BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY INC.

波克夏海瑟崴股份有限公司


To the Shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.:

致所有股東:

Our gain in net worth during 1999 was $358 million, which increased
the per-share book value of both our Class A and Class B stock by 0.5%.
Over the last 35 years (that is, since present management took over)
per-share book value has grown from $19 to $37,987, a rate of 24.0%
compounded annually.*

本公司1999年的淨值增加了3.58億美元,每股A股或B股的帳面淨值皆成長
了0.5%,累計過去35年以來,也就是自從現有經營階層接手之後,每股淨值
由當初的19元成長到現在的37,987美元,年複合成長率約為24.0%*。

 

*All figures used in this report apply to Berkshire's A shares, the successor to the only stock that
the company had outstanding before 1996. The B shares have an economic interest equal to
1/30th that of the A.

*1在年報中所謂的每股數字係以A級普通股約當數為基礎,這是本公司在1996年以前流通在
外唯一的一種股份,B級普通股則擁有A級普通股三十分之一的權利。

 

The numbers on the facing page show just how poor our 1999 record
was. We had the worst absolute performance of my tenure and,
compared to the S&P, the worst relative performance as well. Relative
results are what concern us: Over time, bad relative numbers will
produce unsatisfactory absolute results.

首頁上的數字完全顯示出我們1999年的成績是如何的不理想,這也是個人歷年
來表現最差的一年,不管從絕對數字或是與S&P 指數比較皆是如此,當然相對
數字是我們比較在意的,只不過時間一久,相對較差的數字其絕對數值肯定也不
會理想到哪裡去。

Even Inspector Clouseau could find last year's guilty party: your
Chairman. My performance reminds me of the quarterback whose
report card showed four Fs and a D but who nonetheless had an
understanding coach. "Son," he drawled, "I think you're spending too
much time on that one subject."

即使是頑皮豹探長也知道誰是去年真正的犯人︰沒錯! 就是我本人,而我個人的
表現讓我想起一位成績單上滿是F跟一個D的四分衛,偏偏又遇到一個體諒人
的教練輕聲說到:「孩子,我想你把太多的時間擺在單一的科目之上了。」

My "one subject" is capital allocation, and my grade for 1999 most
assuredly is a D. What most hurt us during the year was the inferior
performance of Berkshire's equity portfolio -- and responsibility for
that portfolio, leaving aside the small piece of it run by Lou Simpson of
GEICO, is entirely mine. Several of our largest investees badly lagged the
market in 1999 because they've had disappointing operating results. We
still like these businesses and are content to have major investments in
them. But their stumbles damaged our performance last year, and it's no
sure thing that they will quickly regain their stride.

我所指的單一科目就是"資金的分配",而很顯然的我在1999年所獲得的成績就
只有D,除此之外表現最慘的要算是Berkshire的股票投資組合了,至於該為這
件事負責的,除了少部份的投資是由GEICO公司的Lou Simpson管理外,其
餘全部都要歸咎於我本人,我們幾件大型的投資標的,由於本身1999年的經營
情況不佳,導致公司股價表現遠落後於大盤,不過我們仍然對它們所處的產業情
有獨鍾,同時也願意繼續與它們同在,只是它們的挫敗嚴重影響到我們去年的表
現,而且也不確定何時才能夠回歸正軌。

The fallout from our weak results in 1999 was a more-than-
commensurate drop in our stock price. In 1998, to go back a bit, the
stock outperformed the business. Last year the business did much
better than the stock, a divergence that has continued to the date of this
letter. Over time, of course, the performance of the stock must roughly
match the performance of the business.

Berkshire 1999年積弱不振的表現,更導致公司的股價大幅下滑,相較之下,
1998年的股價反而表現的比本業還好,去年可說是剛好相反,直到年報發佈之
日止仍是如此,當然就長期而言,公司股價的表現大致上還是會與本業的表現相
當。

Despite our poor showing last year, Charlie Munger, Berkshire's Vice
Chairman and my partner, and I expect that the gain in Berkshire's
intrinsic value over the next decade will modestly exceed the gain from
owning the S&P. We can't guarantee that, of course. But we are willing to
back our conviction with our own money. To repeat a fact you've heard
before, well over 99% of my net worth resides in Berkshire. Neither my
wife nor I have ever sold a share of Berkshire and -- unless our checks
stop clearing -- we have no intention of doing so.

盡管去年表現不佳,不過Berkshire 主要的合夥人-查理孟格,跟我本人仍然預
期Berkshire未來十年實質價值的成長率應該可以略微超越S&P 指數同期的表
現,當然這種事沒人敢打包票,不過我們依舊願意以我們所有的身家作為擔保,
大家應該都知道,我個人的身家有99%以上都擺在Berkshire,我跟我內人從來
就沒有賣過一張Berkshire的股票,而且除非哪一天真的不夠錢花,否則我們永
遠不會考慮出售任何一張股票。

Please note that I spoke of hoping to beat the S&P "modestly." For
Berkshire, truly large superiorities over that index are a thing of the
past. They existed then because we could buy both businesses and
stocks at far more attractive prices than we can now, and also because
we then had a much smaller capital base, a situation that allowed us to
consider a much wider range of investment opportunities than are
available to us today.

請注意我說的是"略微"超越S&P,因為對Berkshire來說,大幅超越S&P指數的
情況已經成為歷史,當初能夠有這樣的成績,主要是因為那時不管企業或是股票
的價格都相當低廉,而我們的資本規模相對也較小,那使得我們比現在有更多的
投資機會可供選擇。

Our optimism about Berkshire's performance is also tempered by the
expectation -- indeed, in our minds, the virtual certainty -- that the S&P
will do far less well in the next decade or two than it has done since
1982. A recent article in Fortune expressed my views as to why this is
inevitable, and I'm enclosing a copy with this report.

此外我之所以對Berkshire未來的表現如此有信心的原因在於,我認為S&P在
未來一、二十年的表現將遠遠不如過去十幾年的表現,在最近的財星雜誌我發表
了一篇文章解釋這種無可避免的緣由,在年報後面我也附了一份供大家參考。

Our goal is to run our present businesses well -- a task made easy
because of the outstanding managers we have in place -- and to acquire
additional businesses having economic characteristics and managers
comparable to those we already own. We made important progress in
this respect during 1999 by acquiring Jordan's Furniture and
contracting to buy a major portion of MidAmerican Energy. We will talk
more about these companies later in the report but let me emphasize
one point here: We bought both for cash, issuing no Berkshire shares.
Deals of that kind aren't always possible, but that is the method of
acquisition that Charlie and I vastly prefer.


我們的目標是把現有的事業給經營好-這點對於現有優秀的經營階層來說是件很
簡單的事,同時再設法取得具有相同競爭優勢與優秀經理人的新事業,去年我們
在這方面大有進展,不但買下了Jordan傢具,同時還簽約買下了MidAmerican
能源大部分的股權,在報告的後段我還會詳加介紹這兩家公司,不過有一點我要
強調的是,這兩項購併案Berkshire全部皆以現金進行交易,沒有發行任何新
股,雖然這樣的交易方式可遇不可求,但卻也是查理跟我比較偏好的。

Guides to Intrinsic Value
實質價值簡介

I often talk in these pages about intrinsic value, a key, though far from
precise, measurement we utilize in our acquisitions of businesses and
common stocks. (For an extensive discussion of this, and other
investment and accounting terms and concepts, please refer to our
Owner's Manual on pages 55 - 62. Intrinsic value is discussed on page
60.)

在接下來的這一段,我要談談常常提到實質價值的觀念,這是一個我們在進行企
業購併與股票投資時,很重要但卻很難明確界定的標準,(有關這個議題的廣泛
討論,也包含其他投資與會計名詞觀念,請參閱股東手冊)。

In our last four reports, we have furnished you a table that we regard as
useful in estimating Berkshire's intrinsic value. In the updated version of
that table, which follows, we trace two key components of value. The
first column lists our per-share ownership of investments (including
cash and equivalents but excluding assets held in our financial products
operation) and the second column shows our per-share earnings from
Berkshire's operating businesses before taxes and purchase-accounting
adjustments (discussed on page 61), but after all interest and corporate
expenses. The second column excludes all dividends, interest and
capital gains that we realized from the investments presented in the
first column. In effect, the columns show how Berkshire would look if it
were split into two parts, with one entity holding our investments and
the other operating all of our businesses and bearing all corporate
costs.

在最近四年的年報中,我們提供了我們認為可以最能夠估計Berkshire實質價值
的一張表,在今年剛剛更新資料的表中,我們以擬制的方式將通用再保的數字加
入其中,也就是假設該公司自年度一開始就為我們所擁有,第一欄的數字代表我
們擁有每股的投資金額(包括現金與約當現金,但扣除財務金融單位持有的證
券),第二欄則是每股在扣除利息與營業費用之後,Berkshire來自本業的營業利
益(但未扣除所得稅與購買法會計調整數),當然後者已經扣除了所有來自第一欄
投資所貢獻的股利收入、利息收入與資本利得,事實上,從這張表可以看出若是
把Berkshire分拆成兩部份的話會變成怎樣,其結果就等於是一家持有我們投資
部位的控股公司,以及另一家經營旗下所有事業負擔全部成本盈虧的營利事業。

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pre-tax Earnings
(Loss) Per Share

 

   

Investments

 

With All Income from

 

Year

 

 

 

Per Share

 

Investments Excluded

 

1969

 

........

 

 $ 45

$ 4.39

 

1979

 

........

 

577

 

13.07

 

1989

 

........

 

7,200

 

108.86

 

1999

 

........

 

47,339

 

(458.55)

 

 

Here are the growth rates of the two segments by decade:
下表是這兩個部份每十年的成長率:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pre-tax Earnings Per Share

 

 

 

 

 

Investments

 

With All Income from

 

Decade Ending

 

 

 

Per Share

 

Investments Excluded

 

1979

 

.............................................

 

29.0%

 

11.5%

 

1989

 

.............................................

 

28.7%

 

23.6%

 

1999

 

............................................. .............................................

20.7%

 

N.A.

 

       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Annual Growth Rate, 1969-1999 .................

 

25.4%

 

N.A.

 

 

 In 1999, our per-share investments changed very little, but our
operating earnings, affected by negatives that overwhelmed some
strong positives, fell apart. Most of our operating managers deserve a
grade of A for delivering fine results and for having widened the
difference between the intrinsic value of their businesses and the value
at which these are carried on our balance sheet. But, offsetting this, we
had a huge -- and, I believe, aberrational -- underwriting loss at
General Re. Additionally, GEICO's underwriting profit fell, as we had
predicted it would. GEICO's overall performance, though, was terrific,
outstripping my ambitious goals.

1999年,我們每股投資金額變化不大,但是每股營業利益卻因為幾個重大的負
面因素而大幅滑落,我們大部分的經理人都得到A級以上的評價,大幅增加各
自事業的實質價值與顯示在資產負債表上的帳面價值,只不過可惜的是這一切的
努力通通都被通用再保異常的承保損失給抵消掉了,此外GEICO的承保利益也
一如預期地下滑,雖然其整體表現仍然遠遠超越當初我訂下的嚴格目標。

We do not expect our underwriting earnings to improve in any dramatic
way this year. Though GEICO's intrinsic value should grow by a highly
satisfying amount, its underwriting performance is almost certain to
weaken. That's because auto insurers, as a group, will do worse in 2000,
and because we will materially increase our marketing expenditures. At
General Re, we are raising rates and, if there is no mega-catastrophe in
2000, the company's underwriting loss should fall considerably. It takes
some time, however, for the full effect of rate increases to kick in, and
General Re is therefore likely to have another unsatisfactory
underwriting year.


展望今年我們並不預期承保獲利能夠大幅改進,雖然GEICO的實質價值應該還
是能夠以一個令人滿意的幅度增加,但其承保成績卻一定會滑落,原因在於車險
業者在2000年整體的表現肯定不佳,也因為我們將投入大筆的行銷經費,至於
通用再保,我們已開始調高保費,只要2000年不要再發生重大的意外災害的
話,該公司的承保損失應該會大幅減少,不過保費調整的效果要完全顯現,可能
需要一段時間,所以可以預期的是通用再保明年的承保成績肯定也不會好到哪裡
去。

You should be aware that one item regularly working to widen the
amount by which intrinsic value exceeds book value is the annual
charge against income we take for amortization of goodwill -- an
amount now running about $500 million. This charge reduces the
amount of goodwill we show as an asset and likewise the amount that is
included in our book value. This is an accounting matter having nothing
to do with true economic goodwill, which increases in most years. But
even if economic goodwill were to remain constant, the annual
amortization charge would persistently widen the gap between intrinsic
value and book value.

財報中有一個叫做商譽攤銷的費用項目是大家要特別注意的,Berkshire每年固
定提列的金額大約在五億美元左右,這個動作使得資產負債表上商譽的會計數字
逐年遞減,但卻與實質經濟穩定成長的現況背道而馳,而就算是實質的經濟商譽
價值維持不變,每年固定提列的商譽攤銷費用也會使得帳上的商譽與實際上的商
譽價值間的差距日益擴大。

Though we can't give you a precise figure for Berkshire's intrinsic value,
or even an approximation, Charlie and I can assure you that it far
exceeds our $57.8 billion book value. Businesses such as See's and
Buffalo News are now worth fifteen to twenty times the value at which
they are carried on our books. Our goal is to continually widen this
spread at all subsidiaries.


雖然我們無法給各位一個Berkshire實際價值的確切數字,這實在是很難去估
算,不過查理跟我可以向各位保證,實際的數字絕對遠超過578億美元的帳面
價值,許多事業包含水牛城新聞報與喜斯糖果在內的實際價值大概是帳面價值的
十五到二十倍之間,不過我們的目標是繼續讓子公司擴大這樣的差距。

A Managerial Story You Will Never Read Elsewhere
別處讀不到的經營故事

Berkshire's collection of managers is unusual in several important ways.
As one example, a very high percentage of these men and women are
independently wealthy, having made fortunes in the businesses that
they run. They work neither because they need the money nor because
they are contractually obligated to -- we have no contracts at Berkshire.
Rather, they work long and hard because they love their businesses.
And I use the word "their" advisedly, since these managers are truly in
charge -- there are no show-and-tell presentations in Omaha, no
budgets to be approved by headquarters, no dictums issued about
capital expenditures. We simply ask our managers to run their
companies as if these are the sole asset of their families and will remain
so for the next century.

Berkshire的經營團隊在許多方面都與眾不同,舉個例子來說,這些先生女士大
部分都已經相當有錢,靠著自己經營的事業致富,他們之所以願意繼續留在工作
崗位上,並不是因為缺錢或是有任何合約上的限制,事實上Berkshire並沒有跟
他們簽訂任何契約,他們之所以辛勤工作,完全是因為他們熱愛自己的事業,而
我之所以用"他們"這個字眼,是因為他們對這些事業完全負全責,不需要到奧瑪
哈做簡報,也不需要編預算送交總部核准,對於任何開支也沒有繁複的規定,我
們只是簡單地要他們就像是經營自己祖傳百年的事業一樣來對待即可。

Charlie and I try to behave with our managers just as we attempt to
behave with Berkshire's shareholders, treating both groups as we would
wish to be treated if our positions were reversed. Though "working"
means nothing to me financially, I love doing it at Berkshire for some
simple reasons: It gives me a sense of achievement, a freedom to act as
I see fit and an opportunity to interact daily with people I like and trust.
Why should our managers -- accomplished artists at what they do --
see things differently?

查理跟我與這些經理人保持互動的模式,與我們和Berkshire所有股東保持的互
動模式一致,那就是試著盡量站在對方的立場為大家設想,雖然我本人早就可以
不必為了經濟因素而工作,不過我還是很喜歡現在在Berkshire所做的這些事,
原因很簡單,因為這讓我很有成就感、可以自由的去做我認為應該做的事,同時
讓我每天都有機會與欣賞及信賴的人一起共事,所以為什麼我們旗下的經理人-
在各自產業卓然有成的大師,一定要有不同的想法呢?

In their relations with Berkshire, our managers often appear to be
hewing to President Kennedy's charge, "Ask not what your country can
do for you; ask what you can do for your country." Here's a remarkable
story from last year: It's about R. C. Willey, Utah's dominant home
furnishing business, which Berkshire purchased from Bill Child and his
family in 1995. Bill and most of his managers are Mormons, and for this
reason R. C. Willey's stores have never operated on Sunday. This is a
difficult way to do business: Sunday is the favorite shopping day for
many customers. Bill, nonetheless, stuck to his principles -- and while
doing so built his business from $250,000 of annual sales in 1954,
when he took over, to $342 million in 1999.

在與Berkshire母公司的關係上,我們的經理人通常恪守甘迺迪總統曾說過的名
言,"不要問國家為你做了什麼,問問你為國家做了什麼?" 以下就是去年一個最
明顯的例子,這是有關R.C.Willey-猶它州傢具業的霸主,Berkshire是在1995
年從Bill Child家族買下這家公司的,Bill跟他大部分的經營團隊都是摩門教徒,
也因此他們的店星期天從來不開張,這樣的慣例實在是不適合用在做生意上,因
為對大部分的顧客來說,星期假日正是他們出外血拼的大好時機,不過儘管如
此,Bill還是堅守這項原則,而且將這家店從1954年他接手時的25萬美金營
業額,一路成長到1999年的3.42億美元。

Bill felt that R. C. Willey could operate successfully in markets outside of
Utah and in 1997 suggested that we open a store in Boise. I was highly
skeptical about taking a no-Sunday policy into a new territory where we
would be up against entrenched rivals open seven days a week.
Nevertheless, this was Bill's business to run. So, despite my
reservations, I told him to follow both his business judgment and his
religious convictions.

Bill認為R.C.Willey應該也能夠在猶它州以外的地區成功開拓市場,因此在
1997年我們在Boise設立一家分店,不過我還是相當懷疑這種星期天不營業的
政策能否在陌生的地區抵抗每週七天無休的對手強力的競爭,當然由於這是Bill
負責經營的事業,所以儘管我對這點持保留的態度,但是我還是尊重他的商業判
斷與宗教信仰。

Bill then insisted on a truly extraordinary proposition: He would
personally buy the land and build the store -- for about $9 million as it
turned out -- and would sell it to us at his cost if it proved to be
successful. On the other hand, if sales fell short of his expectations, we
could exit the business without paying Bill a cent. This outcome, of
course, would leave him with a huge investment in an empty building. I
told him that I appreciated his offer but felt that if Berkshire was going
to get the upside it should also take the downside. Bill said nothing
doing: If there was to be failure because of his religious beliefs, he
wanted to take the blow personally.

Bill後來甚至提出一個非常特別的提案,那就是他願意先花九百萬美元,以私人
的名義買下土地,等建築物蓋好,確定營運良好之後,再以成本價賣回給我們,
而要是營運不如預期,那麼公司可以不必付出一毛錢,雖然這樣他必須獨力承擔
龐大的損失,對此我告訴Bill很感謝他的提議,但若Berkshire想要獲取投資的
報酬,那麼它也必須同時承擔可能的風險,Bill沒有多說什麼,只是表示如果因
為個人的宗教信仰而使得公司經營不善,他希望能夠獨力承擔這個苦果。

The store opened last August and immediately became a huge success.
Bill thereupon turned the property over to us -- including some extra
land that had appreciated significantly -- and we wrote him a check for
his cost. And get this: Bill refused to take a dime of interest on the
capital he had tied up over the two years.
這家店後來順利於去年八月開幕,立即造成當地的轟動,Bill隨即就將產權辦理
過戶,另外包含一些地價已高漲的土地,並收下我們以成本價開出的支票,還有
一點必須特別說明,對於兩年來陸續投入的資金,Bill婉拒收取任何一毛錢的利
息。

 If a manager has behaved similarly at some other public corporation, I
haven't heard about it. You can understand why the opportunity to
partner with people like Bill Child causes me to tap dance to work every
morning.

從來就沒有一家公開發行公司的經理人會這樣做,至少我個人沒有聽說過,所以
各位不難想像能夠與這樣的經理人共事,讓我每天早上上班時都雀躍不已。


* * * * * * * * * * * *

 A footnote: After our "soft" opening in August, we had a grand opening
of the Boise store about a month later. Naturally, I went there to cut the
ribbon (your Chairman, I wish to emphasize, is good for something). In
my talk I told the crowd how sales had far exceeded expectations,
making us, by a considerable margin, the largest home furnishings
store in Idaho. Then, as the speech progressed, my memory
miraculously began to improve. By the end of my talk, it all had come
back to me: Opening a store in Boise had been my idea.


附帶一提的是,在八月簡單的開幕儀式之後,一個月後我們在Boise舉行了盛大
的開幕儀式,自然我也受邀參加開幕剪綵,(我必須強調看來你們的董事長還是
有點用處的),在致詞時我告訴在場的來賓銷售狀況遠超過我們當初的預期,讓
我們成為Idaho地區最大的傢具店,遠遠將其他同業拋在腦後,而等到致詞快
結束時,我突然想起來,當初決定在Boise開店的,正是我的主意。

The Economics of Property/Casualty Insurance
產物意外險的經營

 Our main business -- though we have others of great importance -- is
insurance. To understand Berkshire, therefore, it is necessary that you
understand how to evaluate an insurance company. The key
determinants are: (1) the amount of float that the business generates;
(2) its cost; and (3) most critical of all, the long-term outlook for both of
these factors.

保險是我們最主要的本業,當然其他事業也相當重要,想要了解Berkshire,你
就必須知道如何去評估一家保險公司,其中主要的關鍵因素有(1)這個行業所能
產生的浮存金數量(2)以及它的成本(3)最重要的是這些因素長期的展望。

To begin with, float is money we hold but don't own. In an insurance
operation, float arises because premiums are received before losses are
paid, an interval that sometimes extends over many years. During that
time, the insurer invests the money. This pleasant activity typically
carries with it a downside: The premiums that an insurer takes in usually
do not cover the losses and expenses it eventually must pay. That leaves
it running an "underwriting loss," which is the cost of float. An insurance
business has value if its cost of float over time is less than the cost the
company would otherwise incur to obtain funds. But the business is a
lemon if its cost of float is higher than market rates for money.


首先浮存金是一項我們持有但卻不屬於我們的資金,在保險公司的營運中,浮存
金產生的原因在於保險公司在真正支付損失理賠之前,一般會先向保戶收取保
費,在這期間保險公司會將資金運用在其他投資之上,當然這樣的好處也必須要
付出代價,通常保險業者收取的保費並不足以因應最後支付出去的相關損失與費
用,於是保險公司便會發生承保損失,這就是浮存金的成本,而當一家公司取得
浮存金成本,就長期而言低於從其它管道取得資金的成本時,它就有存在的價
值,否則一旦保險事業取得浮存金的成本若遠高於貨幣市場利率時,它就像是一
顆極酸的檸檬。

A caution is appropriate here: Because loss costs must be estimated,
insurers have enormous latitude in figuring their underwriting results,
and that makes it very difficult for investors to calculate a company's
true cost of float. Errors of estimation, usually innocent but sometimes
not, can be huge. The consequences of these miscalculations flow
directly into earnings. An experienced observer can usually detect
large-scale errors in reserving, but the general public can typically do
no more than accept what's presented, and at times I have been amazed
by the numbers that big-name auditors have implicitly blessed. In 1999
a number of insurers announced reserve adjustments that made a
mockery of the "earnings" that investors had relied on earlier when
making their buy and sell decisions. At Berkshire, we strive to be
conservative and consistent in our reserving. Even so, we warn you that
an unpleasant surprise is always possible.

有一點必須特別注意的是,因為損失成本必須仰賴估算,所以保險業者對於承保
結算的成績有相當大伸縮的空間,連帶使得投資人很難正確地衡量一家保險公司
真正的浮存金成本,估計錯誤,通常是無心,但有時卻是故意,與真實的結果往
往會有很大的差距,而這種結果直接反映在公司的損益表上,有經驗的行家通常
可以經由公司的準備提列情形發現重大的錯誤,但對於一般投資大眾來說,除了
被迫接受財務報表的數字之外,別無他法,而我個人常常被這些經過各大會計師
事務所背書的財務報告所嚇到,1999年有許多保險業者宣佈對先前不當提列準
備而導致投資人形成錯誤決策的騙術進行調整,不過在Berkshire,我們在提列
準備時,都盡量採取最保守的做法,不過我還是要警告大家,保險業所發生的意
外,通常都不會是什麼好消息。

The table that follows shows (at intervals) the float generated by the
various segments of Berkshire's insurance operations since we entered
the business 33 years ago upon acquiring National Indemnity Company
(whose traditional lines are included in the segment "Other Primary").
For the table we have calculated our float -- which we generate in large
amounts relative to our premium volume -- by adding net loss reserves,
loss adjustment reserves, funds held under reinsurance assumed and
unearned premium reserves, and then subtracting agents balances,
prepaid acquisition costs, prepaid taxes and deferred charges
applicable to assumed reinsurance. (Got that?)


下表中所顯示的數字是,Berkshire自取得國家產險公司經營權,進入保險事業
33年以來所貢獻的浮存金,(其中傳統業務包含在其他主險項下),在這張計算
浮存金的表中,(相對於收到的保費收入,我們持有的浮存金部位算是相當大的)
我們將所有的損失準備、損失費用調整準備、再保預先收取的資金與未賺取保費
加總後,再扣除應付佣金、預付購併成本、預付稅負以及取得再保業務的相關遞
延費用,得出浮存金的數額,弄清楚了嗎??

 

Yearend Float (in $ millions)

 



Year



GEICO



General Re

Other
Reinsurance

 

Other
Primary

 



Total

1967

 

     

20

 

20

 

1977

 

   

40

 

131

 

171

 

1987

 

   

701

 

807

 

1,508

 

1997

 

2,917

 

 

4,014

 

455

 

7,386

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1998

 

3,125

 

14,909

 

4,305

 

415

 

22,754

 

1999

 

3,444

 

15,166

 

6,285

 

403

 

25,298

 

 

Growth of float is important -- but its cost is what's vital. Over the years
we have usually recorded only a small underwriting loss -- which means
our cost of float was correspondingly low -- or actually had an
underwriting profit, which means we were being paid for holding other
people's money. Indeed, our cumulative result through 1998 was an
underwriting profit. In 1999, however, we incurred a $1.4 billion
underwriting loss that left us with float cost of 5.8%. One mildly
mitigating factor: We enthusiastically welcomed $400 million of the loss
because it stems from business that will deliver us exceptional float
over the next decade. The balance of the loss, however, was decidedly
unwelcome, and our overall result must be judged extremely poor.
Absent a mega-catastrophe, we expect float cost to fall in 2000, but any
decline will be tempered by our aggressive plans for GEICO, which we
will discuss later.

浮存金持續成長雖然很重要,但是取得它的成本卻更關鍵,多年以來,我們的承
保損失一直控制在相當低的限度,這代表我們浮存金的成本也非常的低,有時甚
至還有承保的利益,這等於是由別人付費來保管他們的錢,就像是我們1998年
結算下來就有承保利益,只不過很不幸的,我們1999年發生了14億美元的承
保損失,這使得我們浮存金的成本一下暴增到5.8%,令人慶幸的是,其中有一
筆4億美元的損失,將可以在未來十年內提供給我們一筆高額的浮存金,當然
其他的損失就讓人覺得不太愉快,這樣的成績很明顯的讓人無法接受,除非再發
生重大的天災人禍,我們預期2000年的浮存金成本將會下降,不過任何的下降
都必須面臨GEICO強力行銷計畫的阻攔,關於這點在後面我還會再詳細敘述。

 There are a number of people who deserve credit for manufacturing so
much "no-cost" float over the years. Foremost is Ajit Jain. It's simply
impossible to overstate Ajit's value to Berkshire: He has from scratch
built an outstanding reinsurance business, which during his tenure has
earned an underwriting profit and now holds $6.3 billion of float.


能夠取得這筆免成本的浮存金要歸功於許多人,這其中貢獻最大的當屬Ajit
Jain,他對於Berkshire貢獻的價值實在是難以估算,在他的任期間,從無到有
一手建立起Berkshire的再保險事業,如今不但持有63億美元的浮存金,同時
每年還維持穩定的承保獲利。

In Ajit, we have an underwriter equipped with the intelligence to
properly rate most risks; the realism to forget about those he can't
evaluate; the courage to write huge policies when the premium is
appropriate; and the discipline to reject even the smallest risk when the
premium is inadequate. It is rare to find a person possessing any one of
these talents. For one person to have them all is remarkable.

在Ajit的身上,我們看到一位核保人員如何運用智慧將風險合理的訂價,能夠
理性回絕無法衡量的風險,同時又能勇敢地接受高額但合理的保單,紀律地拒絕
任何不合理訂價的微小風險,我們很難在一般人身上找到這類的特點,而要三者
合一更是絕無僅有。

Since Ajit specializes in super-cat reinsurance, a line in which losses are
infrequent but extremely large when they occur, his business is sure to
be far more volatile than most insurance operations. To date, we have
benefitted from good luck on this volatile book. Even so, Ajit's
achievements are truly extraordinary.

而自從Ajit全心全力投入巨災的再保業務之後,這是損失發生及不穩定,但一
發生即非常慘重的險種,可以肯定的是,Ajit絕對將面臨比其他險種變動更大的
狀況,所幸到目前為止,Berkshire在這類業務的運氣還算不錯,但即便如此,
Ajit的表現依然可圈可點。

In a smaller but nevertheless important way, our "other primary"
insurance operation has also added to Berkshire's intrinsic value. This
collection of insurers has delivered a $192 million underwriting profit
over the past five years while supplying us with the float shown in the
table. In the insurance world, results like this are uncommon, and for
their feat we thank Rod Eldred, Brad Kinstler, John Kizer, Don Towle and
Don Wurster.

其他規模較小但同等重要的"其他保險"營運一樣為Berkshire增添了許多實質價
值,總結過去五年來,這群保險公司為我們貢獻了1.92億美元的承保利益,外
加下表所顯示的浮存金,在保險世界裏,能夠有這樣的成績實屬不易,這都要感
謝Rod、Brad、John、Don等人。

 As I mentioned earlier, the General Re operation had an exceptionally
poor underwriting year in 1999 (though investment income left the
company well in the black). Our business was extremely underpriced,
both domestically and internationally, a condition that is improving but
not yet corrected. Over time, however, the company should develop a
growing amount of low-cost float. At both General Re and its Cologne
subsidiary, incentive compensation plans are now directly tied to the
variables of float growth and cost of float, the same variables that
determine value for owners.

就像是先前我曾提過的,通用再保1999年的承保績效相當的慘烈,(雖然投資
利益足以讓這家公司免於赤字),我們的保費訂價實在是過低,不管是國內或海
外業務皆是如此,雖然目前情況已有改進但卻尚未完全矯正過來,不過就長期而
言,我認為這家公司應該還是能夠穩定地貢獻低成本的浮存金,目前在通用再保
以及其位於科隆的子公司,經理人的績效獎金多寡完全取決於浮存金成長速度以
及其取得成本,這同時也是股東們最重視,也是決定公司價值的幾項主要數據。

 Even though a reinsurer may have a tightly focused and rational
compensation system, it cannot count on every year coming up roses.
Reinsurance is a highly volatile business, and neither General Re nor
Ajit's operation is immune to bad pricing behavior in the industry. But
General Re has the distribution, the underwriting skills, the culture, and
-- with Berkshire's backing -- the financial clout to become the world's
most profitable reinsurance company. Getting there will take time,
energy and discipline, but we have no doubt that Ron Ferguson and his
crew can make it happen.
雖然再保業者都有一套相當明確、合理的獎勵計畫,但實在是很能保證每年都能
夠有亮麗的成績,再保業是變動相當大的產業,不管是通用再保或甚至是Ajit
都很難免除業者殺價競爭的不當行為,不過通用再保擁有行銷通路、承保技巧、
企業文化等優勢,加上在Berkshire強大的財務支援之下,極有潛力成為全世界
獲利最佳的再保公司,當然要達到這樣的目標絕對需要時間、精力以及紀律,相
信Ron Ferguson及其經營團隊絕對能夠完成這個目標。

GEICO (1-800-847-7536 or GEICO.com)
蓋可保險 (1-800-847-7536 or GEICO.com)


GEICO made exceptional progress in 1999. The reasons are simple: We
have a terrific business idea being implemented by an extraordinary
manager, Tony Nicely. When Berkshire purchased GEICO at the
beginning of 1996, we handed the keys to Tony and asked him to run
the operation exactly as if he owned 100% of it. He has done the rest.
Take a look at his scorecard:

蓋可1999年的成長十分驚人,原因很簡單:一個絕佳的經營想法由最優秀的經
理人-Tony Nicely加以落實,當Berkshire在1996年初買下蓋可時,我們立
刻把鑰匙交到Tony的手上,請他把這家公司當作是自己擁有的一樣的心態去經
營,接下來就看他的表演,大家可以看一看他的成績單。


 

   

New Auto

 

Auto Policies

 

Years

 

 

Policies(1)(2)

In-Force(1)

1993

 

346,882

 

2,011,055

 

1994

 

384,217

 

2,147,549

 

1995

 

443,539

 

2,310,037

 

1996

 

592,300

 

2,543,699

 

1997

 

868,430

 

2,949,439

 

1998

 

1,249,875

 

3,562,644

 

1999

 

1,648,095

 

4,328,900

 

 

  1. "Voluntary" only; excludes assigned risks and the like.
  2. (2) Revised to exclude policies moved from one GEICO company to another.

   In 1995, GEICO spent $33 million on marketing and had 652
telephone counselors. Last year the company spent $242 million, and
the counselor count grew to 2,631. And we are just starting: The pace
will step up materially in 2000. Indeed, we would happily commit $1
billion annually to marketing if we knew we could handle the business
smoothly and if we expected the last dollar spent to produce new
business at an attractive cost.

1995年,蓋可花了3,300萬美元在行銷活動之上,旗下擁有652位電話諮詢
顧問,去年公司預算提高為2.42億美元,諮詢顧問的人數增加為2,631位,這
還只是剛起步而已,展望2000年還會大幅的成長,行銷預算預計會突破10億
美元,只要我們確認每一塊錢都花在刀口之上,同時自信有能力順利處理蜂擁而
至的生意。

 Currently two trends are affecting acquisition costs. The bad news is
that it has become more expensive to develop inquiries. Media rates
have risen, and we are also seeing diminishing returns -- that is, as
both we and our competitors step up advertising, inquiries per ad fall
for all of us. These negatives are partly offset, however, by the fact that
our closure ratio -- the percentage of inquiries converted to sales --
has steadily improved. Overall, we believe that our cost of new business,
though definitely rising, is well below that of the industry. Of even
greater importance, our operating costs for renewal business are the
lowest among broad-based national auto insurers. Both of these major
competitive advantages are sustainable. Others may copy our model,
but they will be unable to replicate our economics.

就目前而言,有兩項因素會影響到保單取得成本,不利的是現在每增加一通詢問
電話的單位成本比過去大大提高,媒體曝光率雖然增加,但詢問的回應卻相對減
少,也就是說在我們與競爭對手同時卯足全力加強宣傳時,每家業者每段廣告所
貢獻的詢問電話也同步遞減,所幸這種負面效果因為我們成交率(每通詢問電話
真正成交的比率)穩定地增加而減少,總的來說,我們新保單的取得成本雖然增
加,但還是遠低於同業的水準,而更重要的是,我們續約保單的營運成本更是全
美保險業者當中最低的,這兩項極重要的競爭優勢應該可以繼續維持下去,別人
或許可以抄襲我們的營運模式,但他們絕對沒有辦法複製我們的經濟規模。

The table above makes it appear that GEICO's retention of policyholders
is falling, but for two reasons appearances are in this case deceiving.
First, in the last few years our business mix has moved away from
"preferred" policyholders, for whom industrywide retention rates are
high, toward "standard" and "non-standard" policyholders for whom
retention rates are much lower. (Despite the nomenclature, the three
classes have similar profit prospects.) Second, retention rates for
relatively new policyholders are always lower than those for long-time
customers -- and because of our accelerated growth, our policyholder
ranks now include an increased proportion of new customers. Adjusted
for these two factors, our retention rate has changed hardly at all.


上表顯示GEICO的保單續約率正在下降當中,這其中有兩個原因造成此種假
象,第一,過去幾年來,我們的產品組合重心已從原先續約率本來就比較高的指
定保戶,轉成續約率普遍比較低的標準與非標準保戶,(雖然名稱不同,但三者
的獲利水準差異不大),第二,新保戶的續約率通常都比長期保戶的續約率來得
低許多,而因為近年來我們的業務成長快速,所以新保戶的比重相對提高,在扣
除這兩項因素之後,我們的續約率其實變化不大。

We told you last year that underwriting margins for both GEICO and the
industry would fall in 1999, and they did. We make a similar prediction
for 2000. A few years ago margins got too wide, having enjoyed the
effects of an unusual and unexpected decrease in the frequency and
severity of accidents. The industry responded by reducing rates -- but
now is having to contend with an increase in loss costs. We would not be
surprised to see the margins of auto insurers deteriorate by around
three percentage points in 2000.

去年我就曾向各位表示1999年 GEICO以及整個保險業界的承保利潤率將會下
滑,事後證明確是如此,過去幾年來由於意外發生的頻率與嚴重性出乎意料的
低,所以整個業界得以享有不錯的利潤率,而業者也因此陸續反應調降費率,只
是好景不常,最近損失又有逐步上揚的趨勢,所以要是2000年的承保利潤率再
下滑3個百分點的話,我們一點都不會感到意外。

Two negatives besides worsening frequency and severity will hurt the
industry this year. First, rate increases go into effect only slowly, both
because of regulatory delay and because insurance contracts must run
their course before new rates can be put in. Second, reported earnings
of many auto insurers have benefitted in the last few years from reserve
releases, made possible because the companies overestimated their
loss costs in still-earlier years. This reservoir of redundant reserves has
now largely dried up, and future boosts to earnings from this source will
be minor at best.

除此之外保險業還有兩項因素可能使得意外發生的頻率與程度加劇而受到傷
害,第一是費率的反應通常需要一段時間,一方面是法律規範的限制,一方面是
新費率要等到舊合約到期後才能開始實施,第二,許多保險同業由於幾年來損失
成本普遍高估,所以損失準備回沖的結果,使得財務報表上盈餘看起來還不錯,
不過這些額外多出來的準備已損耗的差不多了,後續能夠支撐盈餘數字的準備數
量將極其有限。

In compensating its associates -- from Tony on down -- GEICO
continues to use two variables, and only two, in determining what
bonuses and profit-sharing contributions will be: 1) its percentage
growth in policyholders and 2) the earnings of its "seasoned" business,
meaning policies that have been with us for more than a year. We did
outstandingly well on both fronts during 1999 and therefore made a
profit-sharing payment of 28.4% of salary (in total, $113.3 million) to
the great majority of our associates. Tony and I love writing those
checks.

為了慰勞同仁們的辛勞,從Tony以降,GEICO都利用兩項,惟二的兩項數據
當作評估績效與獎金分紅的標準,1)是保費收入增長的比率;2)是續約保戶(泛
指投保超過一年的客戶)的承保獲利表現,1999這年兩項數字都十分優異,因此
我們加發了相當於28.4%年薪的獎金(金額合計1.133億美元)給公司所有的同
仁,Tony跟我一向很樂意簽發這類支票。

At Berkshire, we want to have compensation policies that are both easy
to understand and in sync with what we wish our associates to
accomplish. Writing new business is expensive (and, as mentioned,
getting more expensive). If we were to include those costs in our
calculation of bonuses -- as managements did before our arrival at
GEICO -- we would be penalizing our associates for garnering new
policies, even though these are very much in Berkshire's interest. So, in
effect, we say to our associates that we will foot the bill for new
business. Indeed, because percentage growth in policyholders is part of
our compensation scheme, we reward our associates for producing this
initially-unprofitable business. And then we reward them additionally
for holding down costs on our seasoned business.

在Berkshire,我們希望獎勵規定不但明瞭易懂,且與我們希望同仁努力完成的
目標方向一致,簽發新保單的成本相當的高(而且如同剛剛提到的,還有越來越
貴的趨勢),也因此如果將這部份的成本列入計算獎金的公式當中,這正是我們
在入主GEICO前公司經營階層的做法,此舉無異讓員工認為取得新保單是對他
們的一種變相懲罰,雖然這明明對Berkshire來說是很有益處的一件事,所以我
們站出來告訴員工,請大家放心公司會為新保單所付出的成本買單,甚且把保戶
成長率也當作是獎勵公式的一部份,同仁得以因為這類新增加但不賺錢的保單而
獲得獎勵,當然要是有人能夠降低續約保戶維持成本的,同樣也能獲得獎勵。

Despite the extensive advertising we do, our best source of new
business is word-of-mouth recommendations from existing
policyholders, who on the whole are pleased with our prices and service.
An article published last year by Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine
gives a good picture of where we stand in customer satisfaction: The
magazine's survey of 20 state insurance departments showed that
GEICO's complaint ratio was well below the ratio for most of its major
competitors.

雖然我們大舉投入廣告活動,但我們新保單的主要來源還是來自於原來保戶的口
耳相傳,因為他們對於我們的服務與價格感到滿意而向其他人推薦,去年私人理
財雜誌Kiplinger曾經發表一篇文章,貼切的說明GEICO在消費者心中滿意的
程度,該雜誌總計在訪問了20個州立保險部門後發現,GEICO的申訴比率最
低,而且遠低於主要競爭同業的平均數。

Our strong referral business means that we probably could maintain our
policy count by spending as little as $50 million annually on advertising.
That's a guess, of course, and we will never know whether it is accurate
because Tony's foot is going to stay on the advertising pedal (and my
foot will be on his). Nevertheless, I want to emphasize that a major
percentage of the $300-$350 million we will spend in 2000 on
advertising, as well as large additional costs we will incur for sales
counselors, communications and facilities, are optional outlays we
choose to make so that we can both achieve significant growth and
extend and solidify the promise of the GEICO brand in the minds of
Americans.

由於我們已建立了不錯的口碑,所以很有可能我們每年只要花5,000萬美元的
廣告費就可以維持既有的保單數量,但那僅僅是大膽的猜測,永遠沒有人知道其
正確性,因為Tony仍然會持續地踩著強力廣告的油門,(而我也會插一腳),不
過有一點我必須要強調的是,在2000年的3億到3.5億廣告預算以及更多投
資在銷售顧問、通訊設備等花費當中,有絕大部份並非必要支出,但我們之所以
仍然願意投入,主要就是希望在提升保費收入成長的同時,還能維持甚至加強美
國人心目中GEICO對於承諾付諸實現的形象。

Personally, I think these expenditures are the best investment Berkshire
can make. Through its advertising, GEICO is acquiring a direct
relationship with a huge number of households that, on average, will
send us $1,100 year after year. That makes us -- among all companies,
selling whatever kind of product -- one of the country's leading direct
merchandisers. Also, as we build our long-term relationships with more
and more families, cash is pouring in rather than going out (no Internet
economics here). Last year, as GEICO increased its customer base by
766,256, it gained $590 million of cash from operating earnings and
the increase in float.

就我個人觀點而言,我認為這是Berkshire能夠做的最好投資,經由大量廣告,
GEICO可以直接與更多的美國家庭建立起直接的關係,年復一年每個家庭平均
提供1,100美元的資金給我們運用,這使得我們在眾多銷售各式各樣產品的公
司當中,成為全美最暢銷的直銷產品之一,而隨著我們與更多的美國家庭建立起
長期的關係,現金更將源源不絕的流入(在這裡完全不靠網路),去年隨著GEICO
的客戶數量增加到766,256人,包含營業利潤以及浮存金增加就貢獻了5.9億
美元的資金。

In the past three years, we have increased our market share in personal
auto insurance from 2.7% to 4.1%. But we rightfully belong in many
more households -- maybe even yours. Give us a call and find out.
About 40% of those people checking our rates find that they can save
money by doing business with us. The proportion is not 100% because
insurers differ in their underwriting judgments, with some giving more
credit than we do to drivers who live in certain geographic areas or work
at certain occupations. Our closure rate indicates, however, that we
more frequently offer the low price than does any other national carrier
selling insurance to all comers. Furthermore, in 40 states we can offer a
special discount -- usually 8% -- to our shareholders. Just be sure to
identify yourself as a Berkshire owner so that our sales counselor can
make the appropriate adjustment.

過去三年以來,我們在汽車保險的佔有率從原先的2.7%提高到4.1%,無疑地我
們屬於全美許多家庭的,甚至可能是你們家的,打個電話給我們試看看,大約有
四成的人在看過我們的費率之後,會發現可以為他們省下一大筆錢,(我只所以
沒說100%的原因在於,每家保險業者對於風險的估計都不同,有些保險公司對
於居住於某些特定地區的居民與從事某些特定職業的客戶有偏好,不過我仍然堅
信我們提供給一般民眾的費率通常都低於其他全國性的業者,在隨年報附贈的
GEICO資料中,大家將可以看到我們提供給來自全美40州股東最高8%的折扣
費率,至於其他州的股東也接受開放申請取得不等的折扣。

* * * * * * * * * * * *

 

It's with sadness that I report to you that Lorimer Davidson, GEICO's
former Chairman, died last November, a few days after his 97th birthday.
For GEICO, Davy was a business giant who moved the company up to the
big leagues. For me, he was a friend, teacher and hero. I have told you of
his lifelong kindnesses to me in past reports. Clearly, my life would have
developed far differently had he not been a part of it. Tony, Lou Simpson
and I visited Davy in August and marveled at his mental alertness --
particularly in all matters regarding GEICO. He was the company's
number one supporter right up to the end, and we will forever miss him.


在這裡很遺憾地向各位報告, GEICO前董事長-Lorimer Davidson,於去年十
一月去世,享年97歲,對於GEICO來說,大衛是帶領公司躍上檯面的企業巨
人,而對我個人來說,他是我的偶像,亦師亦友,在過去年度的報告中,我不只
一次的提到他對我個人的關照,很顯然的要是沒有他,我個人的一生可能要完全
改觀,Tony、Lou Simpson與我在去年八月還曾經去拜訪他,對於他當時的記
憶力還佩服不已,尤其是有關GEICO的點點滴滴,一直以來,他就是GEICO公
司的頭號支持者,我們將會永遠地懷念他。

Aviation Services
航空服務業

Our two aviation services companies -- FlightSafety International ("FSI")
and Executive Jet Aviation ("EJA") -- are both runaway leaders in their
field. EJA, which sells and manages the fractional ownership of jet
aircraft, through its NetJetsR program, is larger than its next two
competitors combined. FSI trains pilots (as well as other transportation
professionals) and is five times or so the size of its nearest competitor.

我們旗下兩家航空服務公司-國際飛安(FSI)以及企業主管飛行服務(EJA)都是各
自產業的領導者,EJA所推出的NetJets計畫,專門出售並為客戶管理其擁有的
專機部份所有權,目前的佔有率超過其他兩家主要競爭業者的總和,FSI則專門
訓練機師(也包含其他專門運輸人員),其規模是其他最大競爭業者的五倍。

Another common characteristic of the companies is that they are still
managed by their founding entrepreneurs. Al Ueltschi started FSI in
1951 with $10,000, and Rich Santulli invented the fractional-ownership
industry in 1986. These men are both remarkable managers who have
no financial need to work but thrive on helping their companies grow
and excel.

這些公司另外還有一項特點就是到目前為止,都還是由原來的創辦人在經營,Al
Ueltschi在1951年以10,000美元創立FSI,而Rich Santulli則是在1986
年開創部份所有權事業,這兩位都是相當傑出的企業家,目前他們早已不需要為
了錢而工作,不過現在依然在自己的崗位上兢兢業業地讓自己創立的公司繼續發
揚光大。

Though these two businesses have leadership positions that are similar,
they differ in their economic characteristics. FSI must lay out huge
amounts of capital. A single flight simulator can cost as much as $15
million -- and we have 222. Only one person at a time, furthermore, can
be trained in a simulator, which means that the capital investment per
dollar of revenue at FSI is exceptionally high. Operating margins must
therefore also be high, if we are to earn a reasonable return on capital.
Last year we made capital expenditures of $215 million at FSI and
FlightSafety Boeing, its 50%-owned affiliate.

雖然兩家公司所領導的產業相當類似,但卻有很不相同的競爭形態,FSI需要相
當密集的資本,光是一台飛行模擬器就要耗資1,500萬,現在我們擁有222台,
而且每一台模擬器,一次只能訓練一位飛行員,這意味著每一元營收所要投入的
資本支出相當的高,也因此要維持一定的投資報酬,營業毛利一定要夠高,去年
FSI與其持股50%的國際飛安-波音的資本支出達2.15億美元。

At EJA, in contrast, the customer owns the equipment, though we, of
course, must invest in a core fleet of our own planes to ensure
outstanding service. For example, the Sunday after Thanksgiving, EJA's
busiest day of the year, strains our resources since fractions of 169
planes are owned by 1,412 customers, many of whom are bent on flying
home between 3 and 6 p.m. On that day, and certain others, we need a
supply of company-owned aircraft to make sure all parties get where
they want, when they want.

相對的由於EJA的設備所有權屬於客戶,當然我們也必須投資一部份資金取得核
心機隊的所有權以維持高檔的服務水準,舉例來說,在EJA每年最忙碌的感恩節
後的那個星期天,簡直就把我們給忙壞了,由於169架飛機分別屬於1,412位
所有權人,許多人都想要在當天下午三點到六點使用飛機,所以我們絕對有必要
準備額外自有的飛機,好讓每個客人在任何時候到達任何他想要到的地方。

 Still, most of the planes we fly are owned by customers, which means
that modest pre-tax margins in this business can produce good returns
on equity. Currently, our customers own planes worth over $2 billion,
and in addition we have $4.2 billion of planes on order. Indeed, the
limiting factor in our business right now is the availability of planes. We
now are taking delivery of about 8% of all business jets manufactured in
the world, and we wish we could get a bigger share than that. Though
EJA was supply-constrained in 1999, its recurring revenues -- monthly
management fees plus hourly flight fees -- increased 46%.

當然大部分的飛機還是屬於客戶所有,意思是說在這行只要有合理的稅前毛利,
股東的投資報酬就相當可觀,現在我們客戶擁有的飛機價值超過20億美元,後
續我們陸續又下了許多飛機訂單,金額總計42億美元,確實目前限制公司營運
成長的主要因素就在於飛機數量,現在我們的訂單約佔全世界飛機製造交貨量的
8%,我們希望能夠再提高這個比重,雖然EJA在1999年增加的供給量有限,
但其固定的營收,也就是客戶每個月固定按飛行時數繳交的管理費仍然成長了
46%。

 The fractional-ownership industry is still in its infancy. EJA is now
building critical mass in Europe, and over time we will expand around
the world. Doing that will be expensive -- very expensive -- but we will
spend what it takes. Scale is vital to both us and our customers: The
company with the most planes in the air worldwide will be able to offer
its customers the best service. "Buy a fraction, get a fleet" has real
meaning at EJA.

專機所有權的產業還在剛起步的階段,EJA目前在歐洲尚在累積經濟規模當中,
長期而言我們將計畫進軍全世界的市場,當然要這樣做,必須再投入相當大的資
本,相當相當的大,不過只要值得,我們都願意,對於我們與客戶而言,規模經
濟是最關鍵的因素,只有在全世界各地擁有最多飛機的公司才能提供給客戶最好
的服務,"買下部份所有權,你就能擁有全部的機隊",在EJA將不只是個夢。

EJA enjoys another important advantage in that its two largest
competitors are both subsidiaries of aircraft manufacturers and sell only
the aircraft their parents make. Though these are fine planes, these
competitors are severely limited in the cabin styles and mission
capabilities they can offer. EJA, in contrast, offers a wide array of planes
from five suppliers. Consequently, we can give the customer whatever
he needs to buy -- rather than his getting what the competitor's parent
needs to sell.

EJA還享有另外一個非常重要的優勢,那就是它的兩家主要競爭對手都只是國際
飛機製造業者的子公司,所以它們被迫只能提供母公司製造的飛機,雖然這些都
是好飛機,但競爭對手卻因此大大受限於機艙形式以及能夠提供的機種用途,相
較之下,EJA則能夠提供由全世界五大飛機製造公司所生產的全系列飛機,所以
我們可以給客戶任何他想要的飛機形式,而不是被動接受其母公司的飛機。

Last year in this report, I described my family's delight with the one-
quarter (200 flight hours annually) of a Hawker 1000 that we had owned
since 1995. I got so pumped up by my own prose that shortly thereafter
I signed up for one-sixteenth of a Cessna V Ultra as well. Now my
annual outlays at EJA and Borsheim's, combined, total ten times my
salary. Think of this as a rough guideline for your own expenditures
with us.

去年在年報當中,我曾經形容我的家族自從1995年來買下四分之一的(也就是
每年200小時)的霍克1000型飛機所有權的愉快經驗,不久之後,我又再接再
厲簽約買下一架Cessna V Ultra型六分之一的所有權,現在每年我在EJA以及
波仙珠寶的花費大概是我年薪的十倍,如此大家可以據此推算你可以負擔的底限
在哪裡。
During the past year, two of Berkshire's outside directors have also
signed on with EJA. (Maybe we're paying them too much.) You should be
aware that they and I are charged exactly the same price for planes and
service as is any other customer: EJA follows a "most favored nations"
policy, with no one getting a special deal.

去年,Berkshire有兩位外部董事也與EJA簽約買下部份所有權,(可見我們付
給他們的酬勞過高),我可以向大家保證我們付出的價格與得到的服務和其他客
戶並無二致,在EJA我們推行"最惠國待遇"政策,沒有人可以得到特別的對待。

And now, brace yourself. Last year, EJA passed the ultimate test: Charlie
signed up. No other endorsement could speak more eloquently to the
value of the EJA service. Give us a call at 1-800-848-6436 and ask for
our "white paper" on fractional ownership.
現在趕快加入我們的行列吧!因為EJA已經通過最嚴格的考驗,連查理都已經簽
約了,再也沒有比這個更能說明EJA提供的服務所代表的價值,記得打電話1-
800-848-6436索取申請部份所有權的表格。

Acquisitions of 1999
1999年的購併活動


At both GEICO and Executive Jet, our best source of new customers is
the happy ones we already have. Indeed, about 65% of our new owners
of aircraft come as referrals from current owners who have fallen in love
with the service.

不管是GEICO或者是EJA,我們新客戶的來源主要還是來自於現有客戶的介紹,
事實上,在專機部份所有權計畫中有65%的新客戶是來自於現有滿意公司服務
的老客戶所推介。

Our acquisitions usually develop in the same way. At other companies,
executives may devote themselves to pursuing acquisition possibilities
with investment bankers, utilizing an auction process that has become
standardized. In this exercise the bankers prepare a "book" that makes
me think of the Superman comics of my youth. In the Wall Street version,
a formerly mild-mannered company emerges from the investment
banker's phone booth able to leap over competitors in a single bound
and with earnings moving faster than a speeding bullet. Titillated by the
book's description of the acquiree's powers, acquisition-hungry CEOs
-- Lois Lanes all, beneath their cool exteriors -- promptly swoon.

我們的購併行動發生的形態一向很類似,在別的公司,高階主管通常親自與投資
銀行家一起尋求可能的購併機會,所運用的拍賣程序相當制式化,在過程中銀行
業者準備的帳冊讓我想到童年時代讀到的"超人"漫畫,只不過在華爾街版,換成
一家本來平淡無奇的公司進到了銀行業者特地準備的電話亭後,搖身一變成了一
躍升天,盈餘成長飛快的超人,而抵擋不住賣方帳冊所敘述的神力,購併案饑渴
成痴的買方,就像是具有冷艷外表的露易絲,立刻融化在其膝下。

What's particularly entertaining in these books is the precision with
which earnings are projected for many years ahead. If you ask the
author-banker, however, what his own firm will earn next month, he will
go into a protective crouch and tell you that business and markets are
far too uncertain for him to venture a forecast.

而在這其中最有趣的是,這些資料所顯示未來幾年的盈餘預測都相當明確,不過
要是你問問編造這些報表的銀行業者,他們自己銀行下個月的盈餘預估,他會馬
上露出警戒的神色告訴你,產業與市場的狀況是如何變化多端,以致於他無法妄
下定論。

Here's one story I can't resist relating: In 1985, a major investment
banking house undertook to sell Scott Fetzer, offering it widely -- but
with no success. Upon reading of this strikeout, I wrote Ralph Schey,
then and now Scott Fetzer's CEO, expressing an interest in buying the
business. I had never met Ralph, but within a week we had a deal.
Unfortunately, Scott Fetzer's letter of engagement with the banking firm
provided it a $2.5 million fee upon sale, even if it had nothing to do with
finding the buyer. I guess the lead banker felt he should do something
for his payment, so he graciously offered us a copy of the book on Scott
Fetzer that his firm had prepared. With his customary tact, Charlie
responded: "I'll pay $2.5 million not to read it."

以下有一則故事我忍不住想補充,故事發生在1985年,有一家非常大的投資銀
行受委託負責出售史考特-飛茲公司,然而在經過多方的推銷後卻仍無功而返,
在得知這樣的情況後,我立即寫信給史考特-飛茲當時的總裁-Ralph Schey表
達買下該公司的意願,在這之前我從來沒有與Ralph見過面,不過在一個禮拜
之內我們便達成協議,可惜令人遺憾的是,在該公司與投資銀行所簽訂的意向書
中明訂,一旦公司順利找到買主便須支付250萬美元給銀行,即便最後的買主
與該銀行無關也要照付,事後我猜想,或許是該銀行認為既然拿了錢,多少都應
該辦點事,所以他們好心地將先前準備的財務資料提供一份給我們,收到這樣的
禮物時,查理冷冷地回應說:「我寧願再多付250萬美元也不要看這些垃圾。」

At Berkshire, our carefully-crafted acquisition strategy is simply to wait
for the phone to ring. Happily, it sometimes does so, usually because a
manager who sold to us earlier has recommended to a friend that he
think about following suit.
在Berkshire,我們精心設計的購併策略很簡單-就是靜靜地等待電話鈴響,可
喜的是,有時還真管用,通常是先前加入我們集團的經理人,甲好道休報,建議
其周遭的好朋友可以如法炮製。

Which brings us to the furniture business. Two years ago I recounted
how the acquisition of Nebraska Furniture Mart in 1983 and my
subsequent association with the Blumkin family led to follow-on
transactions with R. C. Willey (1995) and Star Furniture (1997). For me,
these relationships have all been terrific. Not only did Berkshire acquire
three outstanding retailers; these deals also allowed me to become
friends with some of the finest people you will ever meet.


在這裡我不免要提到我們的傢具事業,兩年前我回想到當初在1983年我是如何
買下內布拉斯加傢具店,以及如何透過B太太家族與R.C.威利傢具(1995年)及
星辰傢具(1997年)結緣的經過,就我個人而言,這些經驗實在是棒極了,
Berkshire不但得到了三家傑出的零售事業,同時也讓我得以認識全天下最好的
朋友。

Naturally, I have persistently asked the Blumkins, Bill Child and Melvyn
Wolff whether there are any more out there like you. Their invariable
answer was the Tatelman brothers of New England and their remarkable
furniture business, Jordan's.

因此自然而然地,我就不斷地詢問B太太家族、Bill及Melvyn身旁有沒有像你
們一樣好的人,他們異口同聲的回答都是住在新英格蘭州的Tatelman兄弟,以
及他們優秀的事業-喬丹傢具。

I met Barry and Eliot Tatelman last year and we soon signed an
agreement for Berkshire to acquire the company. Like our three
previous furniture acquisitions, this business had long been in the
family -- in this case since 1927, when Barry and Eliot's grandfather
began operations in a Boston suburb. Under the brothers' management,
Jordan's has grown ever more dominant in its region, becoming the
largest furniture retailer in New Hampshire as well as Massachusetts.


終於在去年我見到了Tatelman兄弟-Barry以及Eliot,很快地我們就簽下由
Berkshire買下喬丹傢具的契約,如同先前的三次購併案,這也是一家家族企
業,時間要追溯至1927年,當時由兩兄弟的祖父在波士頓市郊創立,之後在兩
兄弟戮力經營下,不但成為當地傢具業的龍頭,更進一步躍升為新罕布夏州以及
麻州最大的傢具零售店。

The Tatelmans don't just sell furniture or manage stores. They also
present customers with a dazzling entertainment experience called
"shoppertainment." A family visiting a store can have a terrific time,
while concurrently viewing an extraordinary selection of merchandise.
The business results are also extraordinary: Jordan's has the highest
sales per square foot of any major furniture operation in the country. I
urge you to visit one of their stores if you are in the Boston area --
particularly the one at Natick, which is Jordan's newest. Bring money.

Tatelman兄弟不光只是販賣傢具或者是管理店面,他們還提供上門的顧客一種
全新的消費經驗,他們稱之為"血拼秀",閤家光顧的客人不但可以見到各式各樣
的商品,同時還可享受一段愉快的時光,這樣的經營成果無疑讓人印象深刻,喬
丹傢具擁有全美每平方英吋最高的營業額,如果你家住在波士頓地區,衷心建議
你可上門看一看,尤其是位於Natick新開幕的那一家,記得要帶錢!

Barry and Eliot are classy people -- just like their counterparts at
Berkshire's three other furniture operations. When they sold to us, they
elected to give each of their employees at least 50¢ for every hour that
he or she had worked for Jordan's. This payment added up to $9 million,
which came from the Tatelmans' own pockets, not from Berkshire's. And
Barry and Eliot were thrilled to write the checks.

Barry與Eliot堪稱為謙謙君子,就像是Berkshire旗下其他三家傢具店一樣,
當他們順利把公司賣給Berkshire之後,他們決定至少為店裡的每位員工加發每
小時50美分,乘以他們在該店任職時間的薪水,總計最後的金額是900萬美
元,全部由兩兄弟個人而不是Berkshire的口袋支應,記得當時兩兄弟在簽支票
時手還會發抖。

Each of our furniture operations is number one in its territory. We now
sell more furniture than anyone else in Massachusetts, New Hampshire,
Texas, Nebraska, Utah and Idaho. Last year Star's Melvyn Wolff and his
sister, Shirley Toomim, scored two major successes: a move into San
Antonio and a significant enlargement of Star's store in Austin.

我們旗下每一家傢具店都是當地首屈一指的業者,目前我們在麻州、新罕布夏
州、德州、內布拉斯加州、猶它州以及愛達荷州等地的市場佔有率都是第一,去
年星辰傢具的Melvyn連同他姊姊Shirly又再下兩城,成功在聖安東尼奧以及奧
斯丁大展身手。

There's no operation in the furniture retailing business remotely like the
one assembled by Berkshire. It's fun for me and profitable for you. W. C.
Fields once said, "It was a woman who drove me to drink, but
unfortunately I never had the chance to thank her." I don't want to make
that mistake. My thanks go to Louie, Ron and Irv Blumkin for getting me
started in the furniture business and for unerringly guiding me as we
have assembled the group we now have.


世上沒有一家傢具業的經營能夠像Berkshire一樣,這是我個人的樂趣,也是各
位獲利的關鍵所在,W.C. Fields曾經說過:「是女人讓我沈於酒國,可惜我從
來沒有機會得以好好地謝謝她」,我不想犯下相同的錯誤,在此我要感謝Louie、
Ron、Irv等人,是他們讓我得以與傢具業結緣,而且毫無猶疑地引導我組成現
今的夢幻組合。

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Now, for our second acquisition deal: It came to us through my good
friend, Walter Scott, Jr., chairman of Level 3 Communications and a
director of Berkshire. Walter has many other business connections as
well, and one of them is with MidAmerican Energy, a utility company in
which he has substantial holdings and on whose board he sits. At a
conference in California that we both attended last September, Walter
casually asked me whether Berkshire might be interested in making a
large investment in MidAmerican, and from the start the idea of being in
partnership with Walter struck me as a good one. Upon returning to
Omaha, I read some of MidAmerican's public reports and had two short
meetings with Walter and David Sokol, MidAmerican's talented and
entrepreneurial CEO. I then said that, at an appropriate price, we would
indeed like to make a deal.

接下去要報告的是第二個購併案,這件案子係透過我多年的好朋友,Level 3 通
訊公司董事長,同時也是Berkshire董事-Walter Scott牽線而成,Walter個人
也擁有相當多的人脈,其中他在一家能源事業-中美能源公司擁有相當多的股
份,同時也擔任該公司的董事,去年九月我們共同出席一場在加州舉行的研討
會,Walter不經意地問我是否有興趣投資中美能源公司,在當時我就直覺地認
為這應該是一個很好的主意,回到奧瑪哈之後,我看了一下中美能源的相關資
料,並與Walter及中美能源才能兼具的總裁David Sokol短暫地見了兩次面,
當場我就表示,只要價位合適,我想成交的可能性很高。

Acquisitions in the electric utility industry are complicated by a variety
of regulations including the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935.
Therefore, we had to structure a transaction that would avoid Berkshire
gaining voting control. Instead we are purchasing an 11% fixed-income
security, along with a combination of common stock and exchangeable
preferred that will give Berkshire just under 10% of the voting power of
MidAmerican but about 76% of the equity interest. All told, our
investment will be about $2 billion.

購併電力能源事業由於牽涉到包含1935年訂定的公用事業控股公司法在內的
各種行政法規而顯得有些複雜,因此我們必須設計一個交易,以避免Berkshire
取得多數的控制權,最後決定由我們出資購買11%固定收益的證券,加上部份
普通股與可轉換特別股的特殊組合,把Berkshire對中美能源的表決權壓在10%
以下,同時又能持有該公司76%的權益,總計全部加起來的投資金額超過20億
美元。

Walter characteristically backed up his convictions with real money: He
and his family will buy more MidAmerican stock for cash when the
transaction closes, bringing their total investment to about $280
million. Walter will also be the controlling shareholder of the company,
and I can't think of a better person to hold that post.

而Walter也以具體的行動來支持這項合併案,他與他的家人同樣投入了大筆的
資金買進更多的中美能源股份,累計投資的金額超過2.8億美元,這使得他成為
擁有該公司控制權的大股東,我想再也找不到比他更適合這個職位的人了。

Though there are many regulatory constraints in the utility industry, it's
possible that we will make additional commitments in the field. If we do,
the amounts involved could be large.

雖然在能源事業有許多法規的限制,但我們極有可能在這個產業投入更多的資
金,如果真的實行,這個數字鐵定十分可觀。

Acquisition Accounting
購併案的會計處理

Once again, I would like to make some comments about accounting, in
this case about its application to acquisitions. This is currently a very
contentious topic and, before the dust settles, Congress may even
intervene (a truly terrible idea).

再一次,我要對會計原則發表一些看法,這次是有關購併案的會計應用,到目前
為止,這也是一項爭議性相當高的議題,在所有事件塵埃落定以前,甚至連國會
議員都有可能會介入干涉(這聽起來令人感到不寒而慄)。

When a company is acquired, generally accepted accounting principles
("GAAP") currently condone two very different ways of recording the
transaction: "purchase" and "pooling." In a pooling, stock must be the
currency; in a purchase, payment can be made in either cash or stock.
Whatever the currency, managements usually detest purchase
accounting because it almost always requires that a "goodwill" account
be established and subsequently written off -- a process that saddles
earnings with a large annual charge that normally persists for decades.
In contrast, pooling avoids a goodwill account, which is why
managements love it.

當一家公司被購併,通常一般公認會計原則(GAAP)容許兩種截然不同的會計處
理方法:一種是購買法;另一種是權益合併法,要運用權益合併法,交易的標的
必須是股票,至於購買法則使用現金或股票皆可,但不論如何,管理階層通常很
排斥使用購買法,因為在大多數的情況下,公司的會計帳上會因此多出一項叫做
"商譽"的會計科目,而此商譽日後還要分年攤銷,意思是說在合併完成後,公司
每年都要提列一筆為數龐大的商譽攤銷費用列為損益數字的減項,而且時間可能
長達數十年,相對地,權益合併法就沒有這樣的麻煩,可想而知這種方法廣受一
般高階經理人的歡迎。

Now, the Financial Accounting Standards Board ("FASB") has proposed
an end to pooling, and many CEOs are girding for battle. It will be an
important fight, so we'll venture some opinions. To begin with, we agree
with the many managers who argue that goodwill amortization charges
are usually spurious. You'll find my thinking about this in the appendix
to our 1983 annual report, which is available on our website, and in the
Owner's Manual on pages 55 - 62.

如今財務會計準則委員會(FASB)有意取消權益合併法之運用,此舉讓許多高階經
理人為之跳腳而群起反對,可以預見雙方將會有一場激烈的紛爭,為此我們必須
站出來發表個人的意見,首先我們同意許多經理人認為商譽攤銷根本就不切實際
的說法,大家可以在1983年年報的附錄(已公佈於本公司網站)以及股東手冊
55-62頁,找到我個人對這件事的看法。

For accounting rules to mandate amortization that will, in the usual
case, conflict with reality is deeply troublesome: Most accounting
charges relate to what's going on, even if they don't precisely measure
it. As an example, depreciation charges can't with precision calibrate the
decline in value that physical assets suffer, but these charges do at least
describe something that is truly occurring: Physical assets invariably
deteriorate. Correspondingly, obsolescence charges for inventories,
bad debt charges for receivables and accruals for warranties are among
the charges that reflect true costs. The annual charges for these
expenses can't be exactly measured, but the necessity for estimating
them is obvious.

對於強制規定攤銷的會計原則,通常導致與現實嚴重不符,從而引發相當麻煩的
問題,因為大部分的會計原則雖然無法準確地反應出實際狀況,但最起碼差異不
大,舉個例子來說,折舊費用的提列雖然無法完全地反映出實體資產價值減損的
真實情況,但這種做法至少與現實發展的方向相一致,實體資產本來就必然會逐
漸減損,同樣的存貨提列跌價損失、應收帳款提列呆帳費用以及保固責任提列準
備都是反映潛在成本的合理做法,雖然這些費用成本難以準確的計算出來,但確
實也有加以估計的必要。

In contrast, economic goodwill does not, in many cases, diminish.
Indeed, in a great many instances -- perhaps most -- it actually grows
in value over time. In character, economic goodwill is much like land:
The value of both assets is sure to fluctuate, but the direction in which
value is going to go is in no way ordained. At See's, for example,
economic goodwill has grown, in an irregular but very substantial
manner, for 78 years. And, if we run the business right, growth of that
kind will probably continue for at least another 78 years.

但相對的,經濟商譽在許多情況下,並不會減損或消失,事實上在大部分的案例
中,商譽不但不減反而會隨著時間的累積而增加,在某些特質上,經濟商譽反而
類似土地,兩者的價值都會上下波動,但何時會增加,何時又會減少卻不一定,
以喜斯糖果的例子來說,在過去的78年來,其品牌價值以不規則但快速的速度
成長,而只要我們經營得當,其品牌價值增長的態勢很有可能再繼續維持78年。

To escape from the fiction of goodwill charges, managers embrace the
fiction of pooling. This accounting convention is grounded in the poetic
notion that when two rivers merge their streams become
indistinguishable. Under this concept, a company that has been merged
into a larger enterprise has not been "purchased" (even though it will
often have received a large "sell-out" premium). Consequently, no
goodwill is created, and those pesky subsequent charges to earnings
are eliminated. Instead, the accounting for the ongoing entity is handled
as if the businesses had forever been one unit.

為了避免商譽不當的攤銷,偉大的經理人們寧願選擇擁抱不當的權益合併法,這
項會計創意源自於兩條河川在匯流後就不必分彼此的概念,在這種觀念下,一家
被另一家更大公司購併的公司並不算是被"買下"的(雖然他們通常會得到相當的
合併溢價),從而推論合併的過程並沒有商譽會產生,自然而然也就沒有隨後令
人感到麻煩的商譽攤銷發生,反而應該要把這兩家公司當作一開始就是一體的來
看待。

So much for poetry. The reality of merging is usually far different: There
is indisputably an acquirer and an acquiree, and the latter has been
"purchased," no matter how the deal has been structured. If you think
otherwise, just ask employees severed from their jobs which company
was the conqueror and which was the conquered. You will find no
confusion. So on this point the FASB is correct: In most mergers, a
purchase has been made. Yes, there are some true "mergers of equals,"
but they are few and far between.

有點咬文嚼字,事實上這與合併背後所代表的事實真相卻大不相同,毫無疑問
的,既然有交易,就一定有購併方與被購併方,不管你如何修飾交易的條件細節,
一定有一方是被另一方買下,其實很簡單,只要你問問交易雙方的員工,誰是征
服者,而誰又是被征服者,就知道是怎麼一回事了,絕對不會搞混,所以從這個
角度來看,FASB的堅持絕對是正確的,在大部分的購併案中,絕對有買賣的性
質存在,當然確實也有對等的合併個案發生,但出現的機率實在是少之又少。

Charlie and I believe there's a reality-based approach that should both
satisfy the FASB, which correctly wishes to record a purchase, and meet
the objections of managements to nonsensical charges for diminution
of goodwill. We would first have the acquiring company record its
purchase price -- whether paid in stock or cash -- at fair value. In most
cases, this procedure would create a large asset representing economic
goodwill. We would then leave this asset on the books, not requiring its
amortization. Later, if the economic goodwill became impaired, as it
sometimes would, it would be written down just as would any other
asset judged to be impaired.

查理跟我始終相信應該有一個與現實相接軌的方法可以同時滿足FASB想要正確
的反應買賣交易實質的看法,以及經理人反對商譽不當攤銷的呼聲,我認為首先
購併公司應該要以公平市價認列其投資成本,不管是支付現金或是股票,當然在
大多數的情況下,公司帳上會出現大筆的經濟商譽,但我們應該讓這項資產繼續
保留在會計帳上,而不是分年攤銷,嗣後若公司的經濟商譽真得有減損的情況,
這不是沒有可能,那麼就按一般判斷資產價值是否減損的方式去評估。

If our proposed rule were to be adopted, it should be applied
retroactively so that acquisition accounting would be consistent
throughout America -- a far cry from what exists today. One prediction:
If this plan were to take effect, managements would structure
acquisitions more sensibly, deciding whether to use cash or stock based
on the real consequences for their shareholders rather than on the
unreal consequences for their reported earnings.


如果我們提出的方案獲得採用,預計將會追溯適用,以使得全美的購併會計處理
原則都一致,而不是像現在一樣亂象紛呈,可以預見的是,一旦這項方案開始施
行,經理人一定會更審慎地處理購併案,小心評估到底應該使用現金或是攸關股
東長遠利益的股票,而不光只是看合併後的會計帳面損益而已。

* * * * * * * * * * * *

In our purchase of Jordan's, we followed a procedure that will maximize
the cash produced for our shareholders but minimize the earnings we
report to you. Berkshire purchased assets for cash, an approach that on
our tax returns permits us to amortize the resulting goodwill over a
15-year period. Obviously, this tax deduction materially increases the
amount of cash delivered by the business. In contrast, when stock,
rather than assets, is purchased for cash, the resulting writeoffs of
goodwill are not tax-deductible. The economic difference between
these two approaches is substantial.

在買下喬登傢具的過程中,我們採用能夠讓Berkshire股東未來的現金流量極
大,而帳列盈餘最小的方式,為此Berkshire決定使用現金買下資產,此舉讓我
們可以在分十五年攤提商譽費用時得到租稅的抵減,而減稅的效益,等於是讓公
司未來幾年的現金流量明顯的增加,相較之下,使用股票進行購併就沒有這項好
處,一次打銷的商譽損失是無法用來抵稅的,兩者之間的經濟實質差異再明顯也
不過了。

From the economic standpoint of the acquiring company, the worst deal
of all is a stock-for-stock acquisition. Here, a huge price is often paid
without there being any step-up in the tax basis of either the stock of
the acquiree or its assets. If the acquired entity is subsequently sold, its
owner may owe a large capital gains tax (at a 35% or greater rate), even
though the sale may truly be producing a major economic loss.

從購併者的經濟角度來看,最不划算的交易方式就是以股換股的做法,不但租稅
上沒有任何好處,買方還要付出高額的購併溢價,而若買方之後再把這家公司賣
掉,即使實際上公司承擔龐大的經濟損失,賣主還是要負擔高額的資本利得稅(稅
率往往高達35%以上)。

We have made some deals at Berkshire that used far-from-optimal tax
structures. These deals occurred because the sellers insisted on a given
structure and because, overall, we still felt the acquisition made sense.
We have never done an inefficiently-structured deal, however, in order
to make our figures look better.
不過在Berkshire我們也曾用過非租稅最佳化的方式,主要的原因在於賣方基於
某種原因的堅持,當然基本上我們也認為這樣的規劃還算合理,但是我們絕對不
會因為要讓帳面數字好看而犧牲任何的租稅利益。

Sources of Reported Earnings
帳列盈餘的來源

The table that follows shows the main sources of Berkshire's reported
earnings. In this presentation, purchase-accounting adjustments are
not assigned to the specific businesses to which they apply, but are
instead aggregated and shown separately. This procedure lets you view
the earnings of our businesses as they would have been reported had
we not purchased them. For the reasons discussed on page 61, this
form of presentation seems to us to be more useful to investors and
managers than one utilizing generally accepted accounting principles
(GAAP), which require purchase-premiums to be charged off business-
by-business. The total earnings we show in the table are, of course,
identical to the GAAP total in our audited financial statements.

下表顯示Berkshire帳列盈餘的主要來源,在這張表中商譽的攤銷數與購買法會
計調整數會從個別被投資公司分離出來,單獨加總列示,之所以這樣做是為了讓
旗下各事業的盈餘狀況,不因我們的投資而有所影響,過去我一再地強調我們認
為這樣的表達方式,較之一般公認會計原則要求以個別企業基礎做調整,不管是
對投資者或是管理者來說,更有幫助,當然最後損益加總的數字仍然會與經會計
師查核的數字一致。

  

(in millions)

Berkshire's Share

of Net Earnings

(after taxes and

Pre-Tax Earnings

 

minority interests)

 

1999 1998 1999 1998

 

 

Operating Earnings:

  Insurance Group:

 

   Underwriting -- Reinsurance ....................$(1,440) $(21)$(927)$(14)

 

 

   Underwriting -- GEICO ..........................24 269 16 175

  Underwriting -- Other Primary .................22 17 14 10

 

   Net Investment Income ............................2,482 974 1,764 731

 

  Buffalo News ...........................................55 53 34 32

 

  Finance and Financial Products Businesses125 205 86 133

 

  Flight Services .........................................225 181 (1)132 110 (1)

  Home Furnishings ....................................79 (2)72 46 (2)41

 

  International Dairy Queen ........................56 58 35 35

 

  Jewelry ...................................................51 39 31 23

 

  Scott Fetzer (excluding finance operation)147 137 92 85

 See's Candies .........................................74 62 46 40

 

  Shoe Group ............................................17 33 11 23

 

  Purchase-Accounting Adjustments .........(739)(123)(648)(118)

 

  Interest Expense (3) ...............................(109)(100)(70)(63)

 Shareholder-Designated Contributions ....(17)(17)(11)(11)

 

  Other ......................................................33 60 (4)20 45 (4)

 

Operating Earnings ....................................1,085 1,899 671 1,277

Capital Gains from Investments .................1,365 2,415 886 1,553

Total Earnings - All Entities .......................$2,450 $4,314 $1,557 $ 2,830

====================

 

 

(1) Includes Executive Jet from August 7, 1998.

(3) Excludes interest expense of Finance Businesses.

(2) Includes Jordan's Furniture from November 13, 1999.

(4) Includes General Re operations for ten days in 1998.


Almost all of our manufacturing, retailing and service businesses had
excellent results in 1999. The exception was Dexter Shoe, and there the
shortfall did not occur because of managerial problems: In skills, energy
and devotion to their work, the Dexter executives are every bit the equal
of our other managers. But we manufacture shoes primarily in the U.S.,
and it has become extremely difficult for domestic producers to
compete effectively. In 1999, approximately 93% of the 1.3 billion pairs
of shoes purchased in this country came from abroad, where extremely
low-cost labor is the rule.

回顧1999年,我們旗下的製造、零售與服務業的表現幾乎接近完美,Dexter
鞋業除外,不過該公司的問題不在於經營管理,就工作上的經驗、活力與認真而
言,Dexter與其他子公司優秀的經理人毫無二致,主要的原因還在於我們的製
造據點位於美國本土,缺乏競爭優勢,總計1999年,在美國13億雙的鞋子消
耗量中,93%來自於進口,廉價的勞工成本是主要的關鍵因素。

 

Counting both Dexter and H. H. Brown, we are currently the leading
domestic manufacturer of shoes, and we are likely to continue to be. We
have loyal, highly-skilled workers in our U.S. plants, and we want to
retain every job here that we can. Nevertheless, in order to remain
viable, we are sourcing more of our output internationally. In doing that,
we have incurred significant severance and relocation costs that are
included in the earnings we show in the table.

若再加上H.H.Brown,我們是美國本土最大的鞋類生產業者,我們仍將盡力維
持這樣的局面,我們的美國工廠擁有最忠誠,且最有經驗的工人,我們希望能夠
保留每一個職位,但儘管如此,為了保持彈性,我們不得不開始從海外尋找潛在
的代工來源,也因此在下表年度帳上提列部門調整的損失。

A few years back, Helzberg's, our 200-store jewelry operation, needed
to make operating adjustments to restore margins to appropriate levels.
Under Jeff Comment's leadership, the job was done and profits have
dramatically rebounded. In the shoe business, where we have Harold
Alfond, Peter Lunder, Frank Rooney and Jim Issler in charge, I believe we
will see a similar improvement over the next few years.

幾年前,在全美擁有200家分店的賀茲柏格鑽石,為了恢復原有高毛利而在營
運上做了許多調整,在Jeff Comment的領導下,目標順利達成,利潤率快速
的回昇,同樣的在鞋業,我們擁有Harold、Peter、Frank以及Jim擔綱,我相
信在未來幾年內也能有相同的成果。

See's Candies deserves a special comment, given that it achieved a
record operating margin of 24% last year. Since we bought See's for $25
million in 1972, it has earned $857 million pre-tax. And, despite its
growth, the business has required very little additional capital. Give the
credit for this performance to Chuck Huggins. Charlie and I put him in
charge the day of our purchase, and his fanatical insistence on both
product quality and friendly service has rewarded customers,
employees and owners.

此外在這裡要特別提到喜斯糖果,因為它去年的營業利潤高達24%,自從我們
在1972年以2,500萬美元買下該公司以來,它已為我們貢獻了8.57億美元的
稅前淨利,而盡管公司營運維持高成長,本身卻不需要額外的資金加以支應,有
鑑於Chuck Huggins過去優異的表現,我們在買下該公司的第一天起就把公司
交給他負責,而他對產品品質與親切服務的堅持,讓顧客、員工與股東都受益良
多。

Chuck gets better every year. When he took charge of See's at age 46,
the company's pre-tax profit, expressed in millions, was about 10% of
his age. Today he's 74, and the ratio has increased to 100%. Having
discovered this mathematical relationship -- let's call it Huggins' Law -
- Charlie and I now become giddy at the mere thought of Chuck's
birthday.
Chuck的表現一天比一天好,記得他接手喜斯時的年紀是46歲,公司的稅前獲
利(單位百萬美元)大概是他年紀的10%,如今他高齡74歲,但這個比率卻提高
到100%,在發現這個有趣的數字之後,我們把它稱之為Huggins定律,現在
查理跟我只要想到Chuck的生日快到時,就暗自竊喜不已。

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Additional information about our various businesses is given on pages
39 - 54, where you will also find our segment earnings reported on a
GAAP basis. In addition, on pages 63 - 69, we have rearranged
Berkshire's financial data into four segments on a non-GAAP basis, a
presentation that corresponds to the way Charlie and I think about the
company.


有關其他關係企業的資訊大家可以在39-54頁找到,包含依照一般公認會計準
則編製的部門別資訊,此外在63-69頁,你還可以找到經過重編,依照Berkshire
四大部門編排的資訊(非按一般公認會計準則編製),這是查理跟我認為最能夠完
整呈現Berkshire現況的模式。

 

Look-Through Earnings
完整透視盈餘

Reported earnings are an inadequate measure of economic progress at
Berkshire, in part because the numbers shown in the table presented
earlier include only the dividends we receive from investees -- though
these dividends typically represent only a small fraction of the earnings
attributable to our ownership. Not that we mind this division of money,
since on balance we regard the undistributed earnings of investees as
more valuable to us than the portion paid out. The reason for our
thinking is simple: Our investees often have the opportunity to reinvest
earnings at high rates of return. So why should we want them paid out?

我們認為帳列盈餘很難表現Berkshire實際的營運狀況,部份原因在於列示在本
公司帳上的股利收入,事實上僅佔被投資公司收益的一小部份,其實我們並不要
求盈餘一定要分配,事實上對我們而言,我們更重視未分配的那一部份,因為他
們極可能為我們創造出更高的價值,原因很簡單,因為我們的被投資公司往往比
母公司更有機會把資金投入到高投資報酬的用途之上,既然如此又何必一定要強
迫他們把盈餘分配回來呢?

To depict something closer to economic reality at Berkshire than
reported earnings, though, we employ the concept of "look-through"
earnings. As we calculate these, they consist of: (1) the operating
earnings reported in the previous section, plus; (2) our share of the
retained operating earnings of major investees that, under GAAP
accounting, are not reflected in our profits, less; (3) an allowance for the
tax that would be paid by Berkshire if these retained earnings of
investees had instead been distributed to us. When tabulating
"operating earnings" here, we exclude purchase-accounting
adjustments as well as capital gains and other major non-recurring
items.

為了要更真實的反應Berkshire實際的經營狀況,於是乎我們運用了完整透視盈
餘的觀念,這個數字總共包含(1)前段所提到的帳列盈餘,加上(2)主要被投資公
司的保留盈餘,按一般公認會計原則未反應在我們公司帳上的盈餘,扣除(3)若
這些未反應的盈餘分配給我們時,估計可能要繳的所得稅。在這裡我們所謂的營
業盈餘係已扣除資本利得、特別會計調整與企業其他非常態的項目。

The following table sets forth our 1999 look-through earnings, though I
warn you that the figures can be no more than approximate, since they
are based on a number of judgment calls. (The dividends paid to us by
these investees have been included in the operating earnings itemized
on page 13, mostly under "Insurance Group: Net Investment Income.")

各位可以從下表看出我們是如何計算出1999年透視盈餘的,不過我還是要提醒
各位這些數字只不過是估計數,很多都是基於簡單的判斷,(被投資公司所分配
的股利收入已經列在13頁的營業利益之內,大部分包含在保險事業的淨投資收
益項下)。

 

 

 

Berkshire's Approximate

 

Berkshire's Share of Undistributed

 

Berkshire's Major Investees

 

Ownership at Yearend(1)

Operating Earnings (in millions)(2)

 

   

American Express Company ...........

 

11.3%

 

$228

 

The Coca-Cola Company ...............

 

8.1%

 

144

 

Freddie Mac ..................................

 

8.6%

 

127

 

The Gillette Company ....................

 

9.0%

 

53

 

M&T Bank ...................................

 

6.5%

 

17

 

The Washington Post Company .....

 

18.3%

 

30

 

Wells Fargo & Company ...............

 

3.6%

 

108

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Berkshire's share of undistributed earnings of major investees

 

707

 

Hypothetical tax on these undistributed investee earnings(3)

 

(99)

 

Reported operating earnings of Berkshire

 

1,318

 

Total look-through earnings of Berkshire

 

$ 1,926

 

 

 

 

 

=====

 


(1) Does not include shares allocable to minority interests
(2) Calculated on average ownership for the year
(3) The tax rate used is 14%, which is the rate Berkshire pays on the dividends it receives



Investments
投資

Below we present our common stock investments. Those that had a
market value of more than $750 million at the end of 1999 are itemized.

下表是Berkshire 1999年市價超過七億五千萬美元以上的股票投資。

 
 
 

12/31/99

 

Shares

 

 

 

Company

 

Cost*

 

Market

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(dollars in millions)

 

 

50,536,900

 

 

 

American Express Company .......

 

$1,470

 

$ 8,402

 

 

200,000,000

 

 

 

The Coca-Cola Company ........

 

1,299

 

11,650

 

 

59,559,300

 

 

 

Freddie Mac ................

 

294

 

2,803

 

 

96,000,000

 

 

 

The Gillette Company ..........

 

600

 

3,954

 

 

1,727,765

 

 

 

The Washington Post Company .......

 

11

 

960

 

 

59,136,680

 

 

 

Wells Fargo & Company ........

 

349

 

2,391

 

 

 

 

 

 

Others ......................

 

4,180

 

6,848

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total Common Stocks .............

 

$8,203

 

$37,008

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

=====

 

======

 

 

* Represents tax-basis cost which, in aggregate, is $691 million less than GAAP cost.


We made few portfolio changes in 1999. As I mentioned earlier, several
of the companies in which we have large investments had disappointing
business results last year. Nevertheless, we believe these companies
have important competitive advantages that will endure over time. This
attribute, which makes for good long-term investment results, is one
Charlie and I occasionally believe we can identify. More often, however,
we can't -- not at least with a high degree of conviction. This explains,
by the way, why we don't own stocks of tech companies, even though we
share the general view that our society will be transformed by their
products and services. Our problem -- which we can't solve by studying
up -- is that we have no insights into which participants in the tech field
possess a truly durable competitive advantage.

1999年我們只做了些許的變動,如同先前我曾提到的,去年有幾家我們擁有重
大投資部位的被投資公司其經營狀況令人不甚滿意,盡管如此,我們仍然相信這
些公司擁有相當的競爭優勢,可協助其繼續穩定經營下去,這種可以讓長期投資
有不錯成果的特點,是查理跟我還有點自信可以分辨得出的地方,只是有時我們
也不敢百分之百保證一定沒問題,這也是為什麼我們從來不買高科技股票的原
因,即使我們不得不承認它們所提供的產品與服務將會改變整個社會,問題是-
就算是我們再想破頭,也沒有能力分辨出在眾多的高科技公司中,到底是哪一些
公司擁有長遠的競爭優勢。

Our lack of tech insights, we should add, does not distress us. After all,
there are a great many business areas in which Charlie and I have no
special capital-allocation expertise. For instance, we bring nothing to
the table when it comes to evaluating patents, manufacturing processes
or geological prospects. So we simply don't get into judgments in those
fields.
不過我必須強調,不懂高科技一點都不會讓我感到沮喪,畢竟在這個世界上本來
就有很多產業是查理跟我自認沒有什麼特殊的經驗,舉例來說,專利權評估、工
廠製程與地區發展前景等,我們就一竅不通,所以我們從來不會想要在這些領域
妄下評論。

If we have a strength, it is in recognizing when we are operating well
within our circle of competence and when we are approaching the
perimeter. Predicting the long-term economics of companies that
operate in fast-changing industries is simply far beyond our perimeter.
If others claim predictive skill in those industries -- and seem to have
their claims validated by the behavior of the stock market -- we neither
envy nor emulate them. Instead, we just stick with what we understand.
If we stray, we will have done so inadvertently, not because we got
restless and substituted hope for rationality. Fortunately, it's almost
certain there will be opportunities from time to time for Berkshire to do
well within the circle we've staked out.

如果說我們有什麼能力,那就是我們深知要在具競爭優勢的範圍內,把事情盡量
做好,以及明瞭可能的極限在哪裡,而要預測在變化快速產業中經營的公司,其
長期的經營前景如何,很明顯的已超過我們的能力範圍之外,如果有人宣稱有能
力做類似的預測,且以公司的股價表現做為佐證,則我們一點也不會羨慕,更不
會想要去仿效,相反的,我們會回過頭來堅持我們所了解的東西,如果不幸偏離
軌道,那也一定是不小心的,絕非慌張莽撞想要得到合理的解釋,還好可以確信
的是Berkshire永遠有機會找到它能力範圍內可以做的事。

Right now, the prices of the fine businesses we already own are just not
that attractive. In other words, we feel much better about the businesses
than their stocks. That's why we haven't added to our present holdings.
Nevertheless, we haven't yet scaled back our portfolio in a major way: If
the choice is between a questionable business at a comfortable price or
a comfortable business at a questionable price, we much prefer the
latter. What really gets our attention, however, is a comfortable business
at a comfortable price.

目前我們擁有的這些好公司的股票價格其實不甚吸引人,從另外一個角度來看,
我們認為它們的本質比起股價表現要好得多,這也是為什麼我們並不急著增加持
股,盡管如此,我們也沒有大幅降低持股部位,如果要在股價令人滿意但有問題
的公司與股價有問題但令人滿意的公司作選擇,我們寧願選擇後者,當然真正會
引起我們興趣的,是那種公司令人滿意,同時股價也令人滿意的標的。

Our reservations about the prices of securities we own apply also to the
general level of equity prices. We have never attempted to forecast what
the stock market is going to do in the next month or the next year, and
we are not trying to do that now. But, as I point out in the enclosed
article, equity investors currently seem wildly optimistic in their
expectations about future returns.

我們對於目前大盤的股價表現與先前對於本身持股投資組合股價的看法一致,我
們從來不會想要試圖去預估下個月或下一年度的股市走勢,過去不會,現在也不
會,不過如同我在附錄的文章中指出的,股市投資人現在對於目前持股未來可能
的投資報酬實在是顯得過於樂觀。

We see the growth in corporate profits as being largely tied to the
business done in the country (GDP), and we see GDP growing at a real
rate of about 3%. In addition, we have hypothesized 2% inflation. Charlie
and I have no particular conviction about the accuracy of 2%. However,
it's the market's view: Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) yield
about two percentage points less than the standard treasury bond, and
if you believe inflation rates are going to be higher than that, you can
profit by simply buying TIPS and shorting Governments.

我們認為企業獲利的成長幅度,與一個國家的國內生產毛額(GDP)的成長率成一
定關係,而我們估計目前GDP的年增率大概只有3%左右,此外再加上2%預估
通貨膨脹,當然查理跟我無法對於2%的準確性做任何保證,但這至少市場上一
般的共識,預防通膨的國庫券(TIPS)的利率大約也是一般政府公債減2個百分點
左右,當然如果你感覺通貨膨脹可能比這個數字還高,你大可以買進TIPS,同
時放空政府公債。

If profits do indeed grow along with GDP, at about a 5% rate, the
valuation placed on American business is unlikely to climb by much
more than that. Add in something for dividends, and you emerge with
returns from equities that are dramatically less than most investors
have either experienced in the past or expect in the future. If investor
expectations become more realistic -- and they almost certainly will --
the market adjustment is apt to be severe, particularly in sectors in
which speculation has been concentrated.

而如果公司獲利果真與GDP 預估5%的成長走勢相當,那麼大家在對美國企業
進行評價時的預期,就不可能過於樂觀,若再加計配發的股利,那麼你可以得出
的預計股票報酬率,可能遠低於大部分投資人過去幾年的投資績效以及未來幾年
的投資預期,而如果投資人的期望可以變得更實際一點,我相信總有一天他們一
定會,則股市將會進行一波相當大程度的修正,尤其是投機氣氛特別重的那些類
股。

Berkshire will someday have opportunities to deploy major amounts of
cash in equity markets -- we are confident of that. But, as the song
goes, "Who knows where or when?" Meanwhile, if anyone starts
explaining to you what is going on in the truly-manic portions of this
"enchanted" market, you might remember still another line of song:
"Fools give you reasons, wise men never try."

總有一天Berkshire會有機會將大量的資金再度投入股市,這點我們相當有信
心,不過就像有首歌的歌詞是這樣:"不知在何處?不知在何時?"當然要是有人想
要試著跟你解釋為何現今股市會如此的瘋狂,請記住另一首歌的歌詞:"笨蛋總
是為不合理的事找理由,而聰明人則避而遠之"。

Share Repurchases
買回庫藏股

Recently, a number of shareholders have suggested to us that Berkshire
repurchase its shares. Usually the requests were rationally based, but a
few leaned on spurious logic.

最近有一些股東建議Berkshire可以考慮從市場上買回公司的股份,通常這類的
要求合情合理,但有時候他們背後依俟的邏輯卻有點奇怪。

There is only one combination of facts that makes it advisable for a
company to repurchase its shares: First, the company has available
funds -- cash plus sensible borrowing capacity -- beyond the near-
term needs of the business and, second, finds its stock selling in the
market below its intrinsic value, conservatively-calculated. To this we
add a caveat: Shareholders should have been supplied all the
information they need for estimating that value. Otherwise, insiders
could take advantage of their uninformed partners and buy out their
interests at a fraction of true worth. We have, on rare occasions, seen
that happen. Usually, of course, chicanery is employed to drive stock
prices up, not down.

只有在一定條件下公司買回自家的股份才有意義,首先,公司在扣除短期週轉所
需之外還擁有多餘的資金,(含現金與銀行額度在內),其次,其股價必須遠低於
其實質價值,關於這點我還有一點補充:股東必須還有足夠資訊來對公司進行評
價,否則的話,公司內部人極有可能運用資訊不對稱的現象佔不知情股東的便
宜,以偏低的價格買到公司的股份,就Berkshire而言,符合上述條件的情形並
不多見,當然一般而言,大部分的公司通常都會誘使股東把股價拉高而非壓低。

The business "needs" that I speak of are of two kinds: First,
expenditures that a company must make to maintain its competitive
position (e.g., the remodeling of stores at Helzberg's) and, second,
optional outlays, aimed at business growth, that management expects
will produce more than a dollar of value for each dollar spent (R. C.
Willey's expansion into Idaho).

我提到的公司資金需求大概有兩種情況:首先,公司要保留維持其根本的競爭優
勢的基本開支(例如賀茲柏格鑽石店的重新裝潢),第二,其他每投入一塊錢能夠
創造出高於一塊錢價值的那類支出(例如R.C.Willey傢具店在愛達荷州新成立的
據點)。

When available funds exceed needs of those kinds, a company with a
growth-oriented shareholder population can buy new businesses or
repurchase shares. If a company's stock is selling well below intrinsic
value, repurchases usually make the most sense. In the mid-1970s, the
wisdom of making these was virtually screaming at managements, but
few responded. In most cases, those that did made their owners much
wealthier than if alternative courses of action had been pursued. Indeed,
during the 1970s (and, spasmodically, for some years thereafter) we
searched for companies that were large repurchasers of their shares.
This often was a tipoff that the company was both undervalued and run
by a shareholder-oriented management.

當一家公司的資金超過前述的資金需求,一家以成長導向的公司股東可以考慮買
進新事業或是買回公司自家的股份,要是公司的股價遠低於其實質的價值,買回
股份通常最有利,在1970年代,投資大眾就曾大聲呼籲公司的經營階層採取類
似的做法,不過當時卻很少有公司回應,真正落實的事後證明大大增進了股東的
利益,而為多餘資金另外找出路的公司則慘不忍睹,確實在1970年代(以及以
後斷斷續續好幾年),我們專門鎖定那些大量買回自家股份的公司,因為這種舉
動通常暗示這是一家公司股價被低估,同時又擁有相當注重股東權益的經營階
層。

That day is past. Now, repurchases are all the rage, but are all too often
made for an unstated and, in our view, ignoble reason: to pump or
support the stock price. The shareholder who chooses to sell today, of
course, is benefitted by any buyer, whatever his origin or motives. But
the continuing shareholder is penalized by repurchases above intrinsic
value. Buying dollar bills for $1.10 is not good business for those who
stick around.

不過這種情況已成昨日黃花,雖然現在買回自家股份的公司比比皆是,但我們認
為大部分的背後都隱含著一個令人鄙夷的動機,那就是為了要拉抬或支撐公司股
價,這當然有利於在當時有意出售股份的股東,因為他們能夠以不錯的價格順利
出場,不管他的背景或出售的動機是什麼,不過留下來的股東卻因為公司以高於
實質價值的價格買回股份而蒙受其害,以1.1美元的價格買進1塊錢美鈔的生
意很明顯的並不划算。

Charlie and I admit that we feel confident in estimating intrinsic value
for only a portion of traded equities and then only when we employ a
range of values, rather than some pseudo-precise figure. Nevertheless,
it appears to us that many companies now making repurchases are
overpaying departing shareholders at the expense of those who stay. In
defense of those companies, I would say that it is natural for CEOs to be
optimistic about their own businesses. They also know a whole lot more
about them than I do. However, I can't help but feel that too often
today's repurchases are dictated by management's desire to "show
confidence" or be in fashion rather than by a desire to enhance per-
share value.


查理跟我承認我們對於估計股票的實質價值還有點自信,但這也只限於一個價值
區間,而絕非一個準確的數字,不過即便如此,我們還是很明顯地可以看出許多
公司目前以高價買回股份的舉動,等於是讓賣出股份的股東佔盡留下來股東的便
宜,當然站在公司的立場來看,大部分的主管對於自家公司有信心也是人之常
情,但他們其實比我們更知道公司的一些內情,不管怎樣,這些買回的舉動總是
讓我認為壓根就不是為了想要增進股東權益,而只不過是經營階層想要展現自信
或者一窩蜂跟進的心態而已。

Sometimes, too, companies say they are repurchasing shares to offset
the shares issued when stock options granted at much lower prices are
exercised. This "buy high, sell low" strategy is one many unfortunate
investors have employed -- but never intentionally! Managements,
however, seem to follow this perverse activity very cheerfully.


有時有的公司也會為了抵消先前發行低價認股選擇權而買回股份,這種買高賣低
的策略跟一般投資人無知的做法並無二致,但這種做法絕不像後者一樣是無心
的,然而這些經營階層好像相當熱衷於這種對於公司明顯不利的舉動。

Of course, both option grants and repurchases may make sense -- but
if that's the case, it's not because the two activities are logically related.
Rationally, a company's decision to repurchase shares or to issue them
should stand on its own feet. Just because stock has been issued to
satisfy options -- or for any other reason -- does not mean that stock
should be repurchased at a price above intrinsic value. Correspondingly,
a stock that sells well below intrinsic value should be repurchased
whether or not stock has previously been issued (or may be because of
outstanding options).

當然發放認股選擇權與買回股份不見得就沒有道理,但這是兩碼子事絕不能混為
一談,一家公司要決定買回自家的股份或發行新股,一定要有充分的理由,如果
只是因為公司發行的認股權被行使或其他莫名其妙的原因,就要強迫公司以高於
實質價值的代價買回股份,實在是沒有什麼道理,相反的,只要公司的股價遠低
於其合理的價值,則不管公司先前是否發行過多的股份或選擇權,都應該積極買
回流通在外的股份。

You should be aware that, at certain times in the past, I have erred in not
making repurchases. My appraisal of Berkshire's value was then too
conservative or I was too enthused about some alternative use of funds.
We have therefore missed some opportunities -- though Berkshire's
trading volume at these points was too light for us to have done much
buying, which means that the gain in our per-share value would have
been minimal. (A repurchase of, say, 2% of a company's shares at a 25%
discount from per-share intrinsic value produces only a ?% gain in that
value at most -- and even less if the funds could alternatively have been
deployed in value-building moves.)

在過去,Berkshire確實有一段期間錯過了買回自家股份的機會,一方面是由於
我本身對於Berkshire的評價本來就比較保守,也因為當時我將大部分的注意力
擺在如何將資金更有效地運用在其他方面之上,此外由於Berkshire本身的交易
量本來就不大,實在是很難有機會買回足夠的量,也就是說想要透過買回
Berkshire股份提高公司實質價值的可能性實在是很低,舉例來說,假設我們有
機會以低於實質價值25%的價格買回2%流通在外的股份,也只不過是讓公司每
股的實質價值增加0.5%而已,更何況還要再考量把這些資金運用到其他更能夠
創造價值的其他用途之上所代表的機會成本。

Some of the letters we've received clearly imply that the writer is
unconcerned about intrinsic value considerations but instead wants us
to trumpet an intention to repurchase so that the stock will rise (or quit
going down). If the writer wants to sell tomorrow, his thinking makes
sense -- for him! -- but if he intends to hold, he should instead hope
the stock falls and trades in enough volume for us to buy a lot of it.
That's the only way a repurchase program can have any real benefit for a
continuing shareholder.

在我們收到的這些信件中,有的僅僅是要求我們對外釋放買回股份的訊息,以藉
此拉抬公司股價(或阻止股價進一步下滑),但其實一點也不關心公司的實質價
值,我們認為若是這些人明天就打算出售股份,那麼這樣的想法還算合理,至少
就他本身立場而言,然而要是他根本就沒打算處分持股,則他應該祈禱公司的股
價進一步下滑,好讓我們有機會可以進場買回足夠的股份,這是Berkshire唯一
有可能藉由買回股份以增進股東權益的情況。

We will not repurchase shares unless we believe Berkshire stock is
selling well below intrinsic value, conservatively calculated. Nor will we
attempt to talk the stock up or down. (Neither publicly or privately have
I ever told anyone to buy or sell Berkshire shares.) Instead we will give all
shareholders -- and potential shareholders -- the same valuation-
related information we would wish to have if our positions were
reversed.

除非我們認為Berkshire的股價遠低於其實質價值(經過保守的估算),否則我們
不會考慮買回自家股份,我們也不會發表任何意見來影響股價的高低走勢,(不
管是公開或私人的場合,我從來不會告訴任何人該買進或賣出Berkshire的股
份),相反的我們會設身處地的提供資訊給所有的股東,也包含可能加入的潛在
股東,藉此評估公司的價值。

Recently, when the A shares fell below $45,000, we considered making
repurchases. We decided, however, to delay buying, if indeed we elect to
do any, until shareholders have had the chance to review this report. If
we do find that repurchases make sense, we will only rarely place bids
on the New York Stock Exchange ("NYSE"). Instead, we will respond to
offers made directly to us at or below the NYSE bid. If you wish to offer
stock, have your broker call Mark Millard at 402-346-1400. When a
trade occurs, the broker can either record it in the "third market" or on
the NYSE. We will favor purchase of the B shares if they are selling at
more than a 2% discount to the A. We will not engage in transactions
involving fewer than 10 shares of A or 50 shares of B.

最近當A股的股價跌落到45,000美元以下時,我們一度曾考慮要開始買回股
份,不過後來我們還是決定要等看看,至少等股東們有機會看到年度報告後再
說,而如果我們真的要買進,我們將不會經由紐約證券交易所(NYSE)下單,我們
只會接受那些直接找上門的賣單,因此如果你有意賣回股份,請要求你的經紀人
直接打電話402-346-1400給Mark Millard,成交之後,經紀人可以第三市
場或在NYSE申報,若是有B股願意以A股2%以上的折價賣回我們也很樂意接
受,但A股低於10股或B股低於50股的交易恕不受理。


Please be clear about one point: We will never make purchases with the
intention of stemming a decline in Berkshire's price. Rather we will make
them if and when we believe that they represent an attractive use of the
Company's money. At best, repurchases are likely to have only a very
minor effect on the future rate of gain in our stock's intrinsic value.


請大家特別注意一點,我們絕對不會為了要阻止Berkshire股價下滑而買回股
份,我們之所以會這樣做,完全是因為我們認為這樣的資金運用對公司最有利,
畢竟買回庫藏股對提高公司股份未來的報酬率的影響實在是有限。

Shareholder-Designated Contributions

股東指定捐贈計劃

About 97.3% of all eligible shares participated in Berkshire's 1999
shareholder-designated contributions program, with contributions
totaling $17.2 million. A full description of the program appears on
pages 70 - 71.

大約有97.3%的有效股權參與1999年的股東指定捐贈計劃,捐出的款項總計
約1,720萬美元,有關本計畫詳細的資訊請參閱70-71頁。

Cumulatively, over the 19 years of the program, Berkshire has made
contributions of $147 million pursuant to the instructions of our
shareholders. The rest of Berkshire's giving is done by our subsidiaries,
which stick to the philanthropic patterns that prevailed before they were
acquired (except that their former owners themselves take on the
responsibility for their personal charities). In aggregate, our
subsidiaries made contributions of $13.8 million in 1999, including
in-kind donations of $2.5 million.

累計過去19年以來,Berkshire總計已依照股東意願捐贈出高達1.47億美元
的款項,除了之外,Berkshire還透過旗下的子公司進行捐贈,而這些慈善活動
都是早在他們被我們購併以前就行之有年的(先前的老闆自行本身負責的個人捐
贈計畫之外除外),總的來說,我們旗下的關係企業在1999年總計捐出1,380
萬美元,其中包含250萬美元等值的物品。

To participate in future programs, you must own Class A shares that are
registered in the name of the actual owner, not the nominee name of a
broker, bank or depository. Shares not so registered on August 31,
2000, will be ineligible for the 2000 program. When you get the
contributions form from us, return it promptly so that it does not get
put aside or forgotten. Designations received after the due date will not
be honored.


想要參加這項計畫者,必須擁有A級普通股,同時確定您的股份是登記在自己
而非股票經紀人或保管銀行的名下,同時必須在2000年8月31日之前完成登
記,才有權利參與2000年的捐贈計畫,當你收到表格後,請立即填寫後寄回,
以免被丟在一旁給忘記了,逾期恕不受理。

The Annual Meeting
年度股東大會

This year's Woodstock Weekend for Capitalists will follow a format
slightly different from that of recent years. We need to make a change
because the Aksarben Coliseum, which served us well the past three
years, is gradually being closed down. Therefore, we are relocating to
the Civic Auditorium (which is on Capitol Avenue between 18th and 19th,
behind the Doubletree Hotel), the only other facility in Omaha offering
the space we require.

今年資本家的伍斯達克週末將與往來的形態略有不同,由於前幾年年會固定的舉
辦地點-阿肯薩本體育館即將關閉,所以今年我們將移師市立體育館(位於首都
街,雙樹飯店後方),全奧瑪哈地區大概只剩這裡擁有足夠我們使用的空間。


The Civic, however, is located in downtown Omaha, and we would create
a parking and traffic nightmare if we were to meet there on a weekday.
We will, therefore, convene on Saturday, April 29, with the doors
opening at 7 a.m., the movie beginning at 8:30 and the meeting itself
commencing at 9:30. As in the past, we will run until 3:30 with a short
break at noon for food, which will be available at the Civic's concession
stands.


由於市立體育館位於奧瑪哈的市中心,可想而知要是我們於週末期間在那裡舉行
股東會,鐵定會造成停車與交通的夢魘,因此我們決定在4月29日星期六舉行
股東會,大門會在星期一早上七點開放,同時電影短片照例會在八點半播放,正
式會議則從九點半開始,扣除中午短暫的休息時間,(市立體育館外備有各類點
心攤),整個會議將一直進行到下午三點半。

 

An attachment to the proxy material that is enclosed with this report
explains how you can obtain the credential you will need for admission
to the meeting and other events. As for plane, hotel and car
reservations, we have again signed up American Express (800-799-
6634) to give you special help. In our normal fashion, we will run buses
from the larger hotels to the meeting. After the meeting, the buses will
make trips back to the hotels and to Nebraska Furniture Mart,
Borsheim's and the airport. Even so, you are likely to find a car useful.


後面附有股東會開會投票的相關資料,向各位解釋如何拿到入場所許的識別證,
由於預期會有相當多的人與會,我們建議大家最好先預訂機位與住宿,美國運通
(電話800-799-6634)將會很高興為您提供相關安排服務,如同以往,我們會
安排巴士接送大家往返各大旅館與會場之間,並在會後接送大家到內布拉斯加傢
具店與波仙珠寶店或是到飯店與機場,當然你可能會覺得如何有一輛車就更方便
了。

We have scheduled the meeting in 2002 and 2003 on the customary
first Saturday in May. In 2001, however, the Civic is already booked on
that Saturday, so we will meet on April 28. The Civic should fit our needs
well on any weekend, since there will then be more than ample parking
in nearby lots and garages as well as on streets. We will also be able to
greatly enlarge the space we give exhibitors. So, overcoming my normal
commercial reticence, I will see that you have a wide display of Berkshire
products at the Civic that you can purchase. As a benchmark, in 1999
shareholders bought 3,059 pounds of See's candy, $16,155 of World
Book Products, 1,928 pairs of Dexter shoes, 895 sets of Quikut knives,
1,752 golf balls with the Berkshire Hathaway logo and 3,446 items of
Berkshire apparel. I know you can do better.

今年(2001年)由於市立體育館的預定時間已提早被訂走,所以我們被迫將時間
改成4月28日,但明(2002年)後年(2003年)的股東會我們仍將按照慣例在五
月的第一個星期六舉行,不論如何,市立體育館應該能夠滿足我們的需要,因為
周圍擁有足夠的停車位,同時提供的與會者空間將較以往寬敞許多,而我已成功
克服了本身的商業堅持,我將保證各位在市立體育館可以買到Berkshire一系列
的產品,去年的記錄是大家總共搬走了3,059磅的糖果、16,155美元的世界百
科全書與相關出版品、1,928雙Dexter鞋子、895組Quikut小刀以及1,725
顆上面印有Berkshire Logo的高爾夫球和3,446件Berkshire的衣服與帽子,
我相信今年的成績一定會更好。

Last year, we also initiated the sale of at least eight fractions of
Executive Jet aircraft. We will again have an array of models at the
Omaha airport for your inspection on Saturday and Sunday. Ask an EJA
representative at the Civic about viewing any of these planes.

去年我們開始試著推出EJA的專機所有權,今年的星期六與星期天,在奧瑪哈機
場,我們仍將展示一系列的機隊供大家參觀,請到市立體育館向EJA的業務代表
洽詢參觀的事宜。

Dairy Queen will also be on hand at the Civic and again will donate all
proceeds to the Children's Miracle Network. Last year we sold 4,586
DillyR bars, fudge bars and vanilla/orange bars. Additionally, GEICO will
have a booth that will be staffed by a number of our top counselors from
around the country, all of them ready to supply you with auto insurance
quotes. In most cases, GEICO will be able to offer you a special
shareholder's discount. Bring the details of your existing insurance, and
check out whether we can save you some money.

乳品皇后也將再度在市立體育館現場擺設攤位,同時將所得全數捐給兒童希望聯
盟,去年我們總共賣出4,586根Dilly、雪花棒以及香草/橘子口味的巧克力棒,
此外GEICO公司會再度派出各地區最優秀的業務員,在會場設立攤位,隨時提
供股東們汽車保單的報價,在大多數的情況下,GEICO都可以提供給你一個相
當優惠的股東折扣,各位記得將自己現在的投保資料帶來,看看是否能幫自己省
下一筆錢。

Finally, Ajit Jain and his associates will be on hand to offer both no-
commission annuities and a liability policy with jumbo limits of a size
rarely available elsewhere. Talk to Ajit and learn how to protect yourself
and your family against a $10 million judgment.

最後Ajit Jain跟他的同事也會在現場受理鉅額無佣金年金與責任保險的服務,
其最高上限是你在別的地方所找不到的,記得找Ajit聊聊如何幫你自己及家人
規避1,000萬美元以上的潛在風險。

NFM's newly remodeled complex, located on a 75-acre site on 72nd
Street between Dodge and Pacific, is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on
weekdays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. This
operation offers an unrivaled breadth of merchandise -- furniture,
electronics, appliances, carpets and computers -- all at can't-be-beat
prices. In 1999 NFM did more than $300 million of business at its 72nd
Street location, which in a metropolitan area of 675,000 is an absolute
miracle. During the Thursday, April 27 to Monday, May 1 period, any
shareholder presenting his or her meeting credential will receive a
discount that is customarily given only to employees. We have offered
this break to shareholders the last couple of years, and sales have been
amazing. In last year's five-day "Berkshire Weekend," NFM's volume was
$7.98 million, an increase of 26% from 1998 and 51% from 1997.

NFM位於道奇街與太平洋街,新改裝的大賣場佔地75英畝,營業時間平日從
早上10點到下午9點,星期六及星期日則從早上10點到下午6點,提供各式
各樣的產品,舉凡傢具、電子產品、小家電、地毯以及電腦,全部都以超低的價
格供大家選購,NFM 1999年單店的營業額超過三億美元,以奧瑪哈區區67.5
萬都會人口而言,實在稱得上是個商業奇蹟,在四月27日到五月1日股東會期
間,股東只要持隨股東開會通知單附贈的優惠券到NFM購買各類商品,都可獲
得員工價的優惠,自從這項優惠推出以來,銷售業績十分驚人,以去年股東會的
五天期間,NFM的營業額高達798萬美元,較前兩年分別增加26%及51%。

 

Borsheim's -- the largest jewelry store in the country except for
Tiffany's Manhattan store -- will have two shareholder-only events. The
first will be a champagne and dessert party from 6 p.m.-10 p.m. on
Friday, April 28. The second, the main gala, will be from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
on Sunday, April 30. On that day, Charlie and I will be on hand to sign
sales tickets. Shareholder prices will be available Thursday through
Monday, so if you wish to avoid the largest crowds, which will form on
Friday evening and Sunday, come at other times and identify yourself as
a shareholder. On Saturday, we will be open until 7 p.m. Borsheim's
operates on a gross margin that is fully twenty percentage points below
that of its major rivals, so be prepared to be blown away by both our
prices and selection.

波仙珠寶-全美單店營業額僅次於紐約曼哈頓蒂芬妮的珠寶店,在股東會期間將
會有兩場專為股東舉辦的展覽會,第一場是在四月28日的雞尾酒會,時間從下
午6點到晚上10點,第二場主秀則在四月30日舉行,從早上9點到下午6點,
當天查理跟我也會出席,在現場接受大家憑發票索取簽名,在星期四到星期一的
股東會期間,波仙都將提供股東特惠價,所以如果你希望避開星期五晚上到星期
天的擁擠人潮,你可以在其他的時間上門光顧,記得表明股東的身分,星期六我
們會營業到晚上7點,波仙的營業毛利要比其他主要競爭對手要低20個百分點
以上,所以請大家準備好席捲我們所有的商品吧!

In the mall outside of Borsheim's, we will again have Bob Hamman --
the best bridge player the game has ever seen -- available to play with
our shareholders on Sunday. We will also have a few other experts
playing at additional tables. In 1999, we had more demand than tables,
but we will cure that problem this year.

照例橋牌界的傳奇性人物Bob Hamman將會在星期天下午出席在波仙珠寶店
外面大廳舉辦的一場橋牌大賽,除此之外還會有其他橋牌高手與股東們同樂,去
年由於參加人數比預期多,造成牌桌不夠,今年我們將改善這個問題。


Patrick Wolff, twice US chess champion, will again be in the mall playing
blindfolded against all comers. He tells me that he has never tried to
play more than four games simultaneously while handicapped this way
but might try to bump that limit to five or six this year. If you're a chess
fan, take Patrick on -- but be sure to check his blindfold before your
first move.

Patrick Wolff-美國棋兩度冠軍,也會再度在會場矇眼與所有挑戰者對奕,他向
我透露,他從來沒有這樣與四位以上的對手下棋,不過他今年會試著挑戰同時對
付五位甚至是六位對手,如果你也是個棋迷,記得到現場找Patrick挑戰,但在
下棋前記得要確定他的眼睛是否真的矇住了。

Gorat's -- my favorite steakhouse -- will again be open exclusively for
Berkshire shareholders on Sunday, April 30, and will be serving from 4
p.m. until about midnight. Please remember that you can't come to
Gorat's on Sunday without a reservation. To make one, call 402-551-
3733 on April 3 (but not before). If Sunday is sold out, try Gorat's on one
of the other evenings you will be in town. I make a "quality check" of
Gorat's about once a week and can report that their rare T-bone (with a
double order of hash browns) is still unequaled throughout the country.


我個人最愛的牛排館-Gorat's為了Berkshire股東年會破例在4月30日星期
天開門營業,從下午四點開始營業,一直到午夜,請記得星期天事先若沒有訂位
的人請勿前往以免向隅,要預約請在四月3日以後打電話(402-551-3733),
若訂不到當天的位子,也可以試試其他晚上,每個星期我都會到Gorat做一次
品質檢查,而我可以向各位保證它的丁骨\牛排加上雙份的牛肉丸仍然是全美之
最。

The usual baseball game will be held at Rosenblatt Stadium at 7 p.m. on
Saturday night. This year the Omaha Golden Spikes will play the Iowa
Cubs. Come early, because that's when the real action takes place.
Those who attended last year saw your Chairman pitch to Ernie Banks.

按照往例棒球賽將於星期六晚上在Rosenblatt體育館舉行,今年奧瑪哈金釘鞋
隊將對上愛荷華小熊隊,記得早一點來,因為重頭戲在一開始就會出現,去年有
參加的人都知道,本人一開球就把球砸在Rrnie Banks的身上。


This encounter proved to be the titanic duel that the sports world had
long awaited. After the first few pitches -- which were not my best, but
when have I ever thrown my best? -- I fired a brushback at Ernie just to
let him know who was in command. Ernie charged the mound, and I
charged the plate. But a clash was avoided because we became
exhausted before reaching each other.

這樣的結果證明這是運動界期待已久的大對決,在前面幾次不痛不癢的投球之
後,(當然是因為我還沒有使出絕招,只是不知道我的絕招何時才會出現!),我狠
狠地將球砸要Ernie的背上,好讓他知道誰才是老大,Ernie立刻衝向投手丘,
我也不甘示弱往本壘板前進,可惜的是在正面對決之前,兩人早已氣力放盡。

Ernie was dissatisfied with his performance last year and has been
studying the game films all winter. As you may know, Ernie had 512
home runs in his career as a Cub. Now that he has spotted telltale
weaknesses in my delivery, he expects to get #513 on April 29. I,
however, have learned new ways to disguise my "flutterball." Come and
watch this matchup.

Ernie對於他去年的表現感到非常不滿意,所以整個冬天都在研究比賽時的錄影
帶,大家可能知道,Ernie在小熊隊時代擁有生涯512支全壘打的驚人記錄,現
在據可靠消息指出,他已經找到我投球的弱點,準備在4月29日當天揮出第
513支全壘打,不過我也不是省油的燈,準備將我拿手的上飄球加以改良,記
得到現場觀賞這場精彩的大對決。

I should add that I have extracted a promise from Ernie that he will not
hit a "come-backer" at me since I would never be able to duck in time to
avoid it. My reflexes are like Woody Allen's, who said his were so slow
that he was once hit by a car being pushed by two guys.

不過我也已經得到Ernie的保證,不會回敬我飛奔而來的滾地球,因為我實在是
沒有能力躲過,我的反應神經跟伍迪艾倫一樣差,據說他曾經被一輛用兩人手推
的車子撞到。

Our proxy statement contains instructions about obtaining tickets to
the game and also a large quantity of other information that should help
you enjoy your visit in Omaha. Join us at the Capitalist Caper on Capitol
Avenue

股東會資料將告訴大家如何取得球賽入場的門票,以及有關本次會議期間大量的
旅遊資訊,股東會場見!

March 1, 2000
Warren E. Buffett
Chairman of the Board


華倫.巴菲特

董事會主席

2000年3月1日

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