Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-B ) (NYSE: BRK-A ) shareholder letter is out -- and with 83 years and $58 billion of net worth under his belt, the Oracle of Omaha doesn't mince words. Here are the seven snarkiest statements from his latest letter.
1. "With Heinz, Berkshire now owns 8 1/2 companies that, were they standalone businesses, would be in the Fortune 500. Only 491 1/2to go."
It's hard not to think big when thinking of Berkshire Hathaway. Class A shares currently clock in at $183,000 each, and the company's collective market cap hits $361 billion. While that scale means Buffett can't make small strategic acquisitions to boost his bottom line, it means his company has plenty of purchasing power.
2. "As I've long told you, Berkshire's intrinsic value far exceeds its book value."
Oh, snap. Buffett doesn't brag much -- or at all. But to the Oracle, his company's intrinsic value is simply much stronger than its book value. It's why he authorized share buybacks when Berkshire Hathaway stock hit 120% of book value in 2012 -- and it's why he'll "be aggressive" if it happens again.
3. "You can do yourself a favor by calling 1-800-847-7536 or checking Geico.com to see if you, too, can cut your insurance costs. Buy some of Berkshire's other products with the savings."
Only Buffett could turn a shareholder letter into an insurance advertisement. But his cited reasons for Berkshire-owned Geico's success -- low prices and reliable service -- mean his mention isn't an advertisement: It's a favor. Buffett isn't known for his irrationality, so why not take him up on yet another way to make more money?
4. "The advantage of being bisexual is that it doubles your chances for a date on Saturday night."
OK, so technically Woody Allen said it first, but Buffett used the quote to make an important point: Berkshire Hathaway isn't picky about owning its investments. While some companies stubbornly hold out for companies they can completely acquire, Berkshire Hathaway is happy to take a back seat. As Buffett states, his indiscretion "doubles [our] chances of finding sensible uses for [our] endless gusher of cash."
5. "[I]t takes more than a new store to move the needle on Berkshire's $225 billion equity base."
Berkshire Hathaway is bigger and stronger than ever before. And while that's great news for investors, it also means no one's going to break out the balloons for a subsidiary's new store.
Yet the Oracle spends almost an entire page of his 23-page letter describing the new Texas location for his Nebraska Furniture Mart (and the furniture company's ineffable first owner, "Ms. B."). Buffett bought the company in 1983 without any audits or investment bankers -- and he expects this new store to rake in at least $450 million in sales annually. Take that, bottom-liners.
6. "Like Noah, who foresaw early on the need for dependable transportation, we know it's our job to plan ahead."
No, he didn't say it outright, but there's no denying that Buffett is comparing himself to a biblical character who literally saved the world (and, incidentally, lived to be 950 years old).
But perhaps more importantly, Buffett is comparing rail infrastructure to the ark that carried humanity to safety. That's a big statement, but Berkshire Hathaway's big investment in BNSF Railway means Buffett's not bluffing. The company spent $4 billion on rail in 2013 and "will spend considerably more in 2014."
7. "Though we invest abroad as well, the mother lode of opportunity resides in America."
Take that, emerging economies. Berkshire Hathaway's subsidiaries spent $11 billion on plants and equipment last year, and 89% of that money was spent in the U.S. of A. While shorter-term investors scramble to enter and exit China, India, and other up-and-coming countries as the wind shifts in their favor, Buffett is sticking to the States.
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