Thursday 19 April 2018

The Punt: Buffett is an old dog for the hard road

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway goes from strength to strength
Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway goes from strength to strength

The Punt

THE old dog for the hard road, they say. Warren Buffett, the octogenarian head of US investment firm Berkshire Hathaway continues to show his younger rivals how it is done.

Shares in the firm he has run for the past five decades crossed the $200,000 (€149,500) each mark yesterday for the first time.

In 1984 the same "A" shares traded at $1,400 each and the stock has doubled since 2006, as Buffett steered the business through the great recession.

Topping the $200,00 a share mark will boost Buffett's own already vast wealth, he owns about a fifth of the company - which is worth €245bn.

Buffet was already the world's third richest person, so he probably won't even be upgrading his car on the back of the increase.

More importantly it is an endorsement of his long-term investment strategy, including a heavy focus on sometime fusty, long established industrial names. Berkshire Hathaway owns or has stakes in Geico car insurance, BNSF railroad and Dairy Queen ice cream, Wells Fargo bank and Coca-Cola.


Donor headache for Obama

The tax inversion issue has taken a twist that US President Barack Obama will not appreciate.

It's now being reported that he won't return campaign donations to executives, advisers and directors who have profited from offshore mergers that reduce corporate taxes using a technique he has called "unpatriotic."

Responding to a report that described connections between more than 20 Obama donors and the tax-cutting transactions, White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz said the president will keep the cash.

"We are not privy to the details and have no role in any individual company's plans," Mr Schultz said at a briefing on the affluent Martha's Vineyard, where Obama is holidaying. "But what the president is focused on is stopping the problem."

He said there isn't a double standard and that he would "understand the scepticism more if we weren't doing something to tackle the problem."

Connections to the donors are causing tensions for Obama as he urges Congress to act against the deals and prods the Treasury Department for short-term steps to curb them. The president's tough talk also may become a liability as Democrats seek corporate America's cash this year as they try to preserve their majority in the US Senate.

President Obama has been praised in some quarters for criticising his donors, but his tough talk may no longer sound as tough or convincing in Washington circles.


Jargon gets all amazeballs

Irish business executives like to think of themselves as being au fait with the latest tech jargon to impress colleagues and peers in their souped-up Powerpoint presentations. Those slide shows may be about to get an awful lot more colourful, thanks to the Oxford English Dictionary's newly approved list of acceptable technology nomenclature.

In fact, your audience may be totally, like, "amazeballs" when you "mansplain" why your accounts receivable department needs to "bro hug" your brand development folks. Somewhat gratuitous marketing initiatives may now also be referred to as "clickbait" with the OED's official sanction, while supporting campaigns will be a "second screening" affair.

Meanwhile, "geocaching" your regional activities will see you well placed to keep a few fires burning in your corporate network's "deep web". It may even qualify you as being "hyperconnected", a status all high-performing "ballers" should be striving for in this era.

As for future company communications and presentations? Simple - a few "listicles" should see you through, so long as you refrain from "humblebragging".

Watch out for the "hot mic", though, or the whole thing might end up as a viral "Gif".

"As is usually the case, the spheres of science and technology have proved fruitful sources of new vocabulary," says the official release from the Oxford English Dictionary. "So throw an air punch or have a bro hug."

You have been educated.


Irish Independent

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