We are 10 years into a bull market, but that doesn't mean there are not good values to be found. Whether you're looking for growth or value, Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A) (NYSE:BRK.B) is a good place to find investment ideas.
An innovative furniture store
Earlier in the year, RH, formally known as Restoration Hardware, saw its stock plunge after earnings results came in below expectations. However, the fiscal second-quarter report showed revenue growth accelerating to 10% year over year. The sales increase reflects recent efforts to improve the in-store experience by opening new galleries in major cities with the integrated RH Hospitality experience.
Management believes there is an opportunity to reach $4 billion to $5 billion in revenue, as RH begins to expand overseas and shift its focus from merely selling products to selling concepts and ideas for customers. Because of the growth potential that lies ahead, management believes the stock is undervalued and has been considering share repurchases.
The investment gurus at Berkshire Hathaway clearly see a value, too. RH emerged as a new holding for Berkshire in the third quarter. The latest 13F filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission showed that Berkshire purchased 1.2 million shares last quarter, which would currently be worth $218 million. It's a tiny position, which means it probably wasn't Buffett but one of the two investment managers (Todd Combs or Ted Weschler) who bought the stock for Berkshire.
The shares currently trade for a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 14.7 times analysts' earnings estimates next year. Analysts expect RH to grow earnings by 25% per year over the next five years. The stock has already rebounded strongly from the lows earlier this year, but at the current valuation and with growth opportunities so abundant, the stock could be undervalued at current levels.
A significantly improved bank
Buffett has been a believer in the big banks. Berkshire owns large stakes in several, and its largest bank holding is Bank of America. At the end of the third quarter, Berkshire owned 927 million shares, a stake worth $32.5 billion.
Bank of America is Berkshire's second-largest holding overall, and it's easy to see why Buffett likes it. CEO Brian Moynihan has cut out $30 billion in operating costs since 2010. That allowed BofA to grow its earnings, while also returning capital to shareholders. The company returned $9.3 billion through dividends and share repurchases in the third quarter alone.
BofA has the top market share spot in U.S. deposits. In the third quarter, consumer checking accounts increased by 2.3% -- the highest growth rate in 10 years. The company is experiencing growth across all products, spanning credit card accounts, investment accounts, and institutional investment services.
These strong results have been achieved in the backdrop of a growing economy, but Moynihan has improved underwriting standards since he has been at the helm. Bank of America's return on assets was one of the lowest among the big banks in 2010, but now ranks among the best.
The stock has climbed 32% since the beginning of the year but still trades at a modest valuation for a bank. The trailing P/E is currently 12, and the forward dividend yield is 2.17%.
The top U.S. automaker is ready for the future
One of Berkshire Hathaway's more overlooked holdings is General Motors. Berkshire owned 72 million shares of the auto giant at the end of last quarter. Those shares are worth about $2.7 billion. So what's so great about GM?
The automaker has come a long way since exiting bankruptcy in 2009. Management has brought down costs in a big way while improving the company's growth potential. Operating income has more than tripled over the last five years.
What's more, GM has made significant investments in self-driving cars. The company acquired Cruise Automation in 2016 -- it's now called just Cruise -- and there are now more than 1,500 employees in Cruise's San Francisco and Seattle offices, with the majority of those in San Francisco.
SoftBank and Honda Motor have partnered with GM on autonomous vehicles. Based on the external investments made, Cruise has a valuation of $14.6 billion. With Honda, GM is working on autonomous cars "that can serve a wide variety of use cases and be manufactured at high volume for global deployment."
GM appears to be in a solid position for the future. In addition to its ongoing work on self-driving cars, the company continues to maintain its leading market share position in gas guzzlers, where consumers continue to pay premium prices for its trucks.
However, the market isn't giving GM any credit for those developments. Investors can buy the stock at an ultracheap P/E ratio of 5.8. The stock also pays a dividend yield of 4.18%.
The stock hasn't made much money for investors since GM exited bankruptcy. But with the transportation sector angling into a new technological era, the market could be severely undervaluing the potential of one of the largest automakers in the world.
Editor's note: This article has been corrected. There are more than 1,500 employees in Cruise's San Francisco and Seattle offices, with the majority of those in San Francisco.