In the 1990s, no stock contributed more to the earnings per share growth rate of the S&P 500 than Wal-Mart stock. It had been an elevator upward delivering 16% annual earnings per share growth throughout the decade, fresh on the heels of delivering 31.5% annual growth between 1972 and 1990. From 2000 through 2012, the party continued, as Wal-Mart grew earnings per share from $1.40 per share in 2000 to $5.02 in 2012. Although the best gains came to Wal-Mart’s early investors, participating in the growth of the business between 1972 and 2012 had been a blessing for any investor that chose to buy Wal-Mart outright instead of investing in something like an index fund.
The past three years have not been as kind to Wal-Mart shareholders. Between 2012 and 2015, earnings per share have exactly come down a bit. Wal-Mart made $5.02 in 2012, and is only expected to … Read the rest of this article!
There is a reason why debt matters. There is a reason why you have to dig in and study balance sheets instead of making investment decisions based on what you see pop up in a stock screener. For instance, imagine if you looked up Weight Watchers. You would see a stock generating $1.26 per share in profits and trading at a valuation of 5x earnings. That would look like a really good deal. You can reasonably think, “Hey, America has an obesity problem that is only going to get worse, and people are going to want to use services like Weight Watchers to get their BMI under control.”
This would likely lead to disaster because Weight Watchers has completely reckless management that tackled on an ungodly amount of debt during the early 2000s to repurchase stock and temporarily please Wall Street by beating expectations without giving a hoot about the … Read the rest of this article!
Berkshire Hathaway is sitting on an overwhelming amount of cash. It overshadows just about every other company I study in terms of raw, untapped earnings power. As of last quarter, Warren Buffett had $62 billion in cash sitting on Berkshire’s balance sheet. The market capitalization of the stock is $360 billion, meaning 17.2% of your purchase price is sitting in cash alone. If you buy a share of Berkshire for $145, your look-through portion of cash is $24.94 per share. The only other companies in similar situations are tech giants like Microsoft and Apple where the long-term business model is subject to rapid changes in technology in a way that Berkshire Hathaway is not.
Absent a hurricane or natural disaster in the near-term that cause Berkshire’s insurance subsidiaries to make large payouts, Berkshire should generate $20 billion in cash per year based on the company’s current earnings power (it is … Read the rest of this article!