When Warren Buffett disclosed 5% stakes in five Japanese trading houses three years ago, it took many by surprise. Now, those holdings have almost tripled in value to $17 billion, as Buffett has snapped up more shares and the trading houses’ stock prices have skyrocketed, reports Yahoo! Finance, citing an article in Business Insider.
Berkshire Hathaway’s stake in Japan is now about 8.5%, and the trading houses have gained an average of 181% since 2020, when Buffett originally disclosed the stake. It’s now one of the largest positions that the conglomerate maintains. At Berkshire’s annual shareholder meeting in May, Buffett discussed how “ridiculously” cheap the companies were when he first bought them, yet very high-quality for their stellar reputation in the market. In addition, the trading houses were big enough to actually make an impact on Berkshire’s earnings. And Japanese officials are pressuring Japanese-listed companies to funnel more money back to investors—an attractive prospect that was probably a major factor in Buffett’s decision to put stakes down in the trading houses in the first place. Andrew McCagg of Nomura Asset Management UK told Business Insider, “The great value placed on good behavior by Japanese corporations may also have played a role…[though] that alone wouldn’t move the needle if they couldn’t find undervalued companies in industries/sectors they understand, for which they see a long-term roadmap for improvement.”