Intrinsic Business Value
As much as Charlie and I talk about intrinsic business value, we cannot tell you precisely what that number
is for Berkshire shares (or, for that matter, any other stock). In our 2010 annual report, however, we laid out the three elements – one of which was qualitative – that we believe are the keys to a sensible estimate of Berkshire’s intrinsic value. That discussion is reproduced in full on pages 104-105.
Here is an update of the two quantitative factors: In 2012 our per-share investments increased 15.7% to
$113,786, and our per-share pre-tax earnings from businesses other than insurance and investments also increased 15.7% to $8,085.
Since 1970, our per-share investments have increased at a rate of 19.4% compounded annually, and our
per-share earnings figure has grown at a 20.8% clip. It is no coincidence that the price of Berkshire stock over the 42-year period has increased at a rate very similar to that of our two measures of value. Charlie and I like to see gains in both areas, but our strong emphasis will always be on building operating earnings.