Q1 valuation

Just a quick update to my valuation exercise.
As usual, it’s a bit conservative because I track the value of the large stock positions
based on their progress in earning power value, not market value.
In effect, I use the lower of market value and a multiple of earnings.
Since Apple is priced by the market at a multiple higher than the one I use as a cap, it gets a haircut at March 31.
Apple accounts for 78% of my haircut figure; Coke and Moody’s account for a further 14%.

So, how is the value metric doing?
Good news and less good news, I suppose.

The good news:
Increase in value per share in the last four quarters was a sprightly inflation + 12.6%.
That’s not just pandemic rebound; the three year rate of change is inflation + 10.8%/year compounded, also fine.
Since inflation was high, these are excellent results.
(indeed, inflation was so high that I did an inflation adjustment on each quarter’s operating results separately then added up the adjusted figures)

The less impressive news:
I estimate value up in Q1 by inflation + 1.0% since the year end figures.
Nice, but not at all impressive.

Based on historically typical relationships between my valuation figures and subsequent market prices,
my sundry models expect a market price increase in the next year in the range of maybe inflation+5.9%. Range 3.7% to 9.1%.
The range is fairly wide, partly because some of my models use book value without the equity portfolio haircut.
I have little idea what inflation will be, but if it comes out at 4%, that equates to a one year nominal price target of about $533550 ($355.70 per B).
The actual result will be different, but the idea is that it’s a 50/50 shot whether my expected figure will be too high or too low.

An entirely different way to look at it:
My “steady things” operating earnings figures–after tax on rails, utilities, MS&R and cyclically adjusted underwriting–amounts to about $15813/share.
I estimate look through equity earnings (excluding dividends paid) at a hair over $11000/share.
Dividend and interest income after tax is somewhat over 4000/share. (I used 21% tax, which is too high).
That comes in close to $31000/share, which puts Berkshire’s the current P/E ratio at 15.7.
I don’t usually look at it that way, so it’s not particularly accurate, but it gives an idea of valuation levels right now.
What do you get for that?
I generally expect a value per share increase in the range of inflation plus 7-8%/year and see anything better as a one-off bonus.
For most starting dates 5-25 years ago and ending now, my value metric has risen inflation + 8-10%/year.



Thank you for that. It’s much appreciated.

Will be interesting to see how much cash Berkshire has a year from now and the effect on owner earnings. He (Mr Buffett) may well be early deploying the dry powder. If markets keep going down, seems a good chance he will invest another $50 Billion plus free cash flow which is also large.

Big moves in Q1. Starting to get opportunities and doesn’t like cash.

He was early in 2007.
He was concerned about the pandemic from a risk management perspective in 2020.

Equities beginning to make more sense over cash. Especially oil.

Although he is super conservative and avoiding going broke is less likely with $100 Billion in cash. Who knows. As he has said before you won’t like it when we use the cash so there are pros and cons.


“Apple accounts for 78% of my haircut figure; Coke and Moody’s account for a further 14%.”

Buffett seems to have bought more Apple stock recently. Do you think the haircut of Apple is appropriate?

Yes on the apple purchase. He wouldn’t compromise his valuation principle even considering it was a relatively small add

Although he is super conservative and avoiding going broke is less likely with $100 Billion in cash.

I’m not worried about the cash position going down a bit. Even if they burnt through all of the cash, which they won’t, there is a lot of capacity. They own big and liquid equities and valuable businesses with significant operating earnings.

It is always possible that, in retrospect, they could have done better by holding onto cash a bit longer. Perhaps the recent $40B spent will prove too early. But it seems like a reasonable time to deploy. I have to imagine inflation is having a reasonable effect on the decision-making. Not as cheap to hold cash. Couple that with an equities pullback and there you go.