It is the independent that comes with the goods this morning (at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/warren-buffett-tesco-losses-take-millions-off-berkshire-hathaway-earnings-9848441.html), and even though Tesco is at the centre, this is not about Tesco; it is about all of us!
The article refers to a view given a few weeks ago when we saw ‘Mr Buffett, who has called his investment in Tesco a “huge mistake”‘, this is all good, and we saw this before, but how does this amount to Warren Buffett being the ‘Sage of Omaha‘ go from a brand name to a person in a public area where the others can snack on him, like food for Hyena’s and so on.
Well, this is all about us in the end and about image and ego. You see, there is something massively wrong with those who WERE (past tense) with Tesco and as the quarter of a billion hole was found, instead of calling for restraint and standing by the ethical high ground Dave Lewis was standing. People like Mike Ashley who did bet on Tesco bouncing back, as they should and I hope that Mike Ashley makes a bundle on this. Yet, the centre piece actually not one but two of them are all ignored. The first one is that Tesco still made a billion, so as we see people running away in ‘fear’ and all other sorts of reasons, the value of Tesco went down. I reckon that those screaming in misconceived ‘horror’ are now paying for the speedy speaking, I am not impressed with their anguish and I am not convinced that it was genuine.
You see, if the financial backers had stood firm with Lewis, the hurt might have been there, but the structural repair would have been basic structural repairs and the pain to the financial backers would have been slightly more than superficial in the end.
The second part of this stake is Pricewaterhouse Coopers. There are too many questions, no answers coming in and no solutions directly in sight, other than those that would continue Tesco at a massively reduced size. I am still not impressed, you see, we all did this to ourselves. I oppose certain practices, not just because the stakes are high, but because as we ‘cater’ to profit, especially unnatural high percentages, we only cater to fatal self-inflicted wounding. So how does this link to Mr Warren Buffet (oops, intentional typo). You see we get that from the following two quotes ‘A week after Mr Buffett significantly reduced his shares in the retailer he saw $1bn (£160mn) wiped off the value of his stake in IBM, after the tech giant recorded a 17 per cent drop in its third quarter profits‘ and ‘Just days later, Coca-Cola caused Mr Buffett’s investment losses to climb to $2bn (£1.26mn) after the soft-drinks giant’s shares plummeted six per cent following flat sales and a lowered guidance for the year‘. So how does this affect us? Well consider the lives we have, the things we buy and the corners we cut. Are the two drops even a surprise and more important is the Tesco example strong enough for others not to play that dangerous game? I am not implying that certain ‘errors’ are currently being instigated, but consider the news on how America is now so much on a better track with people having jobs (which is true), yet consider when people like you and me spend money on a laptop, software and on cheaper food and no fuzzy drinks. I can say ‘YAY!’ to all three. My laptop (not an IBM Lenovo) is failing me, it is 4 years old and I have no budget for at least a year to replace it. Can you afford a new laptop, just like that? I have not bought software, still using Office 2010 (and happy to use it) and to keep my likes budgeted, my last can of coke was about 2 weeks ago. Many are turning their dimes to make ends meet and the market forgot about the people like you and me! In the end the concept requires people to buy and the juggling of numbers is no longer an option, we all depend on the cheaper places like Aldi to get a good deal. So how can Coca Cola remain so high? Will 6% be just the start of the plummeting for now? Yes, we tend to buy a little extra during Christmas and America has an upcoming thanksgiving in less than 3 weeks and Christmas 4 weeks after that, yet what happens 6 weeks after that? Will jobs suddenly get lost again, with unemployment numbers to go up? I am not sure, but it is not unlikely. People like financial analyst Charles Nenner have been speaking in regards to a crashing Dollar; he stated ‘The government has loans outstanding that are very short term. If interest rates only go up a half a percent, they are already in trouble. Also, the United States doesn’t have the power to force a lot (of Treasury bonds) on other countries because the United States has decided not to be a power anymore‘, which is kind of funny, because I saw that danger scenario coming for well over a year ago. Yes, I have seen some of the abuse of people stating that I am so wrong, which is a view that is fair enough, yet what happens when visible analysts in the economic market, not just like Charles Nenner, but heaps of others all making predictions in the same direction, then what will you do? Disagree a little more, or just until the dollar becomes Junk (or on equal footing with the Yen), then who will YOU blame?
Those who have no debt at that point will just lose mobility, those in debt will feel that drowning feeling sooner then they think. In the end we all did this to ourselves (to some degree). So as warren seems to lose 2 billion out of the 70 he had. I think that these ‘investors’ draining on the 10%-15% they expect, will soon need to refocus on the options where it is not about how quick you make a buck, but how you can slowly make some dollars and not lose your investments. That will be centre to all future deliberations, those who do will hold on to the farm, those who don’t will hand their farms over to those who did and now there is no actual option to recover for those who lost it. That is at the centre, as the economy is not restoring to the public and the consumers we see a push towards Aldi and other budget minded places like Aldi.
These ‘investors’ should start to realise that getting a 3% return is not that bad, it beats praying for profit in excess of 10%, which is less and less realistic, whilst they end up writing off the virtual money pool they thought they had. It all starts with the consumer, investors forgot about that, no matter what profit you expect or what is ‘balanced’ on paper, if people do not have the money to buy, it pretty much ends and that part was ignored by too many for too long a time.
The other part in all this remains PwC, let’s just accept that not all is well when we see ‘cover my back‘ statements and signing off on well over 100 million in inflated numbers, especially with a 10 million pound auditing bill, can we agree to the small fact that a clear statement after a thorough investigation at PwC could have prevented a massive loss of value for Tesco, which would have kept many investors in a lessened state of panic. By the way, did Coca Cola downgrade the profits as the stimulus is now ending? If so, what true hardships are ahead for the people as funds will need to come from other places?
For now the people are still struggling and poverty has never been higher in the US, so there will be consequences there too, but how much of it will hit the UK full on is a matter that will require time to investigate and time to protect against, time that seems to be wasted on several low yielding efforts (read: concepts that will not come to fruition). I cannot state what the best course of action is, but I feel fairly certain that the current trend will not solve anything; it will only make it harder for everyone down the track.