Five Investing Tips From Warren Buffett

Every year Mr. Buffett, the world’s third-richest man and arguably the most successful stock-market investor in history, writes a letter to stockholders in his investment company Berkshire Hathaway. The latest came out this weekend. There are usually some nuggets for all those who haven’t invested in Berkshire, and this year’s letter was no exception. Here are five:

1. Watch out for stock-market valuations.

Mr. Buffett’s company is now sitting on a cash hoard of $38 billion. ‘That’s among the highest levels it’s ever been,’ says Stifel Nicolas analyst Meyer Shields. While Mr. Buffett says he is looking for a big acquisition, and has his ‘elephant gun loaded,’ the high cash pile also suggests he’s having a challenge finding really good deals. If Mr. Buffett is cautious, investors might want to take note: It’s another sign that many valuations on the stock market may be looking a little stretched.

2. Coke is it.

Mr. Buffett rarely makes predictions, but in the case of Coca-Cola —a long-term holding—he issues a remarkable one: Dividends will probably ‘double … within ten years,’ he writes. That would take them from last year’s $1.76 to $3.52 per share. If Coca-Cola stock didn’t move over that period, it would raise the dividend yield from 2.5% today to above 5%. Berkshire owns 8.6% of Coca-Cola stock.

3. Some of his favorite stocks are still cheap.

While the stock market overall has boomed, and it’s a battle to find cheap stocks, one thing does stand out: Many of Warren Buffett’s favorite stocks remain at, or around, the prices he paid for them. As Mr. Buffett only likes to buy stocks for a lot less than he thinks they are really worth, this suggests you can get a bargain or two—although, as always, there are no guarantees.

They include French drug maker Sanofi-Aventis. Berkshire Hathaway has accumulated about $1.8 billion worth of the stock. Sanofi’s share price has come under pressure lately as a result of its acquisition of biotech giant Genzyme. At $35, its American Depositary Receipts are now about 12% below the average price Mr. Buffett paid.

Or look at Kraft Foods. Mr. Buffett owns 97 million shares, a hefty 5.6% of the company, for which he paid an average of $33 each. Today the stock is just $32. It has been held back, in part, by the costs of the takeover of Britain’s Cadbury. But the stock yields a decent 3.7%. It is a reasonable 14 times forecast earnings, and just over 1.1 times annual revenues.

Mr. Buffett also owns 45 million shares in health-care behemoth Johnson & Johnson, a stake valued at about $2.7 billion. He paid about $61 for the stock: It’s now $60, 12 times forecast earnings, yielding 3.6%. A cheap stock.

And what about Wal-Mart Stores? It’s tumbled in recent weeks to $52. That’s just 12 times forecast earnings. And the dividend yield, 2.3%, may not be huge, but it’s the highest it’s ever been. Today’s price is just a few dollars a share more than Warren Buffett paid: Berkshire Hathaway accumulated a $2 billion stake at an average of about $48.50.

4. Berkshire stock isn’t expensive, by Mr. Buffett’s own calculations.

No one knows exactly what a share in Berkshire Hathaway is really worth. Mr. Buffett himself told investors over the weekend that if you ask him and his veteran co-manager Charlie Munger to calculate the intrinsic value of the stock, ‘you will get two different answers. Precision just isn’t possible.’

However, he says, ‘book,’ or net asset, value is his preferred ‘understated proxy for intrinsic value.’ Mr. Buffett writes, ‘To be sure, some of our businesses are worth far more than their carrying value on our books…. But since that premium seldom swings wildly from year to year, book value can serve as a reasonable device for tracking how we are doing.’

So it’s intriguing that Berkshire Hathaway stock today trades at $128,000, or just 1.3 times that book value. Stifel’s Mr. Shields says the historic average is about 1.6 times. If the ‘premium’ between book value and the intrinsic value doesn’t swing that much from year to year, one might conclude that Berkshire is looking a little cheap.

Naturally, as a big company, it has a lot less growth ahead of it. And as Mr. Buffett is 80, his years of producing spectacular investment returns are nearer the end than the beginning. Nonetheless, in a market where so many investments seem to be trading at lofty valuations, it is notable that Berkshire is below its average.

For those who wish to invest, and who don’t have $128,000 in spare cash, the economy-class ‘B’ shares trade for $85.

5. Get ready for a dividend hike at Wells Fargo

Mr. Buffett’s favorite bank, San Francisco-based Wells Fargo, has had its dividend levels held back by the Federal Reserve, along with other banks, during the financial crisis. ‘At some point, probably soon, the Fed’s restrictions will cease,’ he writes. ‘Wells Fargo can then reinstate the rational dividend policy that its owners deserve. At that time, we would expect our annual dividends from just this one security to increase by several hundreds of millions of dollars annually.’

Berkshire Hathaway owns about $11 billion worth of Wells Fargo stock. It added a small amount in the fourth quarter. At $32, Wells Fargo is just 11 times forecast earnings, and less than one and a half times book value—compared to nearly three times book value five years ago. The dividend yield under the current regime is a paltry 0.6%. Five years ago it was around 3%.

沃伦·巴菲特(Warren Buffett)
伯克希尔哈撒韦公司(Berkshire Hathaway Inc.)董事长兼首席执行长

巴菲特出生于1930年,自1965年起一直担任伯克希尔哈撒韦公司董事,自1970年起出任公司董事长兼首席执行长。他是该公司的控制人。此外,巴菲特还担任华盛顿邮报公司 (Washington Post Co.)董事。

巴菲特,全世界第三大富豪、也可以说是史上最成功的股市投资者,每年都会给他的投资公司伯克希尔•哈撒韦(Berkshire Hathaway)的股东们写一封信。最新的致股东信不久前出炉。对于所有那些没有投资伯克希尔的人来说,信中往往会蕴含一些宝贵的“投资经”,今年也不例外。以下就是五条巴菲特的投资经。

1. 留意股市估值

巴菲特的公司目前坐拥380亿美元的现金储备。Stifel Nicolas的分析师施尔德(Meyer Shields)说,这是该公司现金水平最高的时期之一。虽然巴菲特说他正在寻找一笔大规模的收购交易,而且他的“猎象枪已经上膛了”,但大量的现金储备也表明,巴菲特在寻找真正合适的交易时遇到了困难。如果巴菲特是谨慎的,那么投资者或许需要留意了:这是表明许多股票的估值可能被稍许高估的又一个迹象。

2. 没错,就是可口可乐

巴菲特很少做出预言,但对他长期持有的可口可乐(Coca-Cola),他做出了一个惊人的预言:他写道,十年之内派息可能会增加一倍。按照这个预言,可口可乐的派息额将从去年的每股1.76美元增至3.52美元。如果在此期间可口可乐的股价没有变化,派息率将从如今的2.5%升至5%以上。伯克希尔持有该公司8.6%的股权。

3. 一些他最锺爱的股票仍然很便宜

尽管股市一片繁荣,发现便宜的股票并非易事,可有一件事的确引人注意:巴菲特锺爱的股票中有许多目前的股价仍然处于、或是大致处于他当初购买时的水平。由于巴菲特只喜欢以比他认为真正所值的价钱低很多的价位来购买股票,因此这表明你也许能够做成一、两笔划算的买卖——不过,一如往常,这是无法打保票的。

这类股票包括法国制药公司赛诺菲-安万特(Sanofi-Aventis)。伯克希尔•哈撒韦已经累计握有了该公司价值约18亿美元的股票。由于收购了生物科技界巨头Genzyme,赛诺菲的股价最近承受着压力。赛诺菲美国存托凭证目前每股的价格为35美元,这要比巴菲特当初支付的平均价格低12%左右。

再看看卡夫食品(Kraft Foods)。巴菲特持有9700万股卡夫食品的股票,数量之多相当于该公司5.6%的股权,而他当初所支付的均价为每股33美元。目前该股股价仅为32美元。这在一定程度上是因为收购英国吉百利公司(Cadbury)所产生的成本使它的股价受到了抑制。但该股收益率仍达到了3.7%这一相当不错的水平。它基于收益预期的市盈率为14倍,还算过得去,而基于年收入的市盈率则刚好超过1.1倍。

巴菲特还持有4500万股医疗保健业巨头强生公司(Johnson & Johnson)的股票,这部分股票的价值大约为27亿美元。他以约61美元的股价买入该股:目前其股价为60美元,基于收益预期的市盈率为12倍,收益率为3.6%。算得上是一只便宜的股票。

沃尔玛(Wal-Mart Stores)的情况又如何呢?最近几周它的股价大幅跌至52美元。其基于收益预期的市盈率刚好为12倍。虽然2.3%的派息率也许不算太高,但这是它最高的派息率。沃尔玛目前的股价只比巴菲特曾经支付的价格高出几美元:伯克希尔以大约48.50美元的均价累计购入了20亿美元的沃尔玛股票。

4. 按巴菲特自己的计算,伯克希尔的股价并不贵

没有人准确地知道伯克希尔的每一股股票究竟值多少钱。巴菲特本人不久前对投资者说,如果你让他和他合作已久的联合管理者芒格(Charlie Munger)计算这支股票的内在价值,你会得到两个不同的答案。要想精确无误是不可能的。

但他说,帐面价值,或是净资产价值是他所青睐的内在价值的简单替代指标。巴菲特写道,毋庸置疑,我们某些业务的价值要远远超过帐面上体现出的价值……但由于这种溢价在年复一年中很少出现大幅变化,因此帐面价值可以用作一种合理的追踪工具,从中来了解我们的表现究竟如何。

如此说来,伯克希尔目前的股价128,000美元就很吸引人了,其基于帐面价值的市盈率仅为1.3倍。Stifel的施尔德说,其历史均值约为1.6倍。如果帐面价值与内在价值间的“溢价”每年的变化没有那么大,你或许可以得出结论,认为伯克希尔的股价是有点儿便宜了。

当然,作为一家大公司,将来的增长空间已是大大缩小。巴菲特也已经八十岁了,他所能取得令人惊叹的投资回报的时间已是更加接近于终点而非起点。尽管如此,在一个众多投资似乎都是以极高的估值进行交易的市场中,伯克希尔能够做到低于平均水平还是值得人们注意的。

如果你想投资伯克希尔可又拿不出128,000美元的闲钱,那么B股会便宜一些,股价为85美元。

5. 为富国银行派息大幅提高做好准备

总部位于旧金山市的富国银行(Wells Fargo)是巴菲特最喜欢的银行,同其他银行一样,金融危机期间它的派息水平也受到了美联储(Federal Reserve)的限制。巴菲特写道,将来某个时候,或许就在不久后,美联储的限制将会取消。届时富国银行就能恢复它的所有者理应享受到的合理的派息政策。那时,我们从这一支股票中获得的年度派息就有望每年增加数亿美元。

伯克希尔持有价值约110亿美元的富国银行股票。去年第四季度它对该股进行了少量增持。富国银行目前的股价为32美元,基于收益预期的市盈率仅为11倍,基于帐面价值的市盈率不到1.5倍——相比之下其五年前基于帐面价值的市盈率接近3倍。按照现行派息政策,其派息率只有微不足道的0.6%。五年前的派息率则为3%左右。

Brett Arends

http://cn.wsj.com/gb/20110314/roi073820.asp
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