BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY BRK.B
February 23, 2009 - 12:03pm EST by
unkown345
2009 2010
Price: 2,385.00 EPS $167.00 $179.00
Shares Out. (in M): 0 P/E 14.0x 12.2x
Market Cap (in M): 116,500 P/FCF 15.0x 12.0x
Net Debt (in M): 0 EBIT 0 0
TEV: 0 TEV/EBIT 3.5x 3.1x

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Description

Berkshire Hathaway Share Class Spread Trade

The idea is to buy Berkshire Hathaway Class B Stock (BRK.B) while shorting Berkshire Hathaway Class A (BRK.A) stock. 

Currently the spread is approximately $5200 per share.

 

BRK.A is convertible into 30 shares BRK.B.  

BRK.A has greater voting rights.

In all other ways, the shares are "equal".

Historically the shares have traded at roughly equal (30:1) prices.  On various occasions the spreads have widened during market declines or severe periods of volatility.  Since the BRK.B shares are lower priced they are typically owned by smaller, more retail type investors.  The Gates Foundation and WEB also own B Shares (which are sold for charitable purposes, perhaps causing occasional downward pressure). 

 

As of 10/31/2008 there were the following amounts of stock outstanding

Class Buffett Munger Gates Owned Outstanding  %
       
A 364,587 1,060,657 34.4%
       
B 4,082,980 14,657,083 27.9%

The B shares typically trade 40k shares a day.  Last Wednesday 2/18/2009 to Friday 2/20/2009 they traded 75k-175k.

Unconfirmed rumors were that there were holders being margin called in the class B shares.  While it would be interesting if true, it is not a cornerstone of the bet.

We do know there was irrational selling of B shares which depressed the prices (as it is unlikely to be something fundamental about the B shares in particular which would cause them to be sold down to this large a discount).

 

Catalysts

Return of rationality

Ceasing of B Share selling

A Holders swap into B Shares and sell A shares (and also realize likely tax losses for recent purchasers of A shares)

 

Risks

Market remains irrational (and gets more so)

Classic LTCM relative value trade.

 

 

Below is a memo written by Warren Buffett.

 

BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY INC.
1440 KIEWIT PLAZA
OMAHA, NEBRASKA 68131
TELEPHONE (402) 346-1400

WARREN E. BUFFETT, CHAIRMAN

Memo

From: Warren Buffett
Subject: Comparative Rights and Relative Prices of Berkshire Class A and Class B Stock
Date: February 2, 1999   Updated July 3, 2003

Comparison of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Class A and Class B Common Stock

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. has two classes of common stock designated Class A and Class B. A share of Class B common stock has the rights of 1/30th of a share of Class A common stock except that a Class B share has 1/200th of the voting rights of a Class A share (rather than 1/30th of the vote). Each share of a Class A common stock is convertible at any time, at the holder's option, into 30 shares of Class B common stock. This conversion privilege does not extend in the opposite direction. That is, holders of Class B shares are not able to convert them into Class A shares. Both Class A & B shareholders are entitled to attend the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting which is held the first Saturday in May.

The Relative Prices of Berkshire Class A and Class B Stock

The Class B can never sell for anything more than a tiny fraction above 1/30th of the price of A. When it rises above 1/30th, arbitrage takes place in which someone ¾ perhaps the NYSE specialist ¾ buys the A and converts it into B. This pushes the prices back into a 1:30 ratio.

On the other hand, the B can sell for less than 1/30th the price of the A since conversion doesn't go in the reverse direction. All of this was spelled out in the prospectus that accompanied the issuance of the Class B.

When there is more demand for the B (relative to supply) than for the A, the B will sell at roughly 1/30th of the price of A. When there's a lesser demand, it will fall to a discount.

In my opinion, most of the time, the demand for the B will be such that it will trade at about 1/30th of the price of the A. However, from time to time, a different supply-demand situation will prevail and the B will sell at some discount. In my opinion, again, when the B is at a discount of more than say, 2%, it offers a better buy than the A. When the two are at parity, however, anyone wishing to buy 30 or more B should consider buying A instead.

 

Catalyst

 

Catalysts

Return of rationality

Ceasing of B Share selling

A Holders swap into B Shares and sell A shares (and also realize likely tax losses for recent purchasers of A shares)

 

Risks

Market remains irrational (and gets more so)

Classic LTCM relative value trade.

 

 

 

Disclaimer:

 

 The author of this posting and related persons or entities ("Author") currently own the shares of Berkshire Hathaway Class B ("BRKB") and have short and long positions in securities of Berkshire Hathaway Class A ("BRKA").  The Author makes no representation that it will continue to hold positions in the securities of BRKA or BRKB.  In fact the Author is likely to buy or sell long or short securities of either issuer and makes no representation or undertaking that Author will inform Value Investors Club, the reader or anyone else prior to or after making such transactions.  Additionally, because the Author has these current positions the reader may assume that the Author is biased in favor of his investment view and may also be mistaken.  While the Author has tried to present facts it believes are accurate, the Author makes no representation as to the accuracy or completeness of any information contained in this note.  The reader agrees to not invest based on this note and to perform his or her own due diligence and research before making an investment in securities of these issuers.  Reader agrees to hold Author harmless and hereby waives any causes of action against Author related to the above note.

 

 

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    Description

    Berkshire Hathaway Share Class Spread Trade

    The idea is to buy Berkshire Hathaway Class B Stock (BRK.B) while shorting Berkshire Hathaway Class A (BRK.A) stock. 

    Currently the spread is approximately $5200 per share.

     

    BRK.A is convertible into 30 shares BRK.B.  

    BRK.A has greater voting rights.

    In all other ways, the shares are "equal".

    Historically the shares have traded at roughly equal (30:1) prices.  On various occasions the spreads have widened during market declines or severe periods of volatility.  Since the BRK.B shares are lower priced they are typically owned by smaller, more retail type investors.  The Gates Foundation and WEB also own B Shares (which are sold for charitable purposes, perhaps causing occasional downward pressure). 

     

    As of 10/31/2008 there were the following amounts of stock outstanding

    Class Buffett Munger Gates Owned Outstanding  %
           
    A 364,587 1,060,657 34.4%
           
    B 4,082,980 14,657,083 27.9%

    The B shares typically trade 40k shares a day.  Last Wednesday 2/18/2009 to Friday 2/20/2009 they traded 75k-175k.

    Unconfirmed rumors were that there were holders being margin called in the class B shares.  While it would be interesting if true, it is not a cornerstone of the bet.

    We do know there was irrational selling of B shares which depressed the prices (as it is unlikely to be something fundamental about the B shares in particular which would cause them to be sold down to this large a discount).

     

    Catalysts

    Return of rationality

    Ceasing of B Share selling

    A Holders swap into B Shares and sell A shares (and also realize likely tax losses for recent purchasers of A shares)

     

    Risks

    Market remains irrational (and gets more so)

    Classic LTCM relative value trade.

     

     

    Below is a memo written by Warren Buffett.

     

    BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY INC.
    1440 KIEWIT PLAZA
    OMAHA, NEBRASKA 68131
    TELEPHONE (402) 346-1400

    WARREN E. BUFFETT, CHAIRMAN

    Memo

    From: Warren Buffett
    Subject: Comparative Rights and Relative Prices of Berkshire Class A and Class B Stock
    Date: February 2, 1999   Updated July 3, 2003

    Comparison of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Class A and Class B Common Stock

    Berkshire Hathaway Inc. has two classes of common stock designated Class A and Class B. A share of Class B common stock has the rights of 1/30th of a share of Class A common stock except that a Class B share has 1/200th of the voting rights of a Class A share (rather than 1/30th of the vote). Each share of a Class A common stock is convertible at any time, at the holder's option, into 30 shares of Class B common stock. This conversion privilege does not extend in the opposite direction. That is, holders of Class B shares are not able to convert them into Class A shares. Both Class A & B shareholders are entitled to attend the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting which is held the first Saturday in May.

    The Relative Prices of Berkshire Class A and Class B Stock

    The Class B can never sell for anything more than a tiny fraction above 1/30th of the price of A. When it rises above 1/30th, arbitrage takes place in which someone ¾ perhaps the NYSE specialist ¾ buys the A and converts it into B. This pushes the prices back into a 1:30 ratio.

    On the other hand, the B can sell for less than 1/30th the price of the A since conversion doesn't go in the reverse direction. All of this was spelled out in the prospectus that accompanied the issuance of the Class B.

    When there is more demand for the B (relative to supply) than for the A, the B will sell at roughly 1/30th of the price of A. When there's a lesser demand, it will fall to a discount.

    In my opinion, most of the time, the demand for the B will be such that it will trade at about 1/30th of the price of the A. However, from time to time, a different supply-demand situation will prevail and the B will sell at some discount. In my opinion, again, when the B is at a discount of more than say, 2%, it offers a better buy than the A. When the two are at parity, however, anyone wishing to buy 30 or more B should consider buying A instead.

     

    Catalyst

     

    Catalysts

    Return of rationality

    Ceasing of B Share selling

    A Holders swap into B Shares and sell A shares (and also realize likely tax losses for recent purchasers of A shares)

     

    Risks

    Market remains irrational (and gets more so)

    Classic LTCM relative value trade.

     

     

     

    Disclaimer:

     

     The author of this posting and related persons or entities ("Author") currently own the shares of Berkshire Hathaway Class B ("BRKB") and have short and long positions in securities of Berkshire Hathaway Class A ("BRKA").  The Author makes no representation that it will continue to hold positions in the securities of BRKA or BRKB.  In fact the Author is likely to buy or sell long or short securities of either issuer and makes no representation or undertaking that Author will inform Value Investors Club, the reader or anyone else prior to or after making such transactions.  Additionally, because the Author has these current positions the reader may assume that the Author is biased in favor of his investment view and may also be mistaken.  While the Author has tried to present facts it believes are accurate, the Author makes no representation as to the accuracy or completeness of any information contained in this note.  The reader agrees to not invest based on this note and to perform his or her own due diligence and research before making an investment in securities of these issuers.  Reader agrees to hold Author harmless and hereby waives any causes of action against Author related to the above note.

     

     

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