Friday, August 26, 2011

Jobs Retires. Market Yawns. What about Buffett?

Not long ago, I was talking to a fellow investor about my growing position in Apple.
He told me he felt he waited too long to buy in.
His strategy was to wait until the iconic CEO Steve Jobs steps down, and buy on the pullback. He was sure it would be large.
Then Jobs retired. And the market yawned.
The stock closed down .65%. On the same day, the S&P lost 1.5%.
Since then, Apple is up almost 2%.
So, what can we take from this as investors?
The best leaders surround themselves with top talent. They lead with vision, but it's a vision shared by many others.
Jobs was far from the only great visionary at Apple. I think investors know that. And I think Apple devotees know it, too.
I have great faith that Apple will continue innovating, and that it will continue grabbing up market share with so many of its products.

That investor whose plan it was to buy upon Jobs' retirement had the same plan for Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B).
Berskshire has been beaten down something terrible lately, and it's selling at very attractive prices.
But maybe part of what's depressing that price is the Buffett retirement overhang as he and Charlie Munger advance in their 80s.
Investors' confidence in the transition of power at Berkshire doesn't seem to be as strong as it was in Apple.
Part of that may have to do with the David Sokol/Lubrizol fiasco.
That at least temporarily damaged confidence in Buffett's ability to choose the best lieutenants, and it came at a time when assurance of a good transition of power seems most important to investors.

Buffett has always been quiet about the company's fate after he leaves Berkshire. But we'd be foolish to believe that he is not planning for it.
Berkshire's next leader won't be "the next Buffett."
But Tim Cook is not "the next Steve Jobs," either. Yet, Apple will march on undeterred.
I expect Berkshire to do the same. And since it's now selling at just about book value -- historic lows -- there may be no better time than to reflect on the Apple story and buy a piece of post-Buffett Berkshire now.

My portfolio down 10.1% on year. See it here.

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