Message Font: Serif | Sans-Serif
No. of Recommendations: 33
1. The table on page 5. The diminishing effect of capital gains, over time, and the ever-increasing importance of earnings from operations will render the capital gains to a rounding error in another 20 years. It was eye opening that for 15 years, operations have outpaced capital gains. I suspect the earnings from operations in the past three years are greater than capital gains in the entire history. Perhaps Ted and Todd will increase the numbers in the capital gains column more over time.

2. Beyond the letter, we see $96b+ in purchases of treasuries on page 38. This is a huge jump over anything in recent reports, over 5x what was bought in 2015. I couple this with the verbige in the letter about waiting for a ten year economic storm to rain gold coins (and bring your washtubs, not teaspoons, when it does), as a reasonably clear indicator that there aren't many equities to be found at good prices today. My own behavior has reflected that; with a very lofty P/E of the S&P over the last few years, I've allocated my limited choices in my work retirement plan further and further out of the S&P.

3. As he's made very little mention of individual companies in the ever-increasing list of holdings, other than a few letter references to the absolute biggest, digging down into the financial data and the accompanying explanatory narratives yielded a bit. NetJets disappointed a bit. I hearken back to the pilots standing in the background a year or two ago during one of his extended interviews with CNBC, and see that they reached a collective bargaining agreement with them in late 2015. Likewise, Lubrizol had a tough year. No mention of Iscar at all. He's recounted some of the old, known mistakes in the letter - Dexter and such - but hasn't touched the new challenges so much.

4. His quote from Meg McConnell on page 6 was very incisive in that we are often asked to try and identify the next strategic risk, catastrophe, or what not, but rarely do so...either in type or when the storm will fall. Conversely, they tend to find us. I'm taking that to my boss at work tomorrow. As one of my friends said, "you, sir, are a dangerous iconoclast." I'm sure it will go over well, considering one of our primary missions is to prevent strategic surprise.

5. On page 9, his discussion of the intrinsic value being much greater (by their reckoning, not GAAP, and of course this was but one of many railings against GAAP) because of the $64b increase in float was an eyebrow raiser. If the huge increases in float continue like this, the market will eventually realize this and it really helps set a bottom on the value.

6. In depicting Berkshire as more conservative in avoiding risk than its insurer contemporaries, it reminded me of him depicting stock selection as playing a modified game of baseball with no called strikes. Watch thousands of pitches go by, hour after hour, day after day. And so it seems it goes with underwriting opportunities. Bravo.

7. I'm curious what the high tech installations are that Iowa has attracted. Data centers and supercomputing have a big sunk demand for electricity...and 7.1 cents/kwh? Whoa.

8. Not feeling very good about Duracell, and not sure what the attraction was. Batteries are very, very fungible, and I haven't bought a name brand battery in many years.

9. On page 16, he understandably and to no surprise takes issue with making the numbers. But, GE, who rarely vary from their numbers by even a penny, are a fairly long standing holding. Only about $300m, which is a Berkshire rounding error. Just the same, sort of jumped off the page to me.

10. "There is no one more important to us than the shareholder of limited means who trusts us with a substantial portion of his or her savings."

I smirked that he just killed it in the bet. And I'm now referring to consultants as hyper-helpers. All in all a good year.
Print the post  


When Life Gives You Lemons
We all have had hardships and made poor decisions. The important thing is how we respond and grow. Read the story of a Fool who started from nothing, and looks to gain everything.
Contact Us
Contact Customer Service and other Fool departments here.
Work for Fools?
Winner of the Washingtonian great places to work, and Glassdoor #1 Company to Work For 2015! Have access to all of TMF's online and email products for FREE, and be paid for your contributions to TMF! Click the link and start your Fool career.