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Author: dsciola Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 210432  
Subject: Re: Questions About BRK Date: 10/8/2012 12:56 PM
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Wow, be careful what you wish for :) lots of thinking going into 1 post, still wrapping my head around all of it, but nonetheless very much appreciate all the thoughts n opinions.

I can see how TBV is a fairly inaccurate metric for BRK, given that the Goodwill on BRK's books has more value than just goodwill. BRK does not seem to be very balance sheet driven in the first place per se, since a lot of the firm is comprised of insurance subsidiaries, investments, and other not necessarily hard physical assets. Can also see how BRK's return on its acquisitions have more than made up for the goodwill over the original purchase price.

One interesting point I did find was Jim's point that book value is overall not really that great a valuation metric. I would generally agree, since real value is what really counts, but it seems the notion of book value gets tossed around a lot with BRK how to value the firm. WB even says its his best metric for measuring BRK's operating peformance, book value per share, and I believe also for generally valuing the firm, hence his mandate to iniiate a buy-back if and when the stock trades at 1.1x book value. My assumption is he strongly feels that BRK should never be worth much less than 1.1x, otherwise he wouldnt do that, IMO, but of course what do I know. Could BRK perhaps be valued using cash flow or would that not be a relevant metric either?

I also find it interesting that everyone seems to agree that BRK is mostly now an insurance firm. I always viewed it as traditionally WB's investment vehicle for placing his bets on the market. What about all the other firms in the "Berkshire basket?" I originally got interested in BRK because I wanted to know about its R/E exposure, which seems quite considerable with all the R/E subsidiaries operating within the firm. I wonder if valuing it as purely an "insurance firm" may cloud its true value and result in either an over or undervaluation of its true value, given the circumstances of the other subsidiary firms. Would love to hear more thoughts hear on this subject as well as the extent of BRK's exposure to R/E and perhaps its value.

Another point from this, so if WB is essentially letting BRK morph from a pseudo mutual / hedge fund to a more pure-based insurance firm, what does that say about his confidence in his current mgmt and eventual successor? Is he transitioning the firm to a more 'stable' business model, ie insurance, because he feels he can't find a successor / succession team that can pick stocks and make great acquisitions like he did?

Also definitely agree that having multiple models / valuations is key. This seems especially true for a firm like BRK that seems to have soo many moving parts. No one valuation will, IMO, give an exact measurement of true intrinsic value. True IV, by itself is kind of a misnomer too one could argue. Coming up with multiple valuations that all seem to be well within a reasonable range of each other would be the best way of making sure we are not fooling ourselves, lower-case f.


Love the thoughts, hope to hear more.

Dom
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