Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A -0.1%)(BRK.B -0.36%) is a holding company run by investing legend Warren Buffett. He took control of the former textile manufacturer in 1965 and transformed it into one of the largest companies in the world. It serves as his investment arm. Buffett uses the cash flows generated by Berkshire's operating businesses and investments to acquire other companies and make new investments that grow shareholder value.
Berkshire Hathaway differs from other investment firms, like hedge funds. Anyone can invest in Berkshire Hathaway if they have enough money to buy at least one Class B share (less than $350 in mid-2023).
For comparison, hedge funds are open only to accredited investors, meaning those with high incomes or net worths and who can meet the fund's minimum investment, which can be $1 million or more. Berkshire Hathaway also doesn't charge exorbitant fees to its investors since it sees them as partners, not clients.
That has outperformed the S&P 500 by almost 2 to 1 (the S&P 500 has produced a 9.9% compound annual return during that period). Here's a step-by-step guide on buying Berkshire Hathaway shares and some factors to consider before investing in the company.
How to buy
How to buy Berkshire Hathaway stock
To buy shares of Berkshire Hathaway, you must have a brokerage account. If you still need to open one, here are some of the best-rated brokers and trading platforms and a step-by-step guide to buying Berkshire Hathaway stock using Fidelity's five-star-rated platform.Fidelity makes it easy to buy stocks. Its website offers a video tutorial and a step-by-step guide. Here's a screenshot of how to place a stock trade with Fidelity:
- The number of shares you want to buy or the amount you want to invest to purchase fractional shares.
- The ticker symbol (BRK.B for Berkshire Hathaway).
- Whether you want to place a limit order or a market order, The Motley Fool recommends using a market order, as it guarantees you buy shares immediately at the market price right that moment.
Should I invest?
Should I invest in Berkshire Hathaway?Before buying shares of Berkshire Hathaway, you need to determine whether you want to invest directly in the company. First, let's review a summary of the company's business model.
Buffett and his investing partner, Charlie Munger, use the money Berkshire's businesses earn for its shareholders and reinvest it in:
- Businesses they can control by acquiring 100% ownership: Berkshire Hathaway's operating businesses include insurance, railroad, utilities and energy, manufacturing, service, and retailing. Notable brands include GEICO, BNSF, Pampered Chef, Pilot Travel Centers, Fruit of the Loom, and See's Candies.
- Buying publicly traded stocks to passively own pieces of high-quality businesses: Some of the top stocks Warren Buffett's company owned as of mid-2023 included Apple (AAPL 0.32%), Coca-Cola (KO 0.2%), American Express (AXP 0.99%), and Kraft Heinz (NYSE:KHC).
Reasons to invest in BerkshireHere are some reasons to consider purchasing the company's stock:
- You believe Berkshire Hathaway can deliver a higher return than an S&P 500 index fund.
- You like Warren Buffett's investment style and want to entrust him and his team with your money.
- You don't need to earn dividend income.
- You believe Buffett and his team can put Berkshire's retained cash flows and cash balance to work in growing shareholder value over the long term.
- You understand how Berkshire Hathaway makes money and want to follow the company.
- You realize your investment in Berkshire Hathaway could lose money and might underperform the S&P 500.
Reasons not to invest in BerkshireOn the other hand, here are some factors to consider that might make you opt not to purchase shares of Berkshire Hathaway:
- You're worried about Warren Buffett's and Charlie Munger's ages and whether their eventual successors will stick to the blueprint they have laid out for growing shareholder value.
- You're nearing or in retirement and need dividend income.
- You don't firmly believe Berkshire Hathaway can outperform the S&P 500 over the long term.
- You are a younger, more growth-oriented investor and don't like Buffett's value investing approach.
- You're too busy to follow Berkshire Hathaway and don't desire to invest directly in individual stocks.
Is Berkshire Hathaway profitable?
Profit growth helps power stock price appreciation over the longer term. That makes it a good area for beginning investors to focus on before buying shares.Berkshire Hathaway is a consistently profitable company. In 2022, the company posted a $30.8 billion operating profit. That was a 12.2% increase from 2021's total -- the highest in the company's history.
The company retains all its earnings to allocate toward growing shareholder value. It also holds a lot of cash on its balance sheet -- $128.7 billion at the end of 2022 -- that it intends to deploy when it finds compelling investment opportunities.
Does Berkshire Hathaway pay a dividend?
While Berkshire Hathaway is a very profitable company, it doesn't pay dividends to its shareholders. CEO Warren Buffett believes he and his team can create more value for shareholders by retaining that cash and allocating it toward initiatives that create shareholder value.
ETFs with exposure to Berkshire Hathaway
Instead of actively buying shares directly, you could passively invest in Berkshire Hathaway stock by investing in a fund holding its shares.
Berkshire Hathaway is among the larger publicly traded companies by market capitalization, making it a widely held stock. Berkshire is in several stock market indexes, including the S&P 500 index. As a result, index funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that benchmark their returns against those indexes hold Berkshire Hathaway stock.
According to ETF.com, 208 ETFs held a reported 125.2 million shares of Berkshire Hathaway in mid-2023. The biggest holder is the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY 0.1%), with 20 million shares.
However, the ETF with the largest allocation to Berkshire Hathaway is the iShares U.S. Financials ETF (IYF -0.2%), at 13.7% of the fund's total holdings compared to 1.6% from the SPDR S&P 500 ETF trust. That makes the iShares U.S. Financials ETF a better option for those seeking a more passive way to gain some exposure to Berkshire Hathaway without directly buying shares.
Will Berkshire Hathaway stock split?
Berkshire Hathaway has never implemented a stock split for its Class A shares (BRK.A). That's one reason those shares traded at more than $500,000 apiece in mid-2023. It will likely never split that class of its stock.However, to make its stock more accessible to more investors, in 1996, Berkshire created Class B shares (BRK.B) with a much lower price point. The company has only split that stock once. It completed a 50-for-1 split in 2010. At the time of that split, shares were trading at around $3,500.
As of mid-2023, Berkshire had not announced an upcoming stock split. With the Class B shares trading at around $350 a share at that time, it doesn't seem likely that Berkshire will split its stock anytime soon, given its historical trend.
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The bottom line on investing in Berkshire Hathaway stockAn investment in Berkshire Hathaway is one in Warren Buffett and his team. It's a wager that they can allocate the cash flows produced by Berkshire Hathaway's operating businesses and investments to create more value for shareholders.
FAQs on investing in Berkshire Hathaway stock
Can I buy stock in Berkshire Hathaway?
How do I buy Berkshire Hathaway stock directly?
To buy shares of Berkshire Hathaway, you must:
- Open a brokerage account.
- Fund your account.
- Open the order page.
- Fill out the order page, including selecting the right ticker (BRK.B for Berkshire Hathaway), the number of shares you want to purchase, and whether it's a market or limit order.
- Submit the purchase order.