My colleague Shannon Zimmerman recently wrote an article titled "The Warren Buffett Mutual Fund." In the article, he noted that even the cheaper B shares of Buffett's company, Berkshire Hathaway
Certainly, using these funds can help you get a diversified portfolio that combines Berkshire with other big companies. I would think twice about using these funds, though, if you're drawn to them solely because of their Berkshire stakes. For one thing, if you want to be a long-term investor in Berkshire, why pay someone else to invest in it for you, while charging you anywhere from 1% to 2% (or more) of your assets each year? I do fork over such fees to outstanding fund managers to invest my money for me, but I'm hoping they'll be finding other companies, and will be using their smarts to know when to get in and out of them. For Berkshire, which I just want to buy and hold for a long time, I don't need their services.
Don't let yourself be put off by a $3,600 price tag for a single share. Remember that many mutual funds sport minimum investment amounts of $2,500 or $3,000 or more, and that you can always buy just one share of Berkshire.
The other "fund"
And here's another angle to consider: Some people think of Berkshire itself as a mutual fund! For instance, as Roy Weitz of fundalarm.com points out, Berkshire owns a vast assortment of public company stocks, worth over $60 billion at the end of 2006. If those stocks were held in a single mutual fund, the fund would be the eighth-largest actively managed fund in the country, with large holdings in Coca-Cola
Wow. It's worth pointing out, though, that Berkshire is not a mutual fund. Unlike fund managers who buy and sell frequently trying to maximize their fund's gains, Buffett holds on to many of his stocks for decades, even when lesser minds such as yours or mine think some may be worth selling. In addition, the stock portfolio isn't the most significant part of the company. Its main business is insurance, and it also owns gobs of companies outright -- such as See's Candies, Dairy Queen, GEICO, Clayton Homes, Benjamin Moore, Business Wire, Fruit of the Loom, and Acme Brick. It's mainly a collection of many companies, with extremely little turnover.
What to do
So if you're looking for a solid long-term stock investment, go ahead and consider Berkshire Hathaway. Learn more in these articles:
- The Best Blue Chip for 2007: Berkshire Hathaway
- Dueling Fools: Berkshire Hathaway
- Berkshire Hathaway Is Not for Everyone
- What Warren Buffett Can Learn from Me
Meanwhile, if you're really looking for some top-notch mutual funds that own more than just shares of Berkshire, take advantage of a free trial of our Motley Fool Champion Funds newsletter. It's where I've found some gems, myself, and its record is darn impressive so far.
Coca-Cola and Berkshire Hathaway are Inside Value selections.