I was recently chatting with sandesh and he asked me a question – Why don’t you invest in US based companies? Is it due to the fact that you consider them outside your circle of competence or some other reason ?
My response was – As an indian resident, I cannot invest out of india and that is the main reason for not looking at US companies.
So much for due diligence ! It seems one can invest abroad through ICICI direct and this facility has been available for some time. I do not know if there are some restrictions on the type of stocks one can buy and so would appreciate if some one can leave a comment on it.
I have been following a few companies in the US, mainly out of curiosity and as a learning experience. The one company I would like to own is Berkshire hathaway. This company is run by warren buffett and as most of the readers of this blog would know, I am a Buffett fan.
Warren buffett has been the chairman and CEO of this company since 1967 or 68 (don’t have the exact date). The company stock price and intrsinic value has grown by 20%+ since he took over the management of the company (you do the math of what 1000$ invested then would be worth now after almost 40 years of compounding at 20%+ per annum).
The core business of the company is insurance. In addition Buffett has invested capital by accquiring a collection of good companies or by investing in stocks. The company is a major shareholder in companies such as Cocacola, Amex, washington post etc and a 100% owner of companies such as See’s candies, DQ, GIECO etc.
It is diffcult to analyse the company in a short post and I will do a detailed post later if I can confirm that an Indian investor can invest in this company. However irrespective of the outcome, I would recommend everyone to read Buffett’s letter to shareholders (download here) and analyse the company. I have read these letters multiple times and I can tell you from personal experience that these letters are the best education in economics, finance and investing.
I have analysed the company to understand the economics of an insurance business and also to see the disclosure a shareholder friendly management (Buffett is known for his shareholder orientation and ‘really’ considers them as partners).
I am uploading the valuation of the company (BRK valuation.xls) in google groups (see here). The company is undervalued from my perspective. I would encourage you to download the annual report and read through it. It is a big report and takes effort to understand it, but it is worth it.
Caution: The company is undervalued, but the stock is not cheap. The ‘A’ stock is worth around 100000 usd (50 lacs per share) and the ‘B’ stock (which is 1/30 of A stock) is worth around 3200 usd (1.6-1.7 lacs per share). The reason for this high price is that buffett has not split the stock for the last 40 years (read the owners manual in the Annual report for the reason).