Part of the reason I chose to open my IRA at ShareBuilder was that there has been a stock I have been wanting to purchase but didn’t want to shell out the whole purchase price. Hence part of the appeal of ShareBuilder was that you could buy dollar amounts of many stocks including Berkshire Hathaway. For those of you not familiar with this stock, it is probably best to begin with a history lesson.

History Lesson
Warren Buffet is one of the more famous investors. In February, Forbes magazine listed him as one of the world’s richest people with a fortune around $62 billion. He is known for his value investing and finding great companies, as well as being frugal (he lives in the same house he has lived in since the 1950s, despite his increase in wealth). He was an entrepreneur at a young age, and consistently looked for opportunity. He is known for his sense of humor, and one of the things I like best about him is that he worked his way into his role and values quality and hard work. I really respect him and admire. Berkshire Hathaway is the company is founded and is now CEO and majority shareholder. You can find out more about him via wikipedia here.

Picking a Stock
So obviously I am a Warren Buffet fan. Part of the reason I like him so much is that he truly tries to find great companies and real value in stocks. He believes that you pick companies for the long term–great companies that will grow shareholder value over time (I am currently Built to Last which talks about characteristics some of these types of companies). His company, Berkshire Hathaway started as a textile manufacturing company in Omaha, Nebraska; now the company deals largely in insurance and investments.

Berkshire Hathaway stock has averaged a 21% return over 42 years. (much more impressive than any index fund). The stock climbed to be the highest priced stock on the NYSE, climbing up to almost $150,000 per share (the stock has never split)! Berkshire class B stock (BRK-B) is 1/30 the amount of real Berkshire Hathaway shares and is currently trading around $3,800 or so.

So why did I want to invest my IRA in Berkshire:

  • I like the company’s values and business (and Warren Buffet of course!)
  • Since the company invests and owns shares in lots of other companies, it is kind of like a mutual fund and you get built in diversification
  • Using ShareBuilder I could essentially buy shares I wouldn’t normally consider in a normal brokerage account (since I am investing smaller dollar amounts even buying 2 whole shares of the BRK-B was a bit more than I could contribute to my IRA for 2008–the limit is $5,000)
  • The 21% return sounded much better than an index fund
  • And the shares have gone down a bit in the last few months, so are a bit of a “deal”

I am really happy with my choice and I am excited to own a little bit (even if it is a fractional bit) of Warren Buffet.

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