FRI, OCT 13, 2023
What Todd Combs did right during his first meeting with Warren Buffett
Todd Combs says his willingness to give his honest opinion and unwillingness to "kiss ass" helped him get hired as one of Berkshire Hathaway's two investment managers in 2010.
Toward the end of a 67-minute conversation for the Art of Investing podcast from Colossus, Coombs describes his first meeting with Warren Buffett, before he was hired.
"Warren, he was right into stocks from the beginning," asking, for example, why Coombs favored Mastercard over Buffett's long-time favorite American Express.
And when Buffett asked if Progressive is better than GEICO, Combs told him the Berkshire unit is "better at marketing and branding, but Progressive is a data company and data is going to win in the long run."
(Coombs, who has been GEICO's CEO since 2020, added in his podcast interview, "And obviously, I didn't know the tech stack at GEICO like I do now.")
Todd Combs during an appearance on CNBC in 2014. Photo: CNBC | Lacy O'Toole
Coombs says he thinks Buffett "appreciated the candidness, because when you're CEO, or especially Warren or whatever, everybody kisses your ass, everybody tells you what they think you want to hear... and I just didn't care. I'm irreverent in that regard.
"This is my opinion, take it or leave it. I don't care. I don't have to agree with you. I'm not here to agree with you. And you're not here to agree with me. That is just my opinion. I could be wrong, but it is what it is. So that honesty, I guess, is at least genuine and authentic."
One big Berkshire name considered buying another big Berkshire name
Chevron and Occidental Petroleum logos as displayed on screens at the NYSE. Photos: REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
At today's closing prices, the Chevron stake is valued at $20.2 billion and the Occidental holding is worth $14.4 billion, for a total of $34.6 billion.
A combination of the two would be Berkshire's second-biggest holding, ahead of Bank of America at $27.6 billion, but still well behind Apple at $163.7 billion.
The Journal reports Chevron has "moved on to other, smaller targets" with several options among shale frackers in the Permian Basin.
It's under additional pressure to do a deal in the wake of Exxon Mobil's $60 billion deal this week to acquire Pioneer Natural Resources that will double Exxon's production volume in the Permian.
BUFFETT AROUND THE INTERNET
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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE ARCHIVE
Why Buffett doesn’t give to super PACs (2012)
Warren Buffett says it is tempting for him to spend millions on political causes he supports by contributing to super PACs, but "we've got enough a push toward a plutocracy from a lot of other factors that we don't need to throw it into the voting process."
BERKSHIRE'S TOP U.S. STOCK HOLDINGS - Oct. 13, 2023
Berkshire's top holdings of disclosed publicly-traded stocks in the U.S., Japan, and Hong Kong, by market value, based on today's closing prices.
Holdings are as of June 30, 2023 as reported in Berkshire Hathaway’s 13F filing on August 14, 2023, except for:
The full list of holdings and current market values is available from CNBC.com's Berkshire Hathaway Portfolio Tracker.
Please send any questions or comments about the newsletter to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Sorry, but we don't forward questions or comments to Buffett himself.)
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Also, Buffett's annual letters to shareholders are highly-recommended reading. There are collected here on Berkshire's website.
-- Alex Crippen, Editor, Warren Buffett Watch
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