Warren Buffett Is Ready to Make More Money From Your Ketchup

Buffett expects his partners at 3G Capital to wring out cost savings while maintaining a healthy marketing budget

Jun 22, 2014 at 1:46PM

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Every year, thousands of investors flock to Omaha to hear the wisdom of Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger. For as long as six hours, with only one break for lunch, the two business legends take questions from investors, the press, and analysts. 

Appropriately for a shareholder meeting, the focus is the business of Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK-A) (NYSE:BRK-B) but it's not the only topic they discuss. This year, Buffett discussed Heinz's profitability in response to a question from financial analyst Jay Gelb.

Following are my notes on Gelb's question, along with responses from Buffett and Munger.

Berkshire's 50% ownership of Heinz is including in it results. What is Heinz's normalized earnings power after restructuring, and what will be its future earnings?

Warren: Well, Heinz will be filing its own 10-Qs. First quarter will be due about now. You'll be able to see its own figures. Heinz was a reasonably run business with a 10-15% operating margin, and that's not an unreasonable margin in the food business. I think you'll find those margins will be significantly higher in the future.

What 3G has done there is just restructured the business model, and I think the brands, which are all important, are as strong as ever and the cost structure will be significantly improved without cutting into marketing spend. You'll see the numbers for yourself soon enough.

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Brendan Mathews owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. The Motley Fool recommends Berkshire Hathaway. 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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