Berkshire Hathaway Stock: Is Warren Buffet’s Donation a Signal To Start Selling Berkshire and Microsoft Stock?
by Mark Skousen, Chairman, Investment U
Friday, July 7, 2006: Issue #555
In a blockbuster announcement last week, Bill Gates, age 51, announced that he is gradually stepping down as chairman of Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT). At the same time, Warren Buffett, age 75 and the world’s second richest man, told us that he was donating the bulk of his Berkshire Hathaway stock (NYSE: BRK-A), valued at $37 billion, to the Gates Foundation.Should you join them by selling Berkshire Hathaway stock as well as Microsoft? First, let’s look at the latter
Microsoft Stock Suffers From Insider Selling
With profit margins exceeding 31%, quarterly revenue growth of 13%, and quarterly earnings growth of 16%, Microsoft continues to be a highly profitable company. Return on equity (ROE) exceeds an astonishing 30%. Normally, the smart investor would be tempted to buy Microsoft.
And yet, how can any Microsoft shareholder expect to see higher stock prices in the face of such massive selling by Bill Gates, the Gates Foundation and other company officers? Not surprisingly, the stock has floundered and underperformed the S&P 500 Index the past two years.
What Does the Future Hold for Berkshire Hathaway Stock?
Warren Buffett’s conglomerate has done better with investors lately. It has a strong profit margin of 10.9%, revenue growth of 29% and earnings growth of 69%. Berkshire is a cash machine, and right now Buffett’s investment company is sitting on $42 billion in cash. Yet, despite its good fortune, Berkshire Hathaway stock has also underperformed the market index the past two years.
And now that Warren Buffett is going to be selling his stock (by converting his A shares into B shares) to fund the Gates Foundation, I seriously doubt that investors will see much advance in the stock on Wall Street. In fact, there’s already been a huge amount of selling by insiders at Berkshire Hathaway over the past few years.
The following chart shows the recent performance record of Microsoft and Berkshire Hathaway both stocks lagging behind the S&P 500 since September 2004:
Conclusion: Earnings up, stock down!
As the graph shows, Microsoft has been the worst performer so far, despite its outstanding financial condition. The stock has declined from $28 to $23. Part of it is due to its postponement of a new business software package; part is due to heavy insider selling. Remember a cardinal rule of investing: The market is always forward looking, and its judgment is based on the future, not past performance. Right now, investors are not happy with the performance of Microsoft.
Could Berkshire Hathaway stock be going the same way?
Today’s Investment U Crib Sheet
- From 1990 to 2000, early investors in Microsoft made more than 50,000% Now investors are searching for the best way to profit in the newest trend in alternative fuel: ethanol. Get a breakdown of the opportunities in ethanol by reading the Investment U Research Team’s free report, Investing in Ethanol: A “New” Stock Play on Soaring Energy Prices and Why Now is the Time to Invest in this “Fuel of the Future.”