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Tue, 25th April 2017

Anirudh Sethi Report

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Archives of “berkshire hathaway” Tag

Amazon Stock $100 Away From Making Jeff Bezos World’s Richest Man

Last Thursday, when AMZN stock – currently trading at some ridiculous four or more digit P/E multiple  – made its latest spurt higher, we reported that as a result of the move, Jeff Bezos was now richer than Warren Buffett and fast approaching Bill Gates.

As a reminder, just last Wednesday Bezos added $1.5 billion to his net worth, the day after the e-commerce giant announced it will buy Dubai-based online retailer Souq.com, and has added over $7 billion since the global equities rally began following the election of Donald Trump. As of last week, Bezos had a net worth of $75.6 billion based on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. That’s $700 million more than Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s Buffett and $1.3 billion above Ortega, the founder of Inditex SA and Europe’s richest person.

That said, as of last Thursday, Bezos remained just over $10 billion behind Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, the world’s richest person with $86 billion.

But not for long, because fast forward less than a week later, when following a number of more sellside upgrades, Bezos is nearly there.

The latest catalyst: a “research” report from BMO’s Daniel Salmon who upgraded the company to BMO’s Top Pick, boosting his price target from $900 to $1,200. The alleged catalyst: Amazon is next set to challenge Google on its advertising business, to wit:

Index Investing Unmasked: 96% Of Stocks Are Garbage

Warren Buffett released his annual letter over the weekend, in which he praised Jack Bogle as his “hero” for promoting index investing. The irony is that investors would have been better off buying Berkshire shares. Over the last 10 years, Berkshire stock is up 139% while the S&P 500 is up 71%. The real question is why Buffett just doesn’t tout his own stock rather than promote index investing. He tries to explain himself:

 “Charlie and I prefer to see Berkshire shares sell in a fairly narrow range around intrinsic value, neither wishing them to sell at an unwarranted high price – it’s no fun having owners who are disappointed with their purchases – nor one too low.”

Buffett is doing something every skilled salesman does: managing expectations. Buffett’s own performance is compared against the S&P 500, and what better way to win that game than by putting a floor under the Berkshire price with the promise of share buybacks and then putting a ceiling on the stock by promoting index investing? The real secret is Buffett is talking his book by not talking it: Rather than tell investors to buy Berkshire at any price, he tells people to invest passively through an index, which leads to the very market inefficiencies that he profits from.

The great appeal of index investing is its low fees, but like buying a cheap pair of shoes that falls apart after 6 months, investors will find that index investing is the most expensive thing they ever did. Vanguard promotes its rock bottom expense ratios, but what is not published is market impact costs that are incurred when the fund rebalances. Since these rebalances are often announced ahead of time, they are extremely vulnerable to front running. Christophe Bernard, PhD Senior Scientist at Winton Capital Management, estimates that front running costs index investors 0.20% per year. That’s 4 times the official expense ratio of Vanguard’s S&P 500 ETF.

In his latest research, finance professor Hendrik Bessembinder discovered that 58% of stocks don’t even outperform a Treasury bill. This study was based on 26,000 stocks from 1926 to 2015. Just 4% of stocks accounted for all of the $31.8 trillion in gains during this period. That means 96% of stocks were complete garbage. Even worse, shares of unprofitable companies outperform their profitable counterparts, which is why you have a marketplace that is dominated by Twitters and Teslas.

Index investing means buying a box of garbage stocks sprinkled with a few hope and glamour stocks whose price gains are solely a result of underperforming fund managers grasping for quarterly bonuses and retail investors juicing up their portfolios in a doomed attempt to catch up on their retirement targets.

While mom and pop buy a Vanguard index with their $500,000 and get front run all day by proprietary traders, the capitalist televangelist Warren Buffett will continue to actively trade billions while preaching the miracle of buy and hold investing.

Here’s something to watch out for over the weekend – a letter from Buffett!

Warren Buffett, not Jimmy Buffet, that is – this  weekend he sends his annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders

Apparently there is a countdown going on, the letter is expected at 8am NY time on Saturday
That’s 1300GMT
What’s gonna be in the letter?

 

Kraft withdraws offer to merge with Unilever

U.S. food company Kraft Heinz Co withdrew its proposal for a $143-billion merger with larger rival Unilever Plc, the companies said on Sunday, raising questions about Kraft’s next steps and whether it could turn its focus to another target.

Kraft had made a surprise offer for Unilever in a bid to build a global consumer goods behemoth that was flatly rejected on Friday by Unilever, the maker of Lipton tea and Dove soap.

 Kraft withdrew its offer because it felt it was too difficult to negotiate a deal following the public disclosure of its bid so early following its approach to Unilever, according to people familiar with the matter who requested anonymity to discuss confidential deliberations.

Some key concerns raised during talks included potential UK government scrutiny as well as differences between the companies’ cultures and business models, one of the people said.

Kraft was forced to publicly disclose its offer to Unilever on Friday to comply with Britain’s takeover regulations, after rumors of its approach to Unilever circulated among stock traders.

Next Week -Watch out :Week ahead: Greece, Fed minutes, Buffett letter

Don’t be fooled by the the holiday-shortened trading week in the US. Next week promises to give investors plenty to watch, including the Greek bailout, minutes of the Federal Reserve’s last meeting, Bank of England governor Mark Carney’s testimony, retail earnings and Warren Buffett’s annual letter.

Here’s what to look for in the coming days.

Greece

The meeting has also gained additional significance, as the last major one slated before European elections begin next month, starting with the Dutch.

“With the two largest eurozone economies facing elections this year, we believe it is in
their policymakers’ interests to contain any potential risks from Greek disruption,” said economists at Nomura. “We therefore expect some transitory agreement to be reached at least at the eurozone level, with the IMF decision on programme participation likely to be delayed even further”.

Carney testimony

Following Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen’s semi-annual testimony to Congress, investors get to hear from her UK counterpart when Mark Carney testifies before the UK parliament’s Treasury Committee on Tuesday. Mr Carney’s testimony comes after the BoE upgraded its economic forecast, while leaving its inflation forecast and interest-rate policy on hold.

“Since the inflation report was published two weeks ago, we’ve seen downside surprises to wage growth, inflation, and retail sales,” said strategists at TD Securities. “So even after the IR was more dovish than markets expected, we may see a further dovish tone with the IR testimony given the soft tone of the recent data releases.”

Fed minutes

The Federal Reserve will release the minutes of its last monetary policy meeting on Wednesday, though they may seem dated since investors have just heard from Ms Yellen. In her testimony to Congress this week, she painted an upbeat view of the US economy and warned that it would be “unwise” to wait too long before raising interest rates.

Bank of America economists say they believe the minutes will reflect “a great deal of focus on both upside and downside risks,” even as Fed officials “become increasingly constructive on the outlook for the economy.”

Moreover, any discussion on the Fed’s balance sheet is likely to garner interest. “Yellen reiterated the view that the primary tool remains rates and that the balance sheet will only be addressed once the normalization of the fed funds rate is well under way,” said the folks at Bank of America. “We expect the minutes to reinforce this view, but there might be some discussion among members on the issue.”

Betting On Trump: Buffett Bought $12 Billion In Stocks Since The Election

Count one of Hillary Clinton’s biggest financial backers, billionaire Warren Buffet, among the biggest fans of the “Trump rally.”

In an interview with Charlie Rose recorded on Friday, Warren Buffett said that since the election day, Berkshire Hathaway bought $12 billion in stock. This was a change in strategy for Buffett, who as it turns out was a net seller in the first nine days of the month, when Hillary seemed like a guaranteed winner in the November election, one which Buffett was selling into.

“We’ve, net, bought $12 billion of common stocks since the election,” he said in an interview with Charlie Rose that aired on Friday. Buffett didn’t identify the securities that he picked. As of Sept. 30, Berkshire had an equity portfolio valued at $102.5 billion.

Purchases of that magnitude represent a major pickup in activity for Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire. During the first nine months of last year, the company bought $5.2 billion and sold or redeemed roughly $20 billion worth of stocks, according to a regulatory filing. In 2015, Berkshire bought about $10 billion of equity securities

For now, Buffett’s bet has proven wise: stocks have rallied since the Trump victory as investors speculated that the Republican’s policies will stimulate the economy. However, in recent days gains have been pared as the Trumpflation rally is rapidly cooling. On Monday, after the turbulent rollout of an immigration order raised concern that the new administration may follow through with isolationist policies, stocks plunged by the most in 2017.

Buffett also told Rose he was skeptical that the U.S. could increase output at a 4 percent annual clip, as the president has said he’s aiming to achieve. “That’s pretty high,” Buffett said. “Two percent will produce miracles.”

Some more details: 

Rose asked if Buffett’s most-recent purchases included airlines. Buffett ducked the question, saying only that Berkshire held stakes in airlines as of Sept. 30.

In November, Berkshire disclosed that it held in American Airlines Group Inc., Delta Air Lines Inc., and United Continental Holdings Inc. at the end of the third quarter. The billionaire said that month that Berkshire also bought a stake in Southwest Airlines Co. since Sept. 30.  Buffett told Rose he wouldn’t get into why Berkshire bought the shares, but said that it was “in large part” his decision.

Previously Buffett said he’s confident in the U.S. economy’s long-term prospects no matter who wins an individual election, although he had a clear preference for Hillary winning.

The Dow Is The Most Overbought In Over 20 Years (And Options Traders Have Never Been More Bullish)

The Dow Jones Industrial Average has only been more overbought than it is today four times in the last one hundred years.

Having risen for 21 of the last 25 days, The Dow is the most overbought since 1996:

Overnight Dow Jones closed up 65 points.New High Continues….

Stocks gained Thursday, the Nasdaq joining the Dow, S&P 500 and Russell 2000 in record territory as all four indexes hit new all-time closing highs.

After a quiet start, major U.S. stock indexes jumped in afternoon trading as the market built on a surge the previous day. Banks and basic materials companies made the biggest gains, and technology companies also climbed. Defense contractors and other industrial companies took losses.

The small-stock Russell 2000 surged 1.5%.

Meanwhile the Dow Jones industrial average ended up about 65 points, or 0.3%. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 0.2%. The Nasdaq composite jumped 0.4%.

These are the new closing highs for the four indexes:

► Dow: 19,614.81
► S&P 500: 2246.19
► Nasdaq: 5417.36
► Russell 2000: 1386.37

U.S. government bond prices fell, sending yields higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.40% from 2.34%. That drove banks stocks up since higher interest rates will allow banks to charge more for lending money. Goldman Sachs (GS), which has surged 32% since the presidential election and is trading at a nine-year high, was up 2.5%, and Bank of America (BAC) picked up 1.7%.

European stocks climbed for the second day in a row. Germany’s DAX index was up 1.8% and France’s CA 40 index gained 0.9%. London’s FTSE 100 rose 0.4%.

Buffett Wins Again: Berkshire To Get $29 Billion Boost Under Trump Tax Plan

Something curious happened as Trump was “draining the swamp” – the man who by some accounts owns the swamp, Hillary Clinton’s billionaire backer Warren Buffett, may be about to get some $29 billion richer, if only on paper, thanks to Trump’s tax-rate cut policies which would boost the book value of Berkshire by as much as $29 billion.

According to an analysis by Barclays, Berkshire may soon enjoy a $29 billion boost to its book value under Trump’s proposed tax reform. “We would view this magnitude of increase as favorable for Berkshire shares since it is generally valued on price to book value,” Barclays analysts led by Jay Gelb said in a note to investors Monday first reported by Bloomberg. Berkshire’s book value was more than $270 billion as of Sept. 30; it would surpass $300 billion should Trump’s proposal for a 15% corporate tax rate be enacted.

Joining in the overall market frenzy, Berkshire has jumped about 8% in New York trading since Trump won the November 8 election, helped by the increasing value of Buffett’sholdings in bank stocks as interest rates climbed, however it appears the prospect of sharply lower taxes has helped.

No Mistry at Tata Consultancy Services as chairman replaced

Tata Consultancy Services, the main source of profits for India’s Tata conglomerate, has removed Cyrus Mistry as its chairman – the first operating company to do so following his dismissal from the chair of group holding company Tata Sons.

The IT services company said in a stock exchange announcement that it had received a letter from Tata Sons nominating the existing director Ishaat Hussein as its chairman, and that he had therefore replaced Mr Mistry “with immediate effect”. It did not disclose whether any board meeting had been held to discuss the matter

Tata Sons has also called for an extraordinary general meeting of shareholders to remove Mr Mistry as a director of TCS, the announcement said.

Mr Mistry was dismissed from the chairmanship of Tata Sons on October 24, in an unexpected move that he has since publicly protested. He remains a director of the holding company, in which is family controls an 18 per cent stake.