I was sitting in one of the very comfortable couches located at our customer-trading lounge yesterday. While attending to the concerns of one of our customers, a guy on my left, a new customer I guess, approached me and asked me this question. “If one billionaire is willing make you a millionaire by giving you a thousand shares of a U.S. company, what would it be?”
My tired eyes brightened and so my face. In my mind “Aha, this guy is trying to pull a trick on me.” He had no idea that 10 years ago when I started working with the U.S. Equities Market, I have been salivating on one particular stock and dreamed of owning a share or shares of it. It has been in my mind ever since I found it in Reuters while writing my daily materials for our customers about NYSE and NASDAQ gainers and losers, hot or not, buy, sell or hold and all sorts of information.
Although (nowadays) my eyes blink in succession and faster than normal due to computer related stress, this time it did not. I told him “I would settle for 500 shares or even 100 shares.” The guy was surprised and thought I was kidding. “Where would that 500 or 100 shares bring you? That is only a hundred thousand dollars for 500 shares at US$200 or two hundred thousand for a thousand shares.” He laughed, “Yes, that would make you a millionaire if converted to Philippine Peso. Is that what you are thinking?
I said, “No! We are talking about becoming a millionaire in U.S. dollars right?” “Right!” He answered. “Definitely not a thousand shares of IBM – International Business Machine, MSFT – Microsoft Corp., QQQQ – NASDAQ 100, CSCO – Cisco Systems, INTC – Intel Corp or QCOM -Qualcomm Inc. So what is it?”
I told myself “I got you!”
So what really is this stock that I am salivating to own and that a hundred shares or even fifty shares would make me a millionaire in U.S. dollars?
If you followed the news three weeks ago, or you know Warren Buffett, the Forbes number two richest man in the world who donated US$37 billion or 85% of his fortune to B&MGF (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), you will have the idea of which company I wanted to own a thousand, five hundred or one hundred shares of stocks. I am talking about the company owned by this man. The company is called Berkshire Hathaway Inc. traded in NYSE with a symbol of BRKa.
It is now your turn to compute. How many figures did your calculator come up with? Am I right that owning a hundred or even fifty shares would make me a millionaire?
You may wonder what happened to the guy who asked me the question above? He was astonished and shook his head faster than my blinking eyes. Never thought that there is something like this traded in the U.S. stock market.
Now you know why Warren Buffett can afford to donate such a huge amount of money.
The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Corporate America
Letters of Warren Buffett regarding pledges to make gifts of Berkshire stocks and how his plan will be carried out..
Conversation with Warren Buffett by Carol J. Loomis, Fortune editor-at-large