Buffett’s Resolutions for 2020

This past year was “unremarkable” for Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway as the conglomerate’s cash hoards continued to grow and any “elephant” acquisitions remained elusive. This according to a recent article in Bloomberg.

The article notes that although the past year was “boring” for Berkshire, it marked the end of a “transformative” decade that included the following events:

  • Berkshire’s purchase of BNSF, “America’s most expansive railroad systems” as well as recognizable brands such as Duracell and Kraft Heinz.
  • Holdings at the start of the decade were led by consumer stocks such as Coca Cola and Procter &Gamble, but evolved to where, today, nearly three-quarters of the portfolio is accounted for by Apple stock as well as bank and credit card company holdings.
  • Buffett took “meaningful steps toward succession planning by promoting Greg Abela and Ajit Jain to oversee all Berkshire operations.”

Although the 86-year-old Buffett has searched far and wide for a big acquisition worthy of some of Berkshire’s $128 billion in cash reserves, he has yet to find a good value. The article reports that his last “elephant” deal was the purchase of Precision Castparts four years ago for $37 billion. This past November, Berkshire was outbid on a $5 billion deal for Tech Data.

“U.S. stocks haven’t been getting any cheaper for Buffett,” the article concludes, adding that some see his cash hoarding partly as an “insurance policy in case his health deteriorates, so that there’s added financial flexibility for the next CEO. But knowing Buffett,” it adds, “he’ll want to go out with a bang. Finding one last elephant should be his New Year’s resolution.”