Warren Buffett’s Latest $700 Million Home Run

As DirecTV's largest shareholder, Berkshire Hathaway is about to get a pretty nice payday

May 20, 2014 at 7:00AM

Since the news first leaked on April 30 about AT&T's (NYSE:T) negotiations to buy DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV), shares have risen by about 10%. As of Sunday, May 18, the news is official, and DirecTV will indeed be bought out for $48.5 billion plus the assumption of DirecTV's debt.

All of DirecTV's shareholders stand to make a nice profit on this deal, including the Oracle of Omaha himself. Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK-B)(NYSE:BRK-A) is DirecTV's largest shareholder with about 34.5 million shares and should see a profit of about $700 million if the deal closes as planned.


Photo: Mark Hirschey

The deal
Under the terms of the deal, DirecTV's shareholders will receive about $95 per share, with $28.50 in cash and the rest in AT&T stock. The deal is expected to close in about a year, provided it receives regulatory approval.

Berkshire's AT&T stake
As of the most recent quarterly filing, Berkshire Hathaway owned 34,514,700 shares of DirecTV, which represents just under 7% of the outstanding shares.

Remarkably, Berkshire paid an average of less than $43 per share for most of its DirecTV stake, so a $95 purchase price would represent a gain of more than 120% on the 20.3 million shares the company first bought in during the second half of 2011. Not a bad gain for a three-year investment.

Before the talks were publicly known, DirecTV traded for around $75, so just on the official news, Berkshire's stake is worth about $350 million more as of this writing. If the deal goes through as planned and Berkshire receives $95 per share, it would mean almost $700 million profit since news of the sale broke.

Now what?
So, for its 34.5 million shares, Berkshire will receive just under $1 billion in cash, plus about 63 million shares of AT&T, depending on its share price when the transaction closes. Berkshire will then need to decide whether it wants to be an investor in AT&T, or cash out and use its profits elsewhere.

However, Berkshire's two investment managers responsible for the DirecTV investment in the first place, Todd Combs and Ted Weschler, issued a statement saying the deal was a winner for everyone involved. This includes AT&T; and the statement specified their belief that the combining of both companies will add value for AT&T's shareholders as well as DirecTV's. Is this their way of saying they plan to keep the shares? We'll have to wait and see.

The wide moat wins again
Buffett calls this type of companies "wide moats" meaning they have a durable and unique competitive advantage that will allow them to withstand the test of time better than their competitors. These companies also make excellent takeover targets, and for similar reasons to why Buffett likes them so much.

In AT&T's case, DirecTV is a logical acquisition because it represents the best company in an area of the communications industry AT&T is striving to become competitive in. As long as Berkshire continues to identify and capitalize on these types of companies, there will be many more paydays like this in the years and decades to come.

Is this Warren Buffett's next home run?
Imagine a company that rents a very specific and valuable piece of machinery for $41,000... per hour (that's almost as much as the average American makes in a year!). And Warren Buffett is so confident in this company's can't-live-without-it business model, he just loaded up on 8.8 million shares. An exclusive, brand-new Motley Fool report details this company that already has over 50% market share. Just click HERE to discover more about this industry-leading stock... and join Buffett in his quest for a veritable landslide of profits!

Matthew Frankel has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Berkshire Hathaway and DirecTV. The Motley Fool owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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