Jan 132012

On August 25, 2011, Bank of America announced the sale of $5 billion of 6% Cumulative Perpetual Preferred Stock to Berkshire Hathaway.  The preferred stock is redeemable by Bank of America at any time at a 5 percent premium.

In conjunction with this agreement, Berkshire also received warrants to purchase 700,000,000 shares of Bank of America common stock at an exercise price of $7.14 per share. The warrants may be exercised in whole or in part at any time, and from time to time, during their 10-year life.

At Bank of America’s closing price of $6.87 per share on January 11, 2012, what are these warrants worth?  Although these warrants are currently “out of the money” since the underlying common shares are selling below the strike price of $7.14, they have considerable value which can be estimated using a Black-Scholes calculator.

When applying a strike price of $7.14, stock price of $6.87, time remaining of 3520 days, historical volatility of 59% (source: TD Ameritrade), and a risk free interest rate of 2% (10-year U.S. Treasury), each warrant is valued at $4.59.  Therefore, Berkshire’s 700,000,000 warrants have a total current value of approximately $3.2 billion.

Warren Buffett’s $5 billion investment in Bank of America’s 6% preferred stock is not only earning $300 million per year in dividends, but has also added $3.2 billion in shareholder value from the 700 million warrants that it has acquired.

It is interesting to note, that in The Government Employees Insurance Company’s  third quarter 2011 filing with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, this Berkshire subsidiary showed that it had acquired 229.6 million Bank of America warrants at a cost of $328.0 million, or $1.43 per warrant on September 1, 2011.  Using Bank of America’s closing price of $7.89 on September 1, each warrant would have had a value at that time of $5.52.  Therefore, it appears that Berkshire had used very conservative accounting and assigned a total value to its Bank of America warrants of $1.0 billion.

Many discussions of Berkshire’s $5 billion investment in Bank of America omit a valuation of the warrants since they are currently out of the money.   However, these warrants have added considerable value to Berkshire Hathaway.

This article has been published by Seeking Alpha and GuruFocus:



It has also been published by Business Insider and FOREXPROS:



 Posted by at 1:17 pm
Jan 102012

During 2011, Todd Combs’ portfolio of seven stocks outperformed the S&P 500.   Six of the seven stocks purchased by Todd Combs during the first nine months of 2011 finished the year higher than his purchase price, with an average gain of 15%.  By contrast, the S&P 500 was virtually unchanged in 2011.  This was Todd Combs’ first year at Berkshire Hathaway.  Data are not yet available on any additions that were made to his portfolio during the fourth quarter of 2011.

Todd Combs’ best performing stocks in 2011 were Mastercard (+40%) and Dollar General (+20%).  His other winners were CVS Caremark (+14%), Intel (+15%), Visa (+18%), and General Dynamics (+6%).  His only declining stock was DirecTV (-6%).

It is worthwhile noting that DirecTV has also been one of Ted Weschler’s largest holdings in his Peninsula Capital hedge fund over the past two years.  Ted Weschler will be joining Berkshire Hathaway early in 2012 as Warren Buffett’s second portfolio manager, in addition to Todd Combs.

I was interviewed on Bloomberg TV today where I discussed this topic.  The link to that interview is:


I was also quoted in a Bloomberg News article today on Todd Combs:


 Posted by at 3:38 pm