Each week, Industry Focus: Financials host Jason Moser and Fool.com contributor Matt Frankel, CFP, discuss a stock that's on their radar. In this installment, Frankel discusses why he's keeping an eye on Warren Buffett-led Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK-A) (NYSE:BRK-B) ahead of Buffett's annual letter and the company's 13-F filing later this month, and Moser talks about what listeners should pay attention to when "baby Berkshire" Markel (NYSE:MKL) reports earnings.
A full transcript follows the video.
This video was recorded on Feb. 4, 2019.
Jason Moser: We got our One to Watch, taking a look at stocks on our radar here for earnings season. What's one that you're watching this week, Matt?
Matt Frankel: I'm watching Berkshire, ticker BRK-A or BRK-B, depending on how much money you want to spend on each share. There are two big events coming up within the next couple of weeks that I'm paying attention to. On the 15th of February, all hedge funds and companies with big stock portfolios like that have to disclose what they did in the fourth quarter. I have a feeling we're going to see that Berkshire was very active in the stock market in the fourth quarter. They were sitting on over $100 billion in cash in an environment that is Warren Buffett's dream environment for investing. I wouldn't be surprised if he bought himself some Christmas presents on the Christmas Eve lows there, especially things like Apple and a lot of his favorite companies that really took a dive the in the second half of the fourth quarter.
Beyond that, there's also Buffett's closely watched annual letter. That comes out about a week after that, along with Berkshire's year-end results, where we'll find out how much of their own stock they bought back, which has been a hot topic lately. And, Buffett's feelings on the market and where Berkshire might be going. Hopefully, he whittled down his cash holdings a little bit. Investors would be happy to see that. I think that's exactly what you're going to find out.
Moser: We're looking forward to that. I'm going to go, on that same wavelength there, our little baby Berkshire that we always call it, Markel, ticker MKL, earnings are coming out on Tuesday. Not a lot that goes on with this business on a quarter-to-quarter basis. It's pretty consistent. You've got the insurance business, you've got the Markel Venture side of things. They've got their investment portfolio, much like Berkshire Hathaway has. Listeners will recall that there was a little bit of an issue here. They announced there was an investigation into the reinsurance side of the business, specifically it was in regard to reserves. Looking for any clarity on that, and how it could play out on the business here for the coming year. It's a reserve issue, it doesn't sound like it's anything very pivotal to the overall company. But hey, maybe it plays out on the book value of the company in the short run, and maybe that offers investors an opportunity if there's a little dip in the stock. This has been one that we've owned for long periods of time here in a number of our services here at The Fool, and I suspect that will remain the case regardless of what they say with the earnings release. But hey, if the stock takes a dive, investors may want to take a look at it because it's still a very good business.
Jason Moser owns shares of Apple and Markel. Matthew Frankel, CFP owns shares of Apple, Berkshire Hathaway (B shares), and Markel. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple, Berkshire Hathaway (B shares), and Markel. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2020 $150 calls on Apple and short January 2020 $155 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.