1% of sites with these connectors exhibited abnormal behavior.Amphenol did not respond to a request for comment.\--With assistance from Brian Eckhouse.To contact the reporters on this story: Dana Hull in San Francisco at dhull12@bloomberg.net;Matt Day in Seattle at mday63@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Lynn Doan at ldoan6@bloomberg.net, Kara WetzelFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Apple’s $44 Billion Drop Shows Growing Cost of Reliance on China

    Apple’s $44 Billion Drop Shows Growing Cost of Reliance on China

    (Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. Apple Inc.’s reliance on China is looking increasingly like its biggest handicap.The world’s most influential consumer electronics company shed $44 billion of market value Friday after a pair of pronouncements from Beijing and Washington cast a spotlight on its massive Chinese production base, from which almost all of the world’s iPhones are made.U.S. President Donald Trump this weekend “ordered” American companies to immediately start looking for alternatives to manufacturing in China, which is something Apple is thoroughly unprepared for, according to analyst Daniel Ives of Wedbush Securities Inc.“In a best case scenario,” says Ives, Apple “would be able to move away 5%-7% of iPhone production out of China” over the course of 18 months. The company would require three years to move 20% out, he adds, which is still less than the 25% of iPhone production that Apple needs for its domestic U.S. market. American tariffs on goods from China would therefore directly impact Apple’s biggest moneymaker.Ives calls Trump’s latest comments on China “a gut punch to Cupertino” in the title of his report.Apple’s main assembly partner, Foxconn Technology Group, has claimed that it has the capacity to build all of the Cupertino company’s U.S.-bound iPhones outside of China, however all indications are that to deploy it would require a great deal of time and money. Apple’s stock price took two big hits on Friday in the wake of the latest tariffs announcements.The president’s comments were followed hours later by tweets declaring that the U.S. would increase the rate of existing and impending tariffs on Chinese goods. Trump’s moves were in response to an earlier announcement that China was planning to impose tariffs on $75 billion of U.S. imports.People familiar with iPhone production have said that it is nearly impossible to relocate manufacturing of Apple’s iconic device in a wholesale manner due to the difficulty of procuring a skilled labor force elsewhere, a point that Apple CEO Tim Cook has hammered away at in public as well. The challenges of replicating the complex production lines and necessary infrastructure are also major hurdles.There may also be less purely economic reasons for sticking with the world’s No. 2 economy. Apple and its army of contract manufacturers, led by Foxconn, are collectively China’s largest private employer, providing work for millions of people. A reduced Apple presence could have significant implications for the local job market and rub Beijing the wrong way at a time Chinese officials see a slowing economy as a significant risk to stability. The government has shown a penchant for clamping down on foreign firms that displease it.And Apple needs to fend off smartphone market leader Huawei Technologies Co. and win back consumers in China, its largest market after the U.S.What Bloomberg Intelligence SaysApple could see an added 71 bps of gross-margin pressure if President Donald Trump follows through on his threat to boost expected tariffs on U.S. imports from China as the countries’ trade war escalates.\-- Analysts John Butler and Boyoung KimClick here for the researchRead more: China’s Online Army Shows Foreign Brands Who’s in ChargeWhile Apple has asked at least some suppliers for proposals on ex-China production, there’s no sign the Cupertino company is preparing for a large-scale migration.In one case, an assembler proposed a location outside of China, but Apple rejected it and the supplier ended up expanding in China. The recent effort by GoerTek to shift some of its AirPods production to Vietnam was done of its own volition, people familiar with the decision said. But neither of those relates to the iPhone, which remains chiefly made in China, with some assembly of older models happening in India and focused on the domestic market there.Cook’s ability to lobby Washington for tariff relief will be tested over the coming weeks. He has so far been able to obtain a temporary reprieve for iPhones, iPads and Apple laptops, which won’t be subject to U.S. tariffs until Dec. 15. But going forward, unless an unlikely rapid resolution to the trade war is reached, Apple looks like it will have to draw up comprehensive plans for building iPhones outside of China, however costly that may be.(A previous version of the story was corrected to reflect the Wedbush analyst’s proper name.)(Updates with Chinese market context from the 8th paragraph)\--With assistance from Edwin Chan.To contact the reporter on this story: Debby Wu in Taipei at dwu278@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Edwin Chan at echan273@bloomberg.net, Vlad Savov, Peter ElstromFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Meituan Joins Amazon’s Virtuous Circle

    Meituan Joins Amazon’s Virtuous Circle

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Investors celebrating Meituan Dianping’s first quarterly profit have as much reason to cheer how the company got there as the numbers themselves.Surging revenue, market-share gains against rivals such as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and success in controlling expenses all helped the Chinese food delivery and bookings provider post net income of 877.4 million yuan ($124 million) versus the 1.57 billion yuan loss analysts were expecting. Most encouraging, though, may be the signs that the company is creating the kind of virtuous cycle enjoyed by Amazon.com Inc.Meituan’s business model is simple and familiar. Restaurants use the company to sell food. Meituan aggressively chases both consumers and merchants. Customers keep coming back because they know they’ll find a wide range, good prices and quick delivery. The more that food buyers flock to Meituan, the more restaurants realize they need to be on the platform.Then comes the real magic. To get ahead of the competition, restaurants find they need to up their game by advertising or paying for priority listings. Because others are doing it, rivals have to as well. And so the cycle goes. That should sound familiar because it’s precisely what Amazon has been doing for years. My colleague Shira Ovide summed it up last month with a column titled: Amazon Advertising Is Just a Toll in Disguise. In just two years, the proportion of Amazon’s sales from advertising almost doubled to 4.7%. If you strip out the Amazon Web Services cloud and subscription businesses, the percentage contribution would be even higher.At Meituan, online marketing services climbed to 8.6% of revenue from its food delivery business in the most recent period, from 5.4% a year earlier. Food delivery remains the company’s biggest and fastest-growing business, accounting for 57% of revenue, yet its travel and hotel-bookings division is no slouch at 43% growth from a year earlier and with an 89% gross margin.Just as Amazon is enjoying tidy growth and profit at non-core businesses, Meituan appears to be having success in leveraging its relationship with food-delivery consumers to help them book holidays and hotels. While Alibaba-backed ele.me is Meituan’s chief rival in food, the travel division puts it head to head with Ctrip.com International Ltd.A concern for investors has been the cost of gaining such traction and fighting off competitors. The company fought bitterly with ele.me to gain users, merchants and delivery riders. Meituan’s second-quarter numbers indicate this rivalry may have slowed. Sales and marketing expenses dropped as a ratio of revenue, helped greatly by declining proportions for driver costs and user incentives. Such pragmatism has become a feature: The company backed out of the bike-rental business last year and the stock has been rewarded accordingly. Meituan shares have gained more than 70% in Hong Kong this year, and climbed as much as 7.7% to a record on Monday.If the company can remain nimble enough to seize new opportunities and ditch failures, there’s a good chance it’ll ride out China’s economic slowdown and emerge as dominant as Amazon is in the U.S. To contact the author of this story: Tim Culpan at tculpan1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Matthew Brooker at mbrooker1@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Tim Culpan is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering technology. He previously covered technology for Bloomberg News.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Dow Jones Futures Volatile: China Trade War Trumps Stock Market Rally, Fed Rate Cuts
    Investor's Business Daily

    Dow Jones Futures Volatile: China Trade War Trumps Stock Market Rally, Fed Rate Cuts

    Futures fall: The stock market rally and Fed rate cuts are no match for President Trump's escalating China trade war. Watch Apple, Boeing, Tesla, Micron and Nike.

  • Financial Times

    Brazilian businesses fear backlash over Amazon crisis

    Leading Brazilian companies and trade groups have joined the global outcry over surging wildfires in the Amazon as fears grow that the environmental crisis could hit business. Can Trump and Bolsonaro make relations great again?

  • Meituan Surges to Highest Since IPO After Surprise Profit

    Meituan Surges to Highest Since IPO After Surprise Profit

    (Bloomberg) -- Shares in Meituan Dianping surged by the most in five months Monday, hitting the highest price since its initial public offering after the Chinese internet services giant posted its first quarterly profit last week.The stock jumped as much as 7.7% to HK$75.40, the biggest intraday increase since Mar. 15, pushing it among the top three gainers on the MSCI China Index. Meituan went public at HK$69 a share in September 2018 and has spent most of the intervening months below that level.Meituan recorded a net income of 877.4 million yuan ($124 million) compared with the 1.57 billion yuan loss analysts projected on average, after it grabbed market share from rivals like Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. in food delivery. The company however got help from one-time investment gains, such as in wealth management products. Revenue rose 51% to 22.7 billion yuan, compared with the 21.9 billion yuan mean estimate.Hard-charging billionaire founder Wang Xing is waging a take-no-prisoners battle of subsidies with Alibaba for China’s $1.3 trillion online services industry, which includes food delivery. Meituan’s expenses have soared, though it’s trying to control costs by putting the brakes on investment in loss-making areas such as bike sharing and ride hailing.Meituan Earns Its Way Into Amazon’s Virtuous Circle: Tim CulpanAdvances made against Alibaba however have helped the company become China’s third largest publicly traded tech company. It’s overtaken search engine Baidu Inc. and e-commerce platform JD.com Inc. in capitalization after gaining 59% this year. Backed by WeChat-operator Tencent Holdings Ltd., Meituan could have gained another 2 percentage points of food-delivery market share versus its rivals, reaching 36% in the second quarter, according to Bernstein.“Food delivery business achieved positive adjusted operating profit due to favorable seasonality and improved economies of scale,” Jefferies analysts Thomas Chong and Ken Chong wrote.For now, Meituan is focusing on its bread-and-butter business of dining, expanding up the value chain to help restaurants manage their back-end systems. Longer-term, Wang envisions a super-app modeled on WeChat, extending a raft of everyday services to an increasingly wealthy populace.Read more: The Greatest Delivery Empire on Earth Has Alibaba’s AttentionHere are a few highlights from its quarterly results:Food delivery revenue rose 44%In-store, hotel booking and travel business revenue rose 43%Gross transaction volumes climbed 29% to 159.2 billion yuanAnnual active merchants grew 16% to 5.9 million in the year ended June 30Company will continue to prioritize revenue over profit, and accelerate investment in marketing channels, allocate more resources to membership programs to increase active users.(Updates with share moves.)To contact the reporter on this story: Lulu Yilun Chen in Hong Kong at ychen447@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Edwin Chan at echan273@bloomberg.net, Colum Murphy, Peter ElstromFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Financial Times

    How Amazon abused its precious store of staff loyalty

    Amazon has been coy about the details, stating the ambassadors — who first became visible a year ago — are real warehouse staff and part of a wider education programme that also includes tours of fulfilment centres. Twitter users dealt with this creepy public relations campaign in the way they know best, trolling Amazon’s dime-a-dozen diplomats and imitating the accounts so it became impossible to distinguish reality from parody. Whatever you think of Amazon’s methods, the logic of the programme is impeccable.

  • 4 Reasons Target Soared to an All-Time High
    Motley Fool

    4 Reasons Target Soared to an All-Time High

    The big-box retailer is firing on all cylinders and bulldozing the bears.

  • Better Buy: Costco vs. Walmart
    Motley Fool

    Better Buy: Costco vs. Walmart

    Which big-box discounter is the better bet in the age of e-commerce?

  • 3 Things Target's CEO Wants Investors to Know
    Motley Fool

    3 Things Target's CEO Wants Investors to Know

    The retailer continues to perform well by following a somewhat unique path.

  • Bloomberg

    Corporate America Sounds Alarm on Trump’s Threats Over China

    (Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. U.S. companies are concerned about President Donald Trump’s threats to ban them from doing business in China, and they’re poised to halt new investments if the trade war escalates, the leader of group of top chief executive officers said.U.S. company executives get worried when they hear talk from Trump about invoking emergency powers on trade, said Josh Bolten, president and chief executive officer of the Business Roundtable and a former chief of staff to President George W. Bush.“He has a lot of authority through the national security statutes to disrupt trade and commerce in a way that would cause huge damage -- not just to the Chinese economy, but to the global economy and the U.S. economy,” Bolten said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”Trump responded to the latest tit-for-tat retaliation from China on Friday by tweeting U.S. companies are “hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative” to China. He also suggested he was looking at the International Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977 in ordering U.S. companies to quit China. “Case closed!” Trump concluded in a tweet.‘Take a Look’White House economic director Larry Kudlow downplayed Trump’s China threat, saying on CBS that the president doesn’t intend to try to block investment in China right now and that “maybe the way it was phrased was a little tougher than usual.”“He’s asking American companies to take a look, take a fresh look at frankly moving out of China,” Kudlow said.Still, Bolten said the Dow Jones Industrial Average’s 623-point tumble on Friday in response to Trump’s threat -- while also increasing the tariff rate on $550 billion in Chinese goods -- was a sign of investors “tapping the brake lightly.” A lot of U.S. businesses are “poised right on top of the brake” on new spending if the trade war isn’t resolved, he said.“The risk is that everybody’s going to slam on the brake, and that would be a disaster — not just for the Chinese, but for the United States as well,” Bolten said.The Business Roundtable is an association of chief executive officers of large U.S. companies including Amazon.com Inc., Apple Inc. and General Motors Co. It’s chairman is JPMorgan Chase & Co. CEO Jamie Dimon.Bolten said the group supports Trump’s aim to address allegations of intellectual property theft and other trade issues with China, but it fears the trade war spiraling out of control -- and trying to de-couple completely from China “is not benign and certainly not helpful.”To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Niquette in Columbus at mniquette@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Sara Forden at sforden@bloomberg.net, Steve GeimannFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • GuruFocus.com

    Trump's Latest Trade War Tirade Should Worry Investors, Pt. 1

    Hiking tariffs and ordering American companies to abandon China will drive volatility Continue reading...

  • GuruFocus.com

    Michael Burry of 'Big Short' Fame Goes Long GameStop

    The struggling video game retailer may be poised to jump as next-generation consoles hit the market Continue reading...

  • GuruFocus.com

    Beware Companies That Do Not Believe in Maximizing Shareholder Value

    The Business Roundtable says companies must serve all stakeholders; value investors should be skeptical Continue reading...

  • Kohl's Taps Facebook for New Clothing Line
    Motley Fool

    Kohl's Taps Facebook for New Clothing Line

    The retailer is counting on the social media site to have the right fashion sense for millennials.

  • The Secret Behind Amazon and Mercadolibre's Success
    Motley Fool

    The Secret Behind Amazon and Mercadolibre's Success

    How you can find the next home run stocks like these.

  • How I Beat the Market -- Tripled It, in Fact -- Over the Past Decade
    Motley Fool

    How I Beat the Market -- Tripled It, in Fact -- Over the Past Decade

    Three simple criteria have helped me pick successful investments.

  • 3 Major Casualties of China’s New Tariffs

    3 Major Casualties of China’s New Tariffs

    The US-China trade tensions have taken a turn for the worse in recent days. On Friday, China announced new tariffs on $75 billion worth of imported American goods, and a resumption of the 5% tariff on automotive parts. The new tariffs, to set between 5% and 10% and come into effect in steps on September 1 and December 15, include levies on electronics and machinery. President Trump responded in his customary fashion, by Tweet, saying in part, “Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing your companies HOME and making your products in the USA.” He added that the trade situation represents an opportunity for the US.Investors don’t seem to agree. Markets reacted to China’s and Trump’s announcements by plunging. Both the S&P 500 and Dow Jones averages fell 2.4% in Friday’s trading, and the tech-heavy NASDAQ slipped 3%. The losses were widespread, and not confined to any one sector of the market. Major companies with large exposure to the China trade were especially hard-hit. Here we take a look at three of those casualties. Apple, Inc. (AAPL)The world’s second largest publicly traded company lost 4.62% in the Friday market rout, falling over $9.80 per share. That Apple would prove particularly sensitive to shifts in the ‘trade war’ is no surprise; the Chinese market is Apple’s second largest, accounting for more than 18% of the company’s total revenues. The tit-for-tat tariff actions taken by the US and China have threatened the trade in electronics – and Apple’s supply chain. In response, the company is considering a drastic measure: the shift of 15% to 30% of its production from China to other areas of Southeast Asia. That Apple would consider such a drastic move underlines the risks of the trade war for the high-tech sector.Pointing out that nearly all of Apple’s flagship product line, the iPhone, is assembled in China, 4-star analyst Daniel Ives, from Wedbush, described Friday’s trade-war ramp-up as “a gut punch to Cupertino.” Even with that, however, Ives still sees Apple as a stock worth buying, and his $245 price target on AAPL shares suggest an upside of 20%.Despite the beating it took on Friday, AAPL retains its Moderate Buy rating from the analyst consensus. The stock has received 16 buys, 10 holds, and 1 sell in the past three months, with 6 of those buy ratings coming in just the last three weeks. Apple stock is trading for $202, and the average price target o $226 gives it an 11% upside potential. Caterpillar, Inc. (CAT)Caterpillar was hurting before this latest iteration of the trade conflict. The company is a major manufacturer and supplier of heavy construction and excavation equipment, with customers around the world. The general slowdown in the global economy has been eating into Cat’s sales, including in China, and the escalation in the tariff fight has made a difficult situation worse.The deterioration of Caterpillar’s position is made clear by the company’s losses in Friday’s trading: CAT stock fell 3.25%. The Friday losses come after CAT slipped more than 12% in August, following a 10.25% EPS reported for the second quarter.Cat hasn’t got an easy way out of its difficulties, either. According to 4-star analyst Jerry Revich, of Goldman Sachs, the construction industry is seeing rising inventories of trucks and construction machines; he predicts that there will have to be production cuts on the manufacturing end next year. In line with that, he gives CAT a Hold rating and a $130 price target.Stephens analyst Ashish Gupta agrees, saying, “For Caterpillar, excess dealer inventory means lower reported sales in coming quarters.” He goes on to add that, “The U.S. China trade war and Chinese impact on global commodity markets are reasons to avoid the stock right now. China accounts for a huge portion of global metals and energy consumption. A slowing Chinese economy has large ripple effects for the entire resource industry—a key consumer of Caterpillar products.” Ashish rates CAT as a Sell, with a low $100 price target.CAT is the lowest rated of the stocks in this list, with a Hold from the analyst consensus. The consensus rating is based on 7 buys, 5 holds, and 4 sells set in the past three months. The stocks’ share price of $114 and average price target of $136 still give it an upside potential of 19%. Deere & Company (DE)Like Caterpillar, Deere is a major manufacturer of heavy machinery; in this case, farm and agricultural equipment. And also like Caterpillar, Deere has been suffering as worldwide economic conditions have slowed down. And in a final similarity, Deere reported disappointing EPS in its most recent quarter, missing the forecast by 3.32%.China’s largest import from the US is agricultural products, especially soybeans. As the Chinese government cracks down on trade, with retaliatory measures, US farmers are watching their prospects for a profitable year go up in smoke. And that leads them to cut back on sales and maintenance of their heavy equipment, dealing a double punch to Deere in its domestic market. At the same time, the company is facing direct headwinds from the new Chinese tariffs. Deere stock lost 5.37% in Friday's market retreat. Rising factory production costs and bad weather, which would have been news stories in a normal year, have simply dealt additional blows to an already vulnerable company.At the same time, even with this perfect storm working against it, DE shares are getting upbeat reviews from Wall Street’s analysts. Writing from Credit Suisse, 4-star analyst Jamie Cook says of the quarterly report, “…expectations were sufficiently low heading into the print reflecting macro/trade war uncertainty, commodity prices and unfavorable weather which delayed planting,” and reiterates his belief that the company will beat the headwinds in the long run. He raises his price target on Deere to $197 (up 12%), suggesting an upside of 34%.From BMO Capital, Joel Tiss acknowledges slowing North American sales and a flat early-order program, but points out, “…the overall sales value was higher because of better take rates of innovative technologies and bigger machines.” Like Cook, Tiss gives Deere a Buy rating. His $175 implies a 19% upside potential.Deere is another stock with a Moderate Buy from the analyst consensus, this one based on 9 buys and 4 holds. The stock is selling for $147, has a $167 average price target, and an upside potential of 14%.Visit TipRanks’ Analysts’ Top Stocks tool, and find out which stocks are trending now Wall Street’s top market watchers.Disclosure: This author is long on AAPL.

  • Financial Times

    FirstFT: Today’s top stories 

    FT subscribers can  click here  to receive FirstFT every day by email. The White House has insisted Donald Trump remains committed to the trade war with Beijing after the US president admitted that raising ...