Category Archives: Growth Investing

Buy Berkshire Hathaway: Follow The Oracle Of Omaha

Since 2018, Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A)(NYSE:BRK.B) stock has been in consolidation mode, which should pique the interest of long-term investors.

Long-term market-beating performance

Warren Buffett has been a great long-term investor and has generated excellent total returns over many years. From 1965 to 2018, BRK’s book value per share (“BVPS”) compounded at 18.7% per year, while the stock compounded at 20.5% per year, which more than doubled the S&P 500 total returns of 9.7% per year.

The Berkshire Advantage

The Top-Notch Insurance Operations

Berkshire’s well-run underlying insurance business generates float as a source of low-cost capital. In The Outsiders written by William N. Thorndike, Jr. that discusses “eight unconventional CEOs and their radically rational blueprint for success”, the author explained that

Over time, Buffett evolved an idiosyncratic strategy for his insurance operations that emphasized profitable underwriting and float generation over growth in premium revenue. This approach, wildly different from most other insurance companies, relied on a willingness to avoid underwriting insurance when pricing was low, even if short-term profitability might suffer, and, conversely, a propensity to write extraordinarily large amounts of business when prices were attractive. (Page 179)

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Are High Return Investments Too Good to be True?

Who doesn’t want high returns on their investments? However, when something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. More specifically, when certain stocks deliver excellent returns, ask yourself what’s the risk behind them.

coins stacking higher and higher with plant behind each stack indicating growth of money

Here are some examples.

High Return Tech Stocks

Shopify (TSX:SHOP)(NYSE:SHOP) has got to be one of the highest return tech stocks out there. Here’s a chart that shows its total returns since inception compared to other big tech names.

Yes, Shopify stock kicked the butts of the FANG stocks, Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), and Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL)(NASDAQ:GOOG).

SHOP Chart

SHOP data by YCharts

However, Shopify’s valuation is super duper expensive. At about US$200 per share, it trades at a blended P/E of about 500 and a PEG ratio of about 20.

Compare that to:

  • Facebook’s P/E of about 23.2 and a PEG ratio of about 1.5 at US$175 per share,
  • Amazon’s P/E of about 83.6 and a PEG ratio of roughly 1.4-2.8 at US$1850 per share,
  • Netflix’s P/E of about 120 and a PEG ratio of 2.4-3.9 at US$361 per share, and
  • Alphabet’s P/E of about 27.3 and a PEG ratio of 1.5-1.9 at US$1208 per share for GOOGL.

Surely, Shopify is growing at a super fast rate. For example, revenue growth was 59% in 2018. However, because of its astronomical valuation, it’s especially subject to an especially huge drawdown when we experience a market meltdown.

By the way, I don’t categorize the little correction we had from October to December 2018 as a market meltdown. In that period, Shopify fell from a high of about US$168 to a low of about US$120 for a drop of 28%. Imagine what a real market meltdown can do to Shopify stock (at least in the short term).

Biotech Stocks

Biotech stocks did very well for a long time. The long-term price chart of iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology Index (NASDAQ:IBB) illustrates the big picture.

Source: Google Finance with author annotatio
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This Growth Stock is Priced at a Tremendous Discount

Summary

  • Brookfield Business Partners has +30 years of proven track record in investing and managing businesses on a global basis.
  • It aims for returns of 15-20%.
  • Buying the stock on big corrections can lead to even higher returns for you.
  • The risks lie in the strong reliance on management competency and the limited partnership having volatile earnings/cash flows from buying and selling businesses. This makes it very difficult to value the stock.

What Does BBU Do?

Brookfield Business Partners LP (TSX:BBU.UN)(NYSE:BBU) acquires high-quality businesses that are either market leaders or are businesses that it can improve on by applying its global investing and operational expertise.

Ultimately, BBU believes that the businesses that it acquires will generate strong cash flow — if not now, then in the future (after it improves the operations). When a business has maximized its value, BBU would sell it and redeploy the proceeds in better opportunities for higher returns.

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