Think Like a Buffett

Physician's Money Digest, April15 2005, Volume 12, Issue 7

The agreement:

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Warren Buffett, CEO of BerkshireHathaway Holdings, is often looked to asa sage stock picker for investors to emulate.His recent backing of Procter &Gamble Co's (P&G) acquisition ofGillette Co is a prime example of his taxdeferral skills, translating into enormousprofit. By arranging a novel two-step, tax-freedeal, Buffett was able to take theprofit from the sale of Berkshire's 96 millionshares and put it immediately backinto shares of the new company, forcingthe government to wait on its capitalgains bite. Over the next12 to 18 months, P&G will buy backsome of the stocks just issued (translatinginto a 60% stock/40% cash package) andGillette's shareholders can keep or sellwhatever they'd like, also controllingwhen they'd like their tax bill due.Before you set up Berkshire tickers onyour Blackberry and monitor Buffett'severy buy and sell, consider thatBerkshire's 35% corporate rate is morethan twice the 15% you would pay oncapital gains. Thus, Berkshire bears lessrisk holding overpriced stocks, foregoing65% of after-tax profits by not selling ata high vs an individual's 85%. Plus,Buffett doesn't let anyone know whathe's doing until the deal's done, making ithard to play follow-the-leader. Learn to think like Buffett by prudentlymanaging your cash flow, especiallyyour taxes.