Thursday, October 25, 2007

Warren Buffett and the Chocolate Wars

As a follow-up to "SEC Pressed on Climate-Change Disclosures and When will Warren Buffett get on Board the Love Train?* " in which we said:
"What the heck are we going to do with Warren Buffett?

Nowhere in the Berkshire Hathaway annual report is there any discussion of how global warming will affect See's Candies!

Sure, the man, through Berkshire Hathaway runs some insurance stuff** and some other businesses*** but certain high-quality analysts go straight to the See's results (ho-hum) or the stores (Ho-Ho-Ho) and care more about Ghanaian cocoa than winding down some silly-assed derivatives book you didn't want in the first place.

If you search the BRK 2006 annual report, you won't find the term "global warming". Nor do you find "climate change". Using the keyword "climate" gets you:...

...One of the signatories on the petition sent to the SEC is Calpers, the inconceivably large retirement fund/medium-sized country. They own 6,983 of Berkshire's "A" shares.****
I'm sure they want to know: "What's Buffet hiding, re: Global Warming risk to See's?"
(besides melting and/or bloom)
We have this from Portfolio:
Warren Buffett gets stirred up; candymakers battle. A proposal to redefine chocolate is roiling the nation’s $16.3 billion industry.
Don’t mess with Warren Buffett’s chocolate.

Improbably, the Oracle of Omaha, who might not be blamed if he said he had more important things to do, finds himself enmeshed in one of the odder food fights of late—

... Buffett’s interest is certainly pecuniary. His holding company, Berkshire Hathaway, got into the chocolate business when it bought See’s, an old-line San Francisco Bay Area chocolate maker, for $25 million in 1972. Given that See’s sales, these days more than $300 million annually, depend largely on the company’s reputation for quality, there are no plans to mess with any formulas, Buffett says. “If you’ve got recipes that people like, you don’t change them.”...

Mr. Buffet, we here at Climateer Investing applaud your principled stand and want you to know that not only was the catalogue received and the order placed, we are in receipt of See's best.

Further, if the marketing people had played coy, we would have joined the other addicts in stockpiling a lifetime supply a la Coke Classic vs. New Coke. I understand that sometimes you slough a trick to win the game.