Thank You Warren Buffett

Many of you know I have been a big fan of Warren Buffett for over three decades. I got to know Mr. Buffett really well when he was asked to head investment bank Salomon Brothers after a scandal in 1991 involved in treasury bonds that nearly bankrupted the company. While I was an institutional stock guy at the firm working in New York at that time, most of the employees on the equity side of the firm didn’t really have any dealings with him but we all knew the situation was very serious if Mr. Buffett was asked to step in to become its interim Chairman. Long story short, Mr. Buffett and a few key executives led the firm out of this difficult time and shortly into the arms of Citigroup which owned Smith Barney that soon became Salomon Smith Barney. That experience was the beginning of my admiration for this remarkable man and investor.

Over the weekend Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway held its annual meeting in Omaha, Nebraska where thousands of Berkshire Hathaway shareholders come to hear the words of wisdom of Mr. Buffett and the executives from the stable of companies owned by the insurance conglomerate. The financial media will be all over the speeches and comments from the meeting Monday morning that may influence a few important companies that Berkshire Hathaway owns and is currently buying. I enjoy the investment wisdom Mr. Buffett refers to constantly when talking about their stock positions. His comments are a breath of fresh air to me and quickly brings me out of the funk and noise of Washington D.C. and other short term issues and returns my mind to look at stock positions as a piece of a business.

Investors that own Apple Inc. should drop to their knees and say thank you Warren Buffett for making this important company one of the major holdings in Berkshire over recent quarters. Apple, one of the largest market caps in the stock market, has been controversial over the last several years as analysts and strategists attempt to predict the short term sales of the newest generation of cell phones and other products. I agree with Mr. Buffett that the combination of customer satisfaction, growing service related businesses, huge cash reserves, and an ability to change the consumer marketplace related to music, cars, entertainment, and communication is hard to match by any competitors. I guarantee that Mr. Buffett doesn’t spend any time trying to predict the quarterly sales of the iPhone X or other products but does watch and monitor the growing moat of services and capital
allocation that the company is executing well at this time. No surprise, Apple stock got an extra kick last week from the recent news that Berkshire Hathaway now owns 5% of the company and they have been buying the shares over the last several months. That’s a pretty strong endorsement.

Should be a pretty interesting week ahead with a number of important earnings announcements and investor meetings. If the outside noise can be kept at a minimum there is a good chance we can build on the strong gains from last Friday.

Have a great week,

Roger N. Steed

May 7, 2018

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