Category Archives: Seeking Alpha article

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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CVS Health: Dividend Stock Still a Strong Buy

CVS Health (NYSE:CVS) was substantially undervalued before the 7% pop on Wednesday. It remains a strong buy for long-term investors.

Why the Pop?

CVS reported its Q2 results on Wednesday. And the stock appreciated 7% because the business performed better than expected with the company beating its own Q2 adjusted earnings per share (“EPS”) guidance by 10%. As a result, it also boosted its full-year guidance modestly by about 1.8% to $6.89-7.00.

Additionally, the Aetna integration and debt reduction have been progressing well.

Q2 Results

Adjusted revenues increased 36% to $63.4 billion, adjusted operating income rising 55% to $4 billion, adjusted EPS rising 12% to $1.89, and cash flow from operations climbing 82% to $5.3 billion. The large spike in revenues and operating income is attributable to the Aetna acquisition, which was closed on November 28, 2018.

The Leveraged Balance Sheet

The Aetna acquisition resulted in CVS’s leveraged balance sheet. At the end of Q2, CVS’s net debt arrived at $61.3 billion, leading to a D/E of 99.6% and a debt-to-assets ratio of 28%.

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Which Stock is More Likely to Cut its Dividend?

Vermilion Energy (TSX:VET)(NYSE:VET) and TORC Oil & Gas (TSX:TOG) are trading at multi-year lows and offer yields of 10% and 7.6%, respectively. Which is more likely to cut its dividend?

There are some things that management can’t control, such as commodity prices, and there are some things that they can control, such as capital allocation (i.e., how much cash flow to allocate for reducing debt, sustaining the business, investing in growth projects, and paying dividends).

Looking at how the companies have handled their capital allocation in the past can give an idea of which oil & gas producer will more likely cut its dividend.

Vermilion

Vermilion’s stock has maintained or increased its cash distribution or dividend every year since 2003. Since 2003, VET’s total payout ratio (which accounts for sustaining capital, growth capital, and dividend) has expanded to as high as 162%, but the company didn’t once cut the dividend.

VET places a high priority on its dividend. If history is indicative of the future, then VET will try to maintain the dividend even when the operating environment is tough.

Notably, VET doesn’t have the tendency to buy back stock like other energy companies, such as Suncor Energy (TSX:SU)(NYSE:SU) and Canadian Natural Resources (TSX:CNQ)(NYSE:CNQ). Last year, the capital the company returned to shareholders was 100% dividends.

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