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Investing with the Wizard of Omaha

Chris Farrell Jul 22, 2009

Question: I’d like to buy Warrren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway shares. I understand that there 2 kinds brk-a and brk-b. The b-share costs about 1/30 of an a-share but it isn’t not convertible to a-shares. My friend advises me to buy a-share but cannot give me a reason. Is b-share really inferior to a-share other than the cost? Please help me. Chris, St. Paul MN

Answer: Billionaire Warren Buffett, the Wizard of Omaha, is perhaps the greatest stock picker of all time. He runs Berkshire Hathaway, a holding company with more than 70 businesses. The price difference between the two kinds of stock is astounding when translated into dollars and cents. As I am writing this an A-shares is worth $92,000 and a B-share $3001.50.

I can’t say whether you should prefer Class A to Class B, but the key difference between the two classes of stock has to do with ownership rights.Class A shareholders have the full voting rights of stock ownership. A Class B shareholder gets 1/200th the voting rights of a Class A share. In essence, Class B shareholders have a stake in how well Buffett does as stock picker and chief executive, but they’re largely disenfranchised as owners. For instance, if someone made a takeover offer for Berkshire the Class A shareholders get to decide whether the deal goes through or not. The Class B shareholders are along for the ride. Question is, does that matter to you?

The Wizard of Omaha describes the difference between the two shares here.

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