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Known book per share dropped quite a bit when the year end statements came out, mainly because of the drop in market prices of some of the stock portfolio.
Underlying earnings, the cash balance, and any reasonably prudent estimate of the true fair value of the firm actually rose in Q4. They make an awful lot of money every week.
But book per share doesn't always catch that.


Good to know and an interesting problem. To Warren's point, mark-to-market now makes book a bit dubious to look at. In a falling market we will have last quarter's higher book under today's lower market price, giving the tempting illusion of a cheap P/B. In a rising market P/B will appear as always-out-of-reach expensive.

The most interesting thing about the annual letter that just came out is that Mr Buffett proposes a rather different way of valuing the firm, which is certainly pretty simple.

"I believe Berkshire’s intrinsic value can be approximated by summing the values of our four asset-laden groves and then subtracting an appropriate amount for taxes eventually payable on the sale of marketable securities."

He provides the current after-tax-and-everything earnings figures for three of those, and the market value for the fourth. The unstated but reasonable assumption that the last one, cash and short-term fixed income, is simply worth face value. I'll have to ponder this view a bit.


Might be time to take a look at such alternative approaches.
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