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坐拥1000亿美元让沃伦·巴菲特有点犯难

2017年08月10日

这一里程碑沃伦·巴菲特可能不愿看到。

上周五,巴菲特经营了50多年的综合型集团伯克希尔-哈撒韦披露,截至今年第二季度末,该公司持有的现金几乎达到1000亿美元。

虽然这一数字凸显了这些年来巴菲特收购的企业赚钱能力惊人,但持有大笔现金同样也是个负担。伯克希尔不分红,也几乎不回购自己的股票,所以巴菲特必须为这些资金找到投资途径。

投资管理公司Wedgewood Partners的资产规模约为60亿美元,其中包括伯克希尔的股份。该公司首席投资官大卫·罗尔夫说:“让这些资金发挥作用将是一件很棒的事”,但“他愿意收入囊中的公司非常、非常少。”

在5月份的伯克希尔年度股东大会上,86岁的巴菲特提到了不断积累的现金问题,他说自己有一段时间没有“全力开展”收购了,而且不应让如此之多的资金长期闲置。伯克希尔的现金包括一些类似现金的证券,比如美国国债。

在内布拉斯加州奥马哈市的CenturyLink中心,巴菲特对聚集在此的数千名股东说:“问题在于‘我们有能力部署这笔资金吗?’我要说历史站在我们这边,但如果有人打来电话,那将更有意思。”

巴菲特一直在寻找投资对象。今年初他开始增持苹果公司的股票。随后,伯克希尔在6月份进行了两笔较小的股权投资。一笔是参股一家房地产投资信托公司,另一笔则投入了加拿大一家陷入困境的抵押贷款公司Home Capital Group。

最重要的一笔投资出现在上个月,伯克希尔的公用事业部门签订协议,将斥资约90亿美元收购德克萨斯州最大的电力公司。这笔交易面临着保罗·辛格尔创立的Elliott Management的竞购。但如能付诸实施,伯克希尔的现金储备就会出现相当幅度的下降。

然而,伯克希尔即将赚到的则要多得多。第二季度该公司实现净利润42.6亿美元,比上年同期减少15%,部分原因是保险业务出现承保损失。但其他一系列子公司,从铁路公司BNSF到众多制造企业都赚了钱。

牛市

巴菲特在寻找新投资对象时遇到的部分挑战可能来自持续了好几年的牛市。投资公司Edward Jones分析师吉姆·沙纳汉说,在股价频繁创出新高的情况下,找到有吸引力的投资确实变得更难了。现金不断增多也表明巴菲特愿意等待恰当的时机。

沙纳汉指出:“这不是警示信号。”今后几年,“他们将进行一些让人真正感兴趣的投资。”

比尔·斯米德认为,可能加快伯克希尔投资步伐的是股市回落,甚至出现熊市。斯米德创立的Smead Capital Management管理着大约22亿美元资产,其中也包括伯克希尔的股份。在过去,只要有公司或整个经济出现麻烦,巴菲特就会果断出击,以很好的价格进行投资。

斯米德说,如果出现这样的情况,“他就会处于一个绝佳位置。”(财富中文网) 

译者:Charlie

审稿:夏林

Berkshire Hathaway Inc., the conglomerate he’s run for more than five decades, reported Friday that it held just shy of $100 billion in cash at the end of the second quarter.

While that figure highlights the staggering money-making ability of the businesses he’s collected over the years, it’s also a burden. Because Berkshire doesn’t pay a dividend and rarely buys back its own stock, Buffett is on the hook to find ways to invest those funds.

“To put that money to work would be great,” said David Rolfe, chief investment officer at Wedgewood Partners, a money manager overseeing about $6 billion including Berkshire stock. But the “list of companies that he would like to own is very, very small.”

Buffett, 86, addressed the mounting cash pile at Berkshire’s annual meeting in May, saying he hadn’t put his “foot to the floor” on an acquisition for a while and shouldn’t keep so much money earning next to nothing for long periods. The war chest includes some cash-like securities, such as Treasuries.

“The question is, ‘Are we going to be able to deploy it?’” he told the thousands of shareholders gathered at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Nebraska. “I would say that history is on our side, but it’d be more fun if the phone would ring.”

Buffett has been finding a few places to invest. He built a holding in Apple Inc. through the beginning of this year. Then, in June, Berkshire made two smaller equity investments. One was a stake in a real estate investment trust and the other propped up Home Capital Group Inc., an embattled Canadian mortgage lender.

Most significantly, Berkshire’s utility arm struck a deal last month to buy Texas’s largest electric utility for about $9 billion. The transaction its being challenged by Paul Singer’s Elliott Management Corp., but completing it would make a sizable dent in the cash hoard.

Lots more is bound to pour in. Berkshire posted $4.26 billion in net income for the second quarter. The results were down 15 percent from a year earlier, partly on an underwriting loss at insurance businesses. But a number of Berkshire’s other subsidiaries -- from railroad BNSF to its collection of manufacturing businesses -- posted gains.

Bull Market

Part of Buffett’s challenge in finding new investments may be the years-long bull market. With stocks regularly setting records, it’s simply harder to find attractive deals, said Jim Shanahan, an analyst at Edward Jones. The growing cash pile is also a sign of Buffett’s willingness to wait for the right opportunities.

“It’s not a cause for alarm,” Shanahan said. Over the next few years, “they’ll make some really interesting investments.”

One thing that could accelerate Berkshire’s spending is a correction -- or even a bear market, said Bill Smead, who oversees about $2.2 billion including Berkshire shares at Smead Capital Management. In the past, Buffett has pounced when companies or the broader economy runs into trouble, making investments on favorable terms.

If that happens, said Smead, “he’s in a perfect spot.”

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