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Investor Beat, Feb. 25, 2014

By Chris Hill – Feb 25, 2014 at 8:12PM

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The top business stories from Tuesday's market, for today's Foolish investor.

Shares of Home Depot are up 4% today after the company reported a very solid overall earnings report. Q4 profits were up 7%, same-store sales rose 4.5%, and the company was able to raise its dividend. So why are some in the media calling the report a mixed bag?

In the lead segment from Tuesday's Investor Beat, host Chris Hill and Motley Fool analyst Mike Olsen look through the report. Mike also looks more broadly at some of the macro factors acting as tailwinds for Home Depot, as an improving economy and rising home prices are encouraging homeowners to spend more on home improvement, and he highlights the company's incredible supply chain and its ability to translate those supply efficiencies into very low costs for consumers. And with CEO Frank Blake putting a lot of effort into cutting costs within the company, any increases in sales are able to flow right to the bottom line.

Then, shares of Macy's hit an all-time high today, after announcing that its Q4 profits were up 11%, although the company missed expectations on sales, something management attributed to the extreme winter weather causing some store closures. Chris and Mike discuss the earnings report, and whether companies citing winter weather as a difficulty this quarter should be given a pass, as the market seems to have today for Macy's. Mike then discusses the department-store space as a whole, and says that while there is much to applaud Macy's for in its approach to the business, the business itself is extremely competitive and cutthroat, and demonstrating a real competitive advantage here can be very difficult.

And finally, the guys look at three criticisms that have recently been levied against Berkshire Hathaway, ahead of its upcoming earnings report. The first is that the stock has become too big to invest in, the second is that the company will someday be Buffettless, and the third is that with Buffett himself having come out and said that he will never buy back shares of the company for any more than 1.2 times book value, with shares currently trading at 1.4 times book, why should investors buy when even Buffett himself considers 1.4 to be too expensive?

As a shareholder himself, Mike looks at these three ideas and discusses why he disagrees that each would be a cause for concern.

Chris Hill has no position in any stocks mentioned. Michael Olsen, CFA, owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. The Motley Fool recommends Berkshire Hathaway and Home Depot and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. We Fools don't 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.

Stocks Mentioned

Berkshire Hathaway Stock Quote
Berkshire Hathaway
BRK.A
$477,402.98 (0.07%) $317.98
Berkshire Hathaway Stock Quote
Berkshire Hathaway
BRK.B
$316.15 (0.10%) $0.31
Macy's Stock Quote
Macy's
M
$23.46 (1.21%) $0.28
Home Depot Stock Quote
Home Depot
HD
$327.99 (0.28%) $0.92

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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