Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sold two portfolio stalwarts - Berkshire Hathaway and Keppel Corp

We sold our 50 shares in Berkshire Hathaway 'B' on the 25th of January (US$82.65) and our remaining 351 shares in Keppel Corp on 27 January. While these two companies embody many positive things which we look for in a stock (good management, strong business franchise(s) etc) and should be considered portfolio stalwarts, we have eliminated both positions for different reasons.

Berkshire Hathaway - Buffett's stable of businessess are solid companies in most senses of the word, but the growth of these underlying companies are too dependent on the US economy and considering our relatively large exposure to Wells Fargo, a bank which is almost solely dependent on the US economy, we would prefer businesses which generate a bit more revenue from overseas. In addition, growth is likely to be slow for the "lumbering" holding company, where incremental additions of small companies are unlikely to add significant value to the overall stock.

Keppel Corp - The stock has seen strong investor interest given the strong flow of contracts, but it still appears likely that the company has seen peak profitability already - we do not expect future contract wins to match the 2003-2007 cycle. Having run up considerably over the past month or two, the stock does not look attractive if one looks at normalised profits, and we have thus taken profits on our holding.

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