Berkshire Beats Apple as Favorite Stock of Tiger 21 Group

Berkshire Beats Apple as Favorite Stock of Tiger 21 Group

By Margaret Collins  Oct 22, 2013

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A) regained its ranking as the favorite stock pick among U.S. and Canadian multimillionaires, beating Apple Inc. (AAPL) and fending off the increasing preference for exchange-traded funds. Members of Tiger 21, a New York-based group of wealthy investors, selected Berkshire in an annual survey of preferred investments scheduled to be released today. Apple, which had held the No. 1 spot the last two years, slipped to No. 2. “The bloom is off of Apple,” Michael Sonnenfeldt, founder and chairman of Tiger 21, said in an interview. “For people who held Berkshire Hathaway it’s held its appeal, but for Apple, a lot of people who were on that ride have realized that perhaps the best days are behind it.”Apple’s share price has fallen by more than one-fourth from its September 2012 record high as the Cupertino, California-based company battles lower-cost rivals and seeks to prove it can innovate without co-founder Steve Jobs, who died in 2011. The Berkshire choice shows members’ satisfaction with Buffett’s investing strategy even as the 83-year-old chief executive officer won’t publicly identify a successor.

Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM), the biggest maker of chips for mobile phones, was the other individual stock among members’ top five. The San Diego-based company surged to No. 4 from No. 20 last year. The top five included two ETFs for the first time: The iShares MSCI EAFE Index Fund was No. 3 and the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY) ranked No. 5.

Burlington Northern

Berkshire, based in Omaha, Nebraska, soared in its first 25 years under Buffett as the billionaire transformed a textile maker into an insurer and placed winning bets on stocks such as Capital Cities/ABC Inc. and Coca-Cola Co. More recently, he’s expanded by buying whole companies such as railroad Burlington Northern Santa Fe.

Berkshire has risen 31 percent this year, compared with a 22 percent gain in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. (SPX) The stock had dropped to No. 3 in last year’s survey after being No. 2 in 2011 and No. 1 in 2010.

Tiger 21 is a network of 220 entrepreneurs, investors and executives who have at least $10 million in investable assets each and more than $20 billion combined. Members, whose average age is 55, meet monthly in seven cities in the U.S. and four in Canada to share ideas. They pay annual membership fees of $30,000.

Members had, on average, 24 percent of assets in stocks, 21 percent in real estate, 19 percent in private equity, 15 percent in fixed income, 11 percent in cash, 8 percent in hedge funds, 1 percent in commodities and 1 percent in miscellaneous investments as of Sept. 30, according to a separate report from the group.

Smartphone Chips

Qualcomm has benefited as growing demand for smartphones lifts sales. The stock has gained 11 percent this year, trailing the 32 percent surge by the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index. Some investors have sold because of concern that revenue growth, which has averaged almost 30 percent each quarter this year, won’t translate into profit as the company faces more competition in emerging markets.

Members’ preference for low-cost ETFs, which are linked to indexes and trade like stocks, has increased because active fund managers usually don’t beat the market after fees over time, Sonnenfeldt said.

The SPDR S&P 500 ETF, known as the SPY, last year became the first ETF among members’ top five picks, ranking No. 2. The security tracks the U.S. benchmark index and is offered by Boston-based State Street Corp. (STT) New York-based BlackRock Inc. (BLK)’s iShares MSCI EAFE ETF, which tracks equities in Europe, Australasia and the Far East, joined the list’s leaders for the first time this year.

ETF Deposits

U.S.-based ETFs attracted an estimated $33.6 billion in September, compared with $2.5 billion flowing into U.S. open-end mutual funds, according to Chicago-based researcher Morningstar Inc. (MORN) ETFs charge an average 0.67 percent annual fee, compared with 1.26 percent for the typical mutual fund, Morningstar data show.

Tiger 21 also asked members their preferred asset class. About 41 percent chose public equities, followed by private equity and hedge funds, which both got 17 percent of the votes. Hedge-fund preference declined in the past two surveys while private equity gained favor.

The private-equity asset allocation is the highest in a decade, Sonnenfeldt said. The increase is driven more by direct investments members are making in closely held companies rather than commitments to private-equity funds, he said.

Chickasaw, Rachlin

Investors are losing money on an inflation-adjusted basis in safe assets such government bonds and cash, which is causing them to take more risks to preserve spending power, Sonnenfeldt said. They’re choosing investments they know, such as startups and small businesses, he said. Most Tiger 21 members have become wealthy by building a company rather than through an inheritance.

Members listed Chickasaw Capital Management LLC, based in Memphis, Tennessee, and New York-based Neuberger Berman Group LLC’s Rachlin Group as two of their favorite money managers. Both invest in income-producing master limited partnerships.

Tiger 21’s survey was based on responses from more than 70 members collected in May through July.

To contact the reporter on this story: Margaret Collins in New York at


About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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