It hasn't been a banner year for the Oracle of Omaha.
What makes this highly unusual is that Berkshire famously tends to underperform when the S&P skyrockets and outperform when the stocks as a whole do less well, which makes sense given Buffett's long-term time frame. Indeed, Buffett is well known for instructing investors: "Be fearful when others are greedy and be greedy when others are fearful."
This year, however, the S&P is slightly lower, with a 0.4 percent decline. And while there is still a month and a half left in 2015, it is notable that this would mark the first year that Berkshire A shares have underperformed in a down year for the S&P 500 since 1990. (Readers might note that this excludes 2011, when the S&P fell by less than 0.05 percent.)
The most striking year of underperformance came in 1999, when Berkshire shares fell 20 percent while the S&P 500 rose by nearly the same amount.
Berkshire stock is the victim of a rough patch for the transportation and industrial businesses Berkshire owns, as well as some unfortunate stock picks. Out of Buffett's biggest stock holdings, IBM and American Express have gotten licked this year, while Wells Fargo and Coca-Cola are roughly flat.
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