Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-B) hit the headlines yesterday on news that it had made a big buy in shares of Japanese trading companies.
To me that looks like a typical Buffett value play on commodities and international trade at a time when the market in general has eyes only for technology shares. (An indication of how out of favor this play is: Berkshire-B fell 0.51% yesterday. Global investors have pulled $43 billion from Japanes stocks this year in favor of investments in U.S. technology high-flyers.)
Buffett bought a 5% stake in five Japanese trading companies including Itochu Corporation (ITOCY), Marubeni Corporation (MARYU), Mitsubishi (MSBY), Mitsui (MITSY), and Sumitomo (SSUMF).
I don’t see these stocks as a bet on the continually moribund Japanese economy. These companies own huge stakes in the global economy with a big weighting toward commodities. And the investment continues Berkshire’s interest in commodities that included July’s $4 billion deal to purchase most of Dominion Energy’s (D) natural gas pipeline and storage assets in July. (Which isn’t to say that these companies don’t have wipe exposure to Japan’s domestic economy. They own stakes in businesses from home-shopping networks to convenience-store chains. Their shares also trade below book value and pay higher dividends than the stocks in Japan’s Topix.)
But what really intrigued me about this story–what drew my interest to a degree to lead to a buy–was the mention that Berkshire has $146 billion cash on hand and is taking in money faster than it can find places to put it since Buffett and his fellow mangers find U.S. stocks to be over-valued right now.
A buy of Berkshire at this point is a buy of one of the most astute investment teams in the world when it is sitting on a mountain of cash and is showing an inclination to put it to work in contrarian plays with longer time horizons.
If you’re looking for a way to gain patient exposure (with a lot of cash to invest) to an eventual turn in the global economy, Berkshire looks like a good bet to me.
Please note that Berkshire trades in both A and B shares. The B shares, which I’m recommending today, closed at $218.04. The A shares finished at $327,560.
I’m adding them to my Jubak Picks Portfolio with a target price of $260.