Author Topic: Intrinsic Value of GEICO  (Read 4725 times)

John Hjorth

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Re: Intrinsic Value of GIECO
« Reply #10 on: May 25, 2019, 01:07:33 PM »
coc,

Somebody has to call you out, - I'm hereby by doing it.

There is something called "Minimum regulatory capital requirements" for US insurance companies. It's explained in the Berkshire 10-Qs & 10-Ks. I'm not going to spend time on explaining it to you here.

Furthermore - in short - if you, as the CFO of the parent [in this case, Mr. Hamburg] are not able to explain to your CEO, how book value [and thereby book value per share] has evolved over time for the parent, then you may have a problem.

If you're in control of your sh!te as Berkshire group CFO, you are supposed to know exactly the composition of Berkshire earnings, for accounting purposes, - for any period, including explanations for variances.
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coc

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Re: Intrinsic Value of GIECO
« Reply #11 on: May 25, 2019, 02:07:49 PM »
coc,

Somebody has to call you out, - I'm hereby by doing it.

There is something called "Minimum regulatory capital requirements" for US insurance companies. It's explained in the Berkshire 10-Qs & 10-Ks. I'm not going to spend time on explaining it to you here.

Furthermore - in short - if you, as the CFO of the parent [in this case, Mr. Hamburg] are not able to explain to your CEO, how book value [and thereby book value per share] has evolved over time for the parent, then you may have a problem.

If you're in control of your sh!te as Berkshire group CFO, you are supposed to know exactly the composition of Berkshire earnings, for accounting purposes, - for any period, including explanations for variances.

I’m sorry, must be missing something, how does this relate  to my post on GEICO’s value? I’m very familiar with insurance regulatory capital req’s.

longinvestor

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Re: Intrinsic Value of GIECO
« Reply #12 on: May 25, 2019, 04:08:27 PM »
Good to know that GEICO is worth > Zero in IV. How about BHRG? NICO? Specialty? Other Ins? Hope they are all worth > Zero.

If this Grove is worth < Zero, it won't be fun owning Berkshire.

Can I ask what would lead you to believe those four, among the most powerful insurers in the world (not to mention the most profitable), might be worthless?
I don’t. My attempt to express Berkshire ‘s undervaluation (tongue in cheek). The below post by the same OP as the current post captures how ridiculously undervalued Berkshire is. Warren Buffett is not too eager to elaborate on insurance valuation with a number in his annual letter. Any question that attempted at pinning Buffett down with how he values the insurance was skirted around. He has, Year after year, outlined how statutory accounting does not come close to properly valuing the insurance portfolio at Berkshire. I have often wondered as to how much of Ajit Jain’s float has seen claims paid against it. Kinda my guess is “not much”. If any claims are paid, they get paid slowly over a very long time. Like the Lloyds book they acquired. The description of “May eventually be paid “ is huge for Berkshire. In the meantime they hold whole entities whose profits are used to buy other entities. So the accounting treatment comes nowehere close to capturing value.

 My conclusion is that it is vastly undervalued and am happy to not count this at all under the guise of “conservatively calculated”. Or leave it for a margin of safety. Buffett appears to be doing so.

http://www.cornerofberkshireandfairfax.ca/forum/berkshire-hathaway/berkshire-valuation-portfoliocash-$130brk-b-share-equivelent/
« Last Edit: May 25, 2019, 04:25:26 PM by longinvestor »

coc

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Re: Intrinsic Value of GIECO
« Reply #13 on: May 25, 2019, 04:47:09 PM »
I don’t. My attempt to express Berkshire ‘s undervaluation (tongue in cheek).
 My conclusion is that it is vastly undervalued and am happy to not count this at all under the guise of “conservatively calculated”. Or leave it for a margin of safety. Buffett appears to be doing so.

Gotcha - you’re probably right!

longinvestor

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Re: Intrinsic Value of GIECO
« Reply #14 on: May 25, 2019, 05:05:08 PM »
When it comes to pinning down a number for the insurance entity, I’m reminded of a section in the book “Where are the Customers’ Yachts?” by Fred Shwed. There’s this bank or FI in the 1920’s or 30’s wherein the accounting department had the rule that nobody left the office until the books were balanced to within 6 cents. And they did. But none of the same folks could come up with the value of the firm within a million bucks.

 With due respect to those well versed in accounting, Berkshire is similarly placed. We are talking about 5 or 10 or 150 billion variation in valuation.

bizaro86

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Re: Intrinsic Value of GIECO
« Reply #15 on: May 25, 2019, 06:24:16 PM »

I don't disagree with you particularly, but I would note that 20 luxury apartments isn't the right comparison. New York City nearly went bankrupt in 1975. In 1976, luxury apartments were selling for peanuts because the monthly fees were approximately equal to or even exceeded the rental value.  I think its very likely that a clever buyer could have bought more like 235 luxury apartments in New York City at the time, which closes the gap considerably.

I couldn't find a source for luxury apartment prices in 1976, but I did find a source for an average price per square foot by decade. The 1970s was $45. https://web.archive.org/web/20130509123604/http://matrix.millersamuel.com/?p=12300

That implies $47 MM would have bought just over a million square feet of NYC residential real estate. I suspect someone who had done that with their money would be pretty happy with the outcome today as well, although it may only be worth a few billion.

Great point, but careful again here. The figures you quote are the average for NYC residential, not super luxury. For example it shows the current number (2010s) as $1,070/sq ft. That would be $3.2 million for a 3,000 sq ft apartment. The truly high end apartments (the ones that might cost $47 million) are more like $5,000 per sq ft.

So the comparable number in 1976 might have been $250/sq ft or something. That might imply closer to 50 luxury apartments - for current earning power in the area of perhaps $100 million. Regardless, I think the order of magnitude is what’s important. And that was buying during a time of near depression in NYC real estate, as you mentioned.

Be careful because the cash GEICO has thrown off has also increased the value of Berkshire (as with See's). He may (though I'm not sure) be including that. He mentioned $15.5B in underwriting profits in Tony's time with GEICO - which one would argue is attributable to Tony's management - while earnings on float are not. ...

coc,

Are you an accountant? [ : - ) ] -I ask because you think about this exactly like I do.

- - - o 0 o - - -

Edit:

Geico - Financial Information.

There was here on CoBF a similar discussion about NICO a few years back [for NICO, similar information is available at the NICO website], with some very good elaborations and explanations provided by gfp about how to interpret the numbers - they must still be laying around here in the Berkshire forum somewhere.

How dare you accuse me of being an accountant.  :D

No, no.

Good points, although I wonder about the assumption that the multiple between regular and super luxury apartments has remained constant. My guess would be that from a NYC real estate depression until now the super luxury has done better than the pedestrian in appreciation  (perhaps at the expense of cash flow).

I recalled a passage in a  book about the near give away of luxury apartments in the mid 70s. I'm pretty sure it was 740 Park Avenue.

That's a top tier address, and I found some comps in the press. Saul Steinberg paid $275k for a 34 room triplex in 740 Park in 1971, which he sold in 2001 for $37 MM.
https://www-vanityfair-com.cdn.ampproject.org/v/s/www.vanityfair.com/news/2001/01/saul-gayfryd-steinberg-200101/amp?amp_js_v=a2&amp_gsa=1&usqp=mq331AQA#aoh=15588315521740&csi=1&referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com&amp_tf=From%20%251%24s&ampshare=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.vanityfair.com%2Fnews%2F2001%2F01%2Fsaul-gayfryd-steinberg-200101

By the end of the decade the French government paid $600,000 for a 18 room place in the same building, which they sold for $70 MM in 2014.

I think 500k for a super luxury apartment in 1975 is a very generous number, implying Buffett could have gotten 100 or so of them for his money. It's all hypothetical of course, because I doubt there were 100 apartments of that nature for sale at the time. But if it was possible, using that same French comp from 2014 would get you to approximately $7 B.

DooDiligence

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Intrinsic Value of WHO??? ===>GEICO<===
« Reply #16 on: May 26, 2019, 07:04:25 AM »
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

                           There, fixed it.

                                   :)
« Last Edit: May 26, 2019, 07:06:33 AM by DooDiligence »
Healthcare 25.9% - CVS EW NVO // BRK.B - 23.1% // Auto's & Oil 15.0% - CLB GPC VDE

Entertainment 4.8% - DIS // Banking 9.9% - WFC // Drinkers & Smokers 4.9% - MO

%'s held @ MV 08/29/2019 minus 16.4% investable cash

i trumpet my ignorance

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Cigarbutt

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Re: Intrinsic Value of GIECO
« Reply #17 on: May 26, 2019, 07:36:08 AM »
coc,

Somebody has to call you out, - I'm hereby by doing it.

There is something called "Minimum regulatory capital requirements" for US insurance companies. It's explained in the Berkshire 10-Qs & 10-Ks. I'm not going to spend time on explaining it to you here.

Furthermore - in short - if you, as the CFO of the parent [in this case, Mr. Hamburg] are not able to explain to your CEO, how book value [and thereby book value per share] has evolved over time for the parent, then you may have a problem.

If you're in control of your sh!te as Berkshire group CFO, you are supposed to know exactly the composition of Berkshire earnings, for accounting purposes, - for any period, including explanations for variances.

I’m sorry, must be missing something, how does this relate  to my post on GEICO’s value? I’m very familiar with insurance regulatory capital req’s.
In 1995, tangible net worth for Geico was 1.9B and surplus at end of 2016 was 15.7B suggesting that a significant part of statutory operating income (including the 15.5B of pre-tax underwriting gain) was retained at the sub level.

In the 2018 report, Geico's float is stated at 22.1B.

The 2010 report has interesting comments about intrinsic value of Geico, referring to the fact that the intangible value paid in 1996 for policyholders stood at 97% of written premiums. Adding the 2016 surplus of 15.7B to 97% of 2018 written premiums (33.1B) approaches the 50B mark. Geico does not have the same potential for growth now but interest rates are lower and perhaps will stay low.

@DooDiligence
Thank you for the corrective due diligence as León Gieco is the Argentine Bob Dylan.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2019, 07:37:51 AM by Cigarbutt »

DooDiligence

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Re: Intrinsic Value of GIECO
« Reply #18 on: May 26, 2019, 07:54:54 AM »
coc,

Somebody has to call you out, - I'm hereby by doing it.

There is something called "Minimum regulatory capital requirements" for US insurance companies. It's explained in the Berkshire 10-Qs & 10-Ks. I'm not going to spend time on explaining it to you here.

Furthermore - in short - if you, as the CFO of the parent [in this case, Mr. Hamburg] are not able to explain to your CEO, how book value [and thereby book value per share] has evolved over time for the parent, then you may have a problem.

If you're in control of your sh!te as Berkshire group CFO, you are supposed to know exactly the composition of Berkshire earnings, for accounting purposes, - for any period, including explanations for variances.

I’m sorry, must be missing something, how does this relate  to my post on GEICO’s value? I’m very familiar with insurance regulatory capital req’s.
In 1995, tangible net worth for Geico was 1.9B and surplus at end of 2016 was 15.7B suggesting that a significant part of statutory operating income (including the 15.5B of pre-tax underwriting gain) was retained at the sub level.

In the 2018 report, Geico's float is stated at 22.1B.

The 2010 report has interesting comments about intrinsic value of Geico, referring to the fact that the intangible value paid in 1996 for policyholders stood at 97% of written premiums. Adding the 2016 surplus of 15.7B to 97% of 2018 written premiums (33.1B) approaches the 50B mark. Geico does not have the same potential for growth now but interest rates are lower and perhaps will stay low.

@DooDiligence
Thank you for the corrective due diligence as León Gieco is the Argentine Bob Dylan.

Nice, but does he generate float?  ;)

Here's a fun non-GIECO excerpt from the 2010 BRK AM, about the importance of Ajit Jain (it starts at about 01:31:00)

https://twitter.com/BillBrewsterSCG/status/1132377508748451840

I like it when Uncle Warren says "Every year I think our float has peaked." 🤑
Healthcare 25.9% - CVS EW NVO // BRK.B - 23.1% // Auto's & Oil 15.0% - CLB GPC VDE

Entertainment 4.8% - DIS // Banking 9.9% - WFC // Drinkers & Smokers 4.9% - MO

%'s held @ MV 08/29/2019 minus 16.4% investable cash

i trumpet my ignorance

https://twitter.com/tunawish

coc

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Re: Intrinsic Value of GIECO
« Reply #19 on: May 26, 2019, 09:47:00 AM »
In 1995, tangible net worth for Geico was 1.9B and surplus at end of 2016 was 15.7B suggesting that a significant part of statutory operating income (including the 15.5B of pre-tax underwriting gain) was retained at the sub level.

In the 2018 report, Geico's float is stated at 22.1B.

The 2010 report has interesting comments about intrinsic value of Geico, referring to the fact that the intangible value paid in 1996 for policyholders stood at 97% of written premiums. Adding the 2016 surplus of 15.7B to 97% of 2018 written premiums (33.1B) approaches the 50B mark. Geico does not have the same potential for growth now but interest rates are lower and perhaps will stay low.

@DooDiligence
Thank you for the corrective due diligence as León Gieco is the Argentine Bob Dylan.

Yes some portion of GEICOs profitability has obviously been retained in order to grow, but the larger part of its income over the years almost surely came from its investment results. If you’re writing 3x premium to equity and have an investment portfolio of 3x equity, you’d only need a total return of 3% to match 3% underwriting profits. I’d imagine it’s been much higher than that at GEICO. So the company would have distributed a large amount of money even while retaining $14B to grow.

An insurance company really (in my opinion) can be valued no differently than any other enterprise. What do they earn on equity? How fast will it grow and for how long? How much capital is needed to grow? If you can answer those with some confidence, you’ve got a good beat on it. I tried my hand at that above.

If you told me you thought GEICO was worth $50 billion today I wouldn’t necessarily argue though.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2019, 09:50:39 AM by coc »