In the investment portfolio of Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A) (NYSE:BRK.B), the massive conglomerate run by Warren Buffett, you'll find the stocks of more than 40 publicly traded companies. While there are several that look rather attractive right now, there are a few that stand out as especially good values.
A solid bank at a fire-sale valuation
Wells Fargo has underperformed the rest of the financial sector over the past few years, and for good reason. The bank's "fake accounts" and other various scandals have hurt the bank's reputation and the Federal Reserve penalty that prohibits the bank from growing remains in effect.
However, after a couple years of having a "wait-and-see" attitude on the bank, I think it's starting to look too attractive to ignore. For one thing, the bank is once again posting profitability numbers that are among the best in the business -- in the second quarter, Wells Fargo delivered a 13.3% return on equity (ROE) and a 1.31% return on assets (ROA). Asset quality remains strong, with an annualized net charge-off rate of just 0.28%. These are the types of numbers investors have historically expected from Wells Fargo, which could indicate that it's doing a good job of getting past its scandal-plagued few years.
Furthermore, Wells Fargo's issues combined with generally poor performance from the financial sector as rates fall has produced an attractive valuation. Wells Fargo currently trades for a price-to-book multiple that we haven't seen since 2011, and the stock yields an impressive 4.5% at the current price. Wells Fargo is aggressively buying back its own stock -- it's authorized to repurchase more than 11% of the outstanding shares based on its sub-$45 stock price -- and it could be time for patient investors to do the same.
The market's fears may be overblown
To say that generic drug maker Teva Pharmaceutical Industries has been beaten down lately would be a dramatic understatement. Over the past year, its stock price has plunged by 70% and it is currently trading at a 20-year low.
There are a few reasons for this: Competitive pressures have hurt Teva's profit margins on key generic drugs, and there are many outstanding lawsuits related to Teva's involvement in price inflation and opioid sales. Additionally, Teva has about $27.5 billion in long-term debt, a massive amount for a company with a market cap of under $8 billion.
However, I believe the market's fears about Teva's future are overblown. The company is still innovating -- for example, Teva just announced the release a Food and Drug Administration-approved generic EpiPen that could significantly boost revenue. And it's unlikely that Teva's actual legal liability will be enough to threaten the company's viability. At just three times expected 2019 earnings, Teva could be worth a look for patient investors with a high risk tolerance.
The ultimate "Buffett stock" is on sale
While I believe there are several bargains in Berkshire's portfolio in addition to those I've discussed here, perhaps the best bargain is the ultimate Buffett stock -- Berkshire Hathaway itself.
Thanks to frustrations surrounding Berkshire's ever-growing cash hoard, its inability to find attractive acquisitions or stocks to buy, and poor performance from some of Berkshire's biggest investments, Berkshire stock has lost about 7.5% since the beginning of July and aside from a small blip at the end of 2018, now trades at its lowest price-to-book valuation since early 2016.
In fact, Berkshire itself spent about $400 million on buybacks during the second quarter and paid an average of $201.50 per Class B share -- more than it's currently trading for. What's more, Buffett-following hedge fund manager Bill Ackman also initiated a big position in Berkshire during the quarter, specifically citing the stock's discount to its intrinsic value.
Berkshire's buyback plan says that the company can buy back shares only if both Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger agree that it's trading for a significant discount and now you can buy shares for less than the price the two men were willing to pay.