The recent 50-for-1 split of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway
Until 1996, Berkshire Hathaway shares only came in one expensive form. In response, Buffett created B shares in 1996, to give smaller investors a direct way to buy into Berkshire, rather than paying a fee to investment trusts that were starting to pop up at the time. B shares were worth about 1/30th of an A share.
Of course, "affordable" is in the eye of the beholder. Last year, A shares were trading for around $100,000 apiece, while B shares cost north of $3,300. Many people still felt that $3,300 was more than they could or would pay for a single share, so some opted to own Berkshire through mutual funds. The Blue Chip Investor (BCIFX) fund is one of the best examples -- it recently held about 26% of its assets in Berkshire stock.
That might seem like a great solution, but that fund barely beat the S&P 500 index over the past three and five years, while Berkshire stock beat it much more handily. Those fund investors weren't really getting a Berkshire-caliber performance in their portfolio, thanks to the diluting effect of less impressive performers in the fund's portfolio. Its other holdings recently included Wells Fargo
Things have changed
A 50-for-1 split of the B shares could change investors' minds. These shares now cost less than $80 each, which certainly makes them affordable to just about anyone. Remember, however, that price alone doesn't indicate that a stock is a great bargain. Many members of our Motley Fool CAPS community consider Apple
If you've invested in any fund solely for its Berkshire holdings, rethink that move -- it's even less of a good idea than it used to be. But if you still really believe in the fund, and you like its other holdings, don't feel like you have to sell. After all, in that case, you're simply buying a promising, professionally managed bundle of stocks.
Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Apple, First Solar, and American Express. American Express and Berkshire Hathaway are Motley Fool Inside Value selections. First Solar is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Apple and Berkshire Hathaway are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks. The Fool owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. Try any of our investing newsletter services free for 30 days. The Motley Fool is Fools writing for Fools.