New Kindle & Paperback Editions of BRK Letters

The 2015 Kindle edition of "Berkshire Hathaway Letters to Shareholders", with all 51 letters, was just released on Amazon. Get it now for $2.99, or if you already have the Kindle version, make sure to download the new update.

Also available now is the paperback version of the 50th Anniversary book. If you didn't get ahold of the hardcover edition, checkout the paperback version for $34.99 on Amazon.

"Berkshire Hathaway Letters to Shareholders" print-on-demand version

The special 50th Anniversary edition hardcover of "Berkshire Hathaway Letters to Shareholders" finally sold out last month.

Since then, I've heard from many people who didn't get a copy. I think there's still a lot of demand for a physical version of the book because it's a much better experience for people to read, flip-through, highlight, and refer back to. However, there's not quite enough demand to do another printing.

So I'm glad to release the print-on-demand hardcover version of "Berkshire Hathaway Letters to Shareholders." The quality is excellent for a one-off printed book and I think anyone who still wants a copy (or as a great holiday gift for an investing geek) will really like it. The interior content is the same as the special edition -- the only thing different is the cover.

The book is $39.99 at Lulu and will take a few more days than "normal" to ship as the book itself is printed every time you order. So if you want a copy for Christmas, make sure to order with enough time.

(UPDATE: The paperback version of the book is now available on Amazon for $34.99)

Happy Holidays!

Max Olson
Explorist Productions

Berkshire's Best Investments + Poster Now Available

The “50 Years of Berkshire” wall print is now available for purchase online. This and the 50th Anniversary Hardcover book were available at the meeting a month ago and I’ve received lots of praise about them from other shareholders, so I’m glad to finally make them available to everyone.

In the process of doing research for the visualization, I collected a lot of data on Berkshire's financial history -- much more data than could fit in the charts on the print.

So in addition to the wall print, I hope to release a few more posts further exploring the story of how Warren Buffett transformed Berkshire over the years. Once I reformat and clean-up it up, I’ll eventually release the raw data so that others can do their own analysis. 

Berkshire Hathaway’s Best and Most Notable Investments

The following chart shows the cumulative contribution to book value* of selected investments over 50 years. This is a good yardstick for comparing how successful investments were over time. It doesn’t include insurance companies other than GEICO, as it’s too difficult to separate individual performance given available data.  



  • See’s Candy: Income for some years after 23 are estimated.
  • Buffalo News: No data available after year 23.
  • BNSF: Post-acqusition performance only (pre-2009 stock return not included).
  • Dividend income for stock holdings calculated in most cases on average shares held during year.

Some interesting tidbits:

  • One-third of Coca-Cola’s total gain to Berkshire is in dividends paid over the 27 year holding period. One-quarter of the Washington Post gains are from dividends, the remainder from realized gains in the 2014 sale/transfer.
  • With underwriting gains, GEICO has added 7,119% to book value since purchase in 1976. This means that had the rest of Berkshire’s investments returned 0% over the next 38 years, annual book value growth would still have been 12%.

* A simple example to show the calculation: ABC Corp. is purchased in year 1, adding $100 (either in net income for subs, or change in unrealized gains + dividends for investments) that year to an initial equity base of $1,000. So contribution after year 1 would be 10%. In year 2, ABC Corp. adds another $100 to a starting equity base of $1,300. Contribution for that individual year would be 100/1300 = 7.7%, but cumulative contribution would be 20%, as ABC Corp. has contributed $200 to an initial equity base of $1,000. 

This measurement puts investments on an equal footing, allowing comparison across different timeframes. It implicitly accounts for both individual return and capital allocated to the investment. What is not accounted for is excess capital reinvestment -- in other words, contribution is based on GAAP net income, not true free cash flow. 

Berkshire Hathaway 50th Anniversary Print & Book

I've been a Berkshire Hathaway fan and shareholder for more than 10 years now. So to kick off Explorist's Finance Series, I'm glad to announce the following items, both of which will be sold at this week's shareholder meeting in Omaha.

50 Years of Berkshire Hathaway (Large Print)

A detailed data visualization of Berkshire Hathaway for the 50 year period of leadership under Warren Buffett. From September 1964 to December 2014, the price of Berkshire Hathaway stock rose 18,262x, or over 21% annually. These charts detail the history and driving factors behind that growth. Most of the financial data was obtained from a full collection of Berkshire annual reports from 1965-2014.

The medium is a 36" x 18" matte print that looks just as good as wall poster as it does framed in an office.*

Data on the poster includes:

  • Line charts of: Berkshire's stock price and book value per share (the "main characters"), the S&P 500 and Consumer Price Index (the "rivals"), The Washington Post, GEICO, General Foods, Coca-Cola, Wells Fargo, and American Express (the "supporting cast").
  • Annual breakdown of contributors to BV/share growth by category: Investments, Income, Underwriting, Retail/Service, Financial, Utility/Energy, etc.
  • Snapshot of balance sheet each year as a percentage of equity, including net liabilities (leverage) and their source: insurance float, debt, deferred taxes, etc.
  • 50 year price-to-book chart including stock issuance and repurchase dates.

The poster will be available to shareholders at the meeting for a discounted price of $16. They'll also be available online a month or so after the meeting.

(* Prints are rolled & shrink-wrapped. To unroll safely for display, see this answer on Quora.

Berkshire Hathaway Letters to Shareholders (Limited 50th Anniversary Edition)

This book is an update of the previous editions of the "Letters to Shareholders" book. It includes the most recent letter, giving the book 50 letters and 769 pages in total. 

The version sold at the meeting is a limited "50th Anniversary" hardcover edition. The cover is a dust-jacket-less midnight black with gold embossing. It looks quite good on a bookshelf. There will only be 1,000 copies printed due to the hardcover cost and limited demand, and as such each copy will be about 2x the price of the original.

At the meeting, the discounted shareholder price will be $37.33. Any copies not sold at the meeting will be sold online (from this site) for $49.

After both this and the 2013 editions sells out, later this year Explorist will release a print-on-demand version (paperback, slightly lower quality paper, more time to deliver) that anyone will be able to purchase from then on. As always, the Kindle edition of the book is also available for $2.99, updated annually.*

* Update (November, 2015): The limited hardcover edition is currently sold out. See here for the print-to-order hardcover edition.

Max Olson
Head Storyteller
Explorist Productions