Berkshire watchers hoping Buffett will outline plans for massive cash horde


FRI, FEB 22, 2019


Buffett's annual letter due tomorrow amid speculation on Berkshire's cash


Warren Buffett's annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders will be published on the company's website tomorrow (Saturday morning).


On Monday morning, Buffett will be live on CNBC's "Squawk Box" from 6a to 9a ET for "Ask Warren 2019."


We'll have special editions of the newsletter with summaries on both Saturday and Monday mornings.


In the meantime, there are plenty of letter previews:



Berkshire's Kraft Heinz holding badly bruised as stock plunges


Berkshire's big stake in Kraft Heinz dropped more than $4 billion on paper after the company's stock plunged 27% on a string of bearish news Thursday evening, including a dividend cut, government investigation, and a $15B writedown on the value of its Kraft and Oscar Mayer brands. 


CNBC's Thomas Franck notes that Buffett's fondness for well-known consumer brands, including Cola-Cola, has "come at a cost in recent years amid a shift toward healthier and local food and beverage options." (Vanity Fair specifically blames "green juice-swilling millennials."


And Eric Rosenbaum writes on that Berkshire's 2013 investment in Kraft Heinz was unprecedented because he teamed up with Brazilian private equity giant 3G Capital and Jorge Paulo Lemann to do the deal, despite his long-standing criticism of PE firms for cutting costs and taking quick profits by reselling what they had bought. Buffett said this time both partners were in it for the long haul.


Amid criticism of 3G's management of Kraft Heinz, including a lot of cost cutting, and its subsequent implosion, Rosenbaum suggests "Buffett may face many more questions about whether Berkshire should ever repeat the 3G approach." 


Berkshire reportedly in talks to sell workers comp unit



Berkshire Hathaway is in "advanced discussions" to sell its Applied Underwriters workers compensation unit, reports Reuters today, citing "people familiar with the matter."


The report says the unit would be sold to a consortium of insurance firms.


The sale of a business by Buffett would be very unusual, but Reuters quotes its sources as saying Applied Underwriters "now sits outside Berkshire Hathaway's insurance focus, making it a non-core asset Buffett wishes to shed."


No comment from Berkshire to Reuters.





Berkshire Hathaway Class A shares closed at $302,000 Friday, down 0.5% over the previous four weeks, and up 0.2% from one year ago.

Berkshire Hathaway Class B shares closed at $201.91, down 0.4% over the previous four weeks, and up 0.6% from one year ago.

The benchmark S&P 500 index closed at 2792.67, up 4.8% over the previous four weeks, and up 3.3% from one year ago.



Berkshire's top stock holdings by market value, based on today's closing prices. The number of shares held is as of December 31, 2018, as disclosed in the company's February 14 13-F SEC filing.


The full list of holdings and current market values is available from's Berkshire Hathaway Portfolio Tracker.



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