Everyone knows that Warren Buffett is one of the greatest living investors. The guy's not known as the Oracle of Omaha for nothing. But while shares of his Berkshire Hathaway holding company look relatively cheap in terms of their price multiples, ponying up the entrance fee might be a stretch: Berkshire's A shares (BRK-A) currently go for around $121,800 a pop, while the B shares (BRK-B) will set you back roughly $4,060 apiece.
The good news is that you can get more affordable access to Buffett and his collection of subsidiaries and equity holdings -- a lineup that recently included Kraft Foods (NYSE: KFT ) , United Parcel Service (NYSE: UPS ) , Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA ) , and US Bancorp (NYSE: USB ) -- for smaller sums. How so? Via mutual funds that hold Berkshire shares in their portfolios.
Ariel Focus (ARFFX), for example, recently had roughly 7% of its assets plunked down on Berkshire B shares. The fund rounds out its portfolio with the likes of Tyco (NYSE: TYC ) and Black & Decker. Oak Value (OAKVX), meanwhile, runs with a Berkshire holding that weighs in at more than 9% of assets and, if you invest via an IRA, has a $1,000 minimum. Buy shares of this puppy, and in addition to Berkshire, you'll be investing in a portfolio that recently held United Technologies (NYSE: UTX ) and Harley-Davidson (NYSE: HOG ) .
If those funds don't provide quite enough Buffett for you, don't worry: In Motley Fool Champion Funds, we've recommended a fund that packs over 18% of its assets into Berkshire Hathaway. And this fund, too, can be had (via an IRA) for a mere $1,000.
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Fund your future
In the meantime, add "access" to the list of winning traits that make investing in a world-class portfolio of mutual funds a great way to begin -- and continue -- your career as an investor. In addition to the likes of Berkshire, funds also open the door to areas of the market that might lie outside your circle of investing competence.
If you're looking to dial up your exposure to, say, equities plucked from the world's developing economies, or even industries in your own backyard that you may not fully understand -- biotech and nanotech come to mind -- terrific funds led by stock pickers who do understand them can be had, provided you know where (and how) to look.
Funds with high expense ratios and rookie managers should be avoided, for example, as should most funds that pack tons of assets into narrow areas of the market. Quick and easy diversification is another built-in advantage of well-chosen mutual funds.
With its recommendations outperforming the market by an average of 35% to 16%, Champion Funds is a great place to start your search. You can get all of its recommendations with a no-obligation, 30-day free trial. Here's more info.
This is adapted from a Shannon Zimmerman article originally published on Aug. 15, 2006. It has been updated.
Rex Moore is an analyst with Motley Fool Stock Advisor. At the time of publication, he owned shares of Berkshire Hathaway, as does The Motley Fool. Berkshire is a Motley Fool Inside Value and Stock Advisor recommendation. Tyco is also an Inside Value pick. Kraft, United Parcel Service, and US Bancorp are Income Investor choices. You can check out the Fool's strict disclosure policy by clicking right here.