Friday, February 29, 2008

Berkshire Hathaway 2007 Annual Report and Warren Buffet's 2007 Letter to Shareholders (BRK.A)

The annual report and letter to shareholders are here. I'll be back in a bit.

I'm at page 8 of the annual report. Mr. Buffett is still the best writer on finance and cocoa. He mentions the Rockwood deal:
...The seeds of this transaction were planted in 1954. That fall, only three months into a new job, I was sent by my employers, Ben Graham and Jerry Newman, to a shareholders’ meeting of Rockwood Chocolate in Brooklyn. A young fellow had recently taken control of this company, a manufacturer of assorted cocoa-based items. He had then initiated a one-of-a-kind tender, offering 80 pounds of cocoa beans for each share of Rockwood stock. I described this transaction in a section of the 1988 annual report that explained arbitrage. I also told you that Jay Pritzker – the young fellow mentioned above – was the business genius behind this tax-efficient idea, the possibilities for which had escaped all the other experts who had thought about buying Rockwood, including my bosses, Ben and Jerry. [sweet -ed.]
and further mines the chocolate vein:
...Let’s look at the prototype of a dream business, our own See’s Candy. The boxed-chocolates industry in which it operates is unexciting: Per-capita consumption in the U.S. is extremely low and doesn’t grow. Many once-important brands have disappeared, and only three companies have earned more than token profits over the last forty years. Indeed, I believe that See’s, though it obtains the bulk of its revenues from only a few states, accounts for nearly half of the entire industry’s earnings.
For Climateer Investing readers the comments on the insurance operations and Mid-American Energy will provide especial insight. More to come.