Jon D. Markman in MSN Money is clearly not a member of the Buffett cult of personality. Markman finds Buffett’s boasts about his due diligence process as ringing hollow given the earnings performance of Berkshire stock.
So it should really come as no surprise that earnings were down at Berkshire this year. You would expect no different from an operation that appears to obtain no synergies by stitching together a hodgepodge of companies other than to have a chance to brag about what nice people it has brought into its corporate family, and to use their cash flow to make high-rolling gambles — wrongly, as it turns out — on the direction of the U.S. dollar.
In response Markman has found a couple of alternatives for investors. Both Leucadia National (LUK) and Brookfield Asset Management (BAM) seem more likely to outperform Berkshire Hathaway stock going forward.
The Confused Capitalist also notes the waning outperformance of Berkshire Hathaway over time. While also noting Buffett’s recent tendency to invest far afield, he is not as pessimistic about Berkshire’s future.
Nevertheless, Mr. Buffett has a remarkable record of outperformance, and that outperformance – albeit by a diminishing margin – may very well stay intact for many years into the future.
It seems that Buffett’s fame is inversely correlated with the performance of Berkshire the company, and the stock. Frankly we have no idea whether Berkshire will outperform the market going forward. However we agree with Markman that investors might be better served looking for the next Buffett rather than waiting for the performance of Berkshire to bounce back.