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February 25, 2019 | Even Buffett Can Make a Mistake

Rick Ackerman

Rick Ackerman is the editor of Rick’s Picks, an online service geared to traders of stocks, options, index futures and commodities. His detailed trading strategies have appeared since the early 1990s in Black Box Forecasts, a newsletter he founded that originally was geared to professional option traders. Barron’s once labeled him an “intrepid trader” in a headline that alluded to his key role in solving a notorious pill-tampering case. He received a $200,000 reward when a conviction resulted, and the story was retold on TV’s FBI: The Untold Story. His professional background includes 12 years as a market maker in the pits of the Pacific Coast Exchange, three as an investigator with renowned San Francisco private eye Hal Lipset, seven as a reporter and newspaper editor, three as a columnist for the Sunday San Francisco Examiner, and two decades as a contributor to publications ranging from Barron’s to The Antiquarian Bookman to Fleet Street Letter and Utne Reader.

The recent plunge in Heinz-Kraft shares reminds us that even Warren Buffett can make a mistake. A couple of years ago, it might have seemed as though the Sage’s portfolio was impervious to downturns, given its heavy focus on the basics: food chain, railroads and insurance companies. As it happens, his bet on such time-tested brands as Oscar Mayer, Jell-o, Kraft Singles, Kool Whip and Cheez-Whiz has tanked, a victim of changing tastes. Even KHC’s venerable Maxwell House label has fallen on hard times as consumers weaned on Starbucks have developed a serious jones for something more exotic than a cup of joe. No one is crying for Buffett, though, and Buffett himself seems unconcerned. If you owned auto-insurance giant Geico and Burlington Northern Santa Fe railway, which can carry a ton of freight 500 miles on a single gallon of diesel fuel, would you be worried?

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February 25th, 2019

Posted In: Rick's Picks

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