> Warren Buffett Blog: BYD has been very profitable to Buffett even with recent market weakness

Thursday, May 3, 2018

BYD has been very profitable to Buffett even with recent market weakness

The rout in BYD Co, a Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer shares is nearing $9 billion as investors desert what was the world’s top stock only months ago.

Investors and analysts alike are losing faith in BYD’s ability to thrive with fewer government subsidies and growing competition, with the company last week predicting first-half profit may tumble as much as 83 percent. It’s among the year’s worst performing Chinese companies in Hong Kong, and has given back almost all of the gains triggered by last year’s euphoria over China’s plan to get rid of fossil-fueled cars.

Buffett’s investment in BYD has been quite profitable since a unit of Berkshire Hathaway first bought 225 million shares in September 2008, paying a discounted HK$8 apiece. The billionaire, known for his long-term investing style, held on to the stake even as prices soared to HK$80.45 last October. He once told a Chinese state broadcaster that he “loved” the shares.

BYD has a habit of whipsawing investors. The Hong Kong shares have been either oversold or overbought -- and often both -- every year since its 2002 initial public offering in the city. The company’s mainland-listed shares tumbled 7 percent on Wednesday, the steepest loss among China’s 50 largest firms, as onshore equity traders caught up following a two-day holiday.