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do better than Rich No matter what the obstacles, he just doesn t stop 9 Once again, it appears that management quality is the way to growth It should not be assumed that growth is a sure thing even if an accomplished CEO is at the helm In the case of NetJet s European expansion, the company incurred a cumulative loss of $212 million over its rst 10 years in operation starting in 1996 However, Buffett reported in 2007 that the European segment was now doing well Buffett gives credit to Richard Santulli, who appointed a new person to lead the European segment This sequence of events suggests that experienced managers are helpful in maintaining a low downside risk in times of trouble Berkshire combines nancial numbers on NetJets and FSI under one segment called Flight Services, and even then, data are available only for certain years For the two companies discussed here, Buffett proudly states, [A] common characteristic of the companies is that they are still managed by their founding entrepreneurs These men are both remarkable managers who have no nancial need to work but thrive on helping their companies grow and excel 10 For 1999, the rst year both subsidiaries operated for a full year under Berkshire, revenues were $186 billion with identi able assets of $179 billion For 2005, the latest year for which data are available, revenues were $366 billion, and identi able assets were $317 billion In six years, revenues grew at a rate of 12 percent per year and assets at a rate of 10 percent per year Because of continuing expansion, pro tability has been erratic11 Operating pro ts in 2005 were only 38 percent of yearend identi able assets The discussion in the 2006 annual report suggests that the results have improved substantially Berkshire did not present the details, but I estimate that operating pro ts were about 11 percent of the identi able assets employed From 1999 to 2007 (the last year for which earnings data are available), pretax earnings in the Flight Services segment have gone up from $225 million to $547 million, an annualized growth rate of about 12 percent NetJets also shows how a growth company s pro tability is generally tied strongly to the economy The global recession of 2008 2009 had a signi cant impact on NetJets The company produced pretax losses of $531 million for the rst nine months in 2009 Overall, NetJets is still an evolving story, but Buffett s emphasis on patience and high-quality management comes through
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Buffett Investing = Value + Growth
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High-Tech: BYD
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On September 29, 2008, Berkshire announced plans to invest $230 million for a 10 percent stake in BYD (initials for the Chinese name), a fast-growing Chinese company listed in Hong Kong The initials are now used for Build Your Dreams With 2008 revenues of $39 billion and total assets of $48 billion, BYD is one of the world s largest manufacturers of rechargeable batteries and handset components It is also a successful car manufacturer Since 2002, its revenues have grown about eight times from $500 million to the current level of $39 billion, most of the growth coming internally It is a quintessential rags-to-riches Horatio Alger story for BYD CEO Wang Chuan-fu Based on 2008 reported earnings per share, BYD s P/E ratio at the time of Berkshire s purchase was about 14, in line with other Berkshire acquisitions Furthermore, as Table 63 shows, BYD s earnings per share have been steady, if not growing consistently with revenues The debtto-total-assets ratio of 028 appears to be fairly conservative Overall, the downside risk from this investment is not high Soon after the Berkshire investment, in October 2008, the BYD stock price doubled and then moved steadily upward and doubled again over the next several months If Buffett were a pure value investor, he would have sold his stake when the price quadrupled However, during the Berkshire annual shareholders meeting on May 2, 2009, Charlie Munger made it clear that the BYD investment is for the long term You may wonder why Berkshire made a commitment to a long-term investment in a fast-growing high-tech company The answer: BYD is a global leader in two of its three businesses (rechargeable batteries and handset components), Berkshire did not pay a high price for it, and Berkshire s subsidiary MidAmerican has incentives to help BYD succeed in producing inexpensive rechargeable batteries MidAmerican s CEO David Sokol is now a nonexecutive director on the BYD board As one of the largest wind power generators in the United States, MidAmerican can become a major user of rechargeable batteries to store energy from wind power generation At a low price, the worldwide demand for rechargeable batteries is immense Combining its knowledge of rechargeable batteries and automobiles, BYD introduced a hybrid electric car in December 2008 If successful,
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