I'm a longtime fan of Berkshire Hathaway's
For example, people often refer to the company as being just like a mutual fund. That's not quite reasonable. It's true that the company does hold stock in many other companies, such as Coca-Cola
The ETF comparison
At seekingalpha.com recently, I ran across a new thought about Berkshire -- that it's similar to a particular exchange-traded fund (ETF). Gary Gordon drew some similarities between Berkshire and the ELEMENTS Morningstar Wide Moat Focus ETN (WMW). Both, for example, look for companies with wide moats, defending them against competition. The ETF, for instance, owns shares of Amgen
He rightly pointed out several reasons why it's silly to opt for the ETF over Berkshire, such as the fact that the ETF charges 0.75% per year in fees, while there's no fee to own a stock like Berkshire. I'd be hard-pressed to argue with that, as would my colleague Joe Magyer, who recently wrote about the stock that's right to own.
Still, I think that it's worth considering ETFs such as the Wide Moat Focus. As Buffett has pointed out, his public stock holdings are not contributing the kind of growing value that his subsidiaries are. Also, most of his stock holdings represent relatively small pieces of Berkshire's assets, with many making up less than 1% at the end of fiscal 2007. If you want an investment focused on a handful of high-quality, wide-moat companies, the ETF is worth a look.
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Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian owns shares of Coca-Cola and eBay. Pfizer is a Motley Fool Income Investor selection. US Bancorp is a Motley Fool Income Investor selection. Coca-Cola is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. eBay is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. Try our investing newsletters free for 30 days. The Motley Fool is Fools writing for Fools.