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Warren Buffett says these are the very best businesses to own — 3 high-quality examples from Berkshire's portfolio

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Warren Buffett says these are the very best businesses to own — 3 high-quality examples from Berkshire's portfolio
Warren Buffett says these are the very best businesses to own — 3 high-quality examples from Berkshire's portfolio

Never forget the basics.

While we’re constantly bombarded with investment mumbo jumbo, we should never forget that companies largely exist for one main reason: to take capital from investors and earn a return on it.

That’s why it makes sense for investors to look for businesses, with durable competitive advantages, that are able to consistently deliver high returns on capital.

As Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett once said, “[T]he best business to own is one that over an extended period can employ large amounts of incremental capital at very high rates of return.”

As stocks look to snap a seven-week losing streak, here are three Berkshire holding ideas with double-digit returns on invested capital.

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Moody's (MCO)

With returns on invested capital consistently in the mid-20% range, credit rating leader Moody’s leads off our list.

Moody’s shares held up incredibly well during the height of the pandemic. And despite the recent market correction, the stock is still up about 160% over the past five years.

The company’s well-entrenched leadership position in credit ratings, which leads to outsized returns on capital, should continue to limit Moody’s long-term downside.

Moreover, Moody’s has generated about $1.9 billion in trailing twelve-month free cash flow. And in 2021, management returned $1.2 billion to shareholders through share repurchases and dividends.

As of Q1 2022, Berkshire holds more than 24.6 million shares of Moody’s worth just over $8.3 billion. Moody’s has a dividend yield of 0.9%.

Apple (AAPL)

Next up, we have consumer technology gorilla Apple, which boasts a five-year return on invested capital of 31%, much higher than that of rivals like Nokia (-2%) and Sony (13%).

Even in the cutthroat world of consumer hardware, the iPhone maker has been able to generate outsized returns due to its loyalty-commanding brand and high switching costs (the iOS experience can only be had through Apple products).

And with the company continuing to penetrate emerging markets like India and Mexico, Apple’s long-term growth trajectory remains healthy.

In the most recent quarter, Apple’s revenue increased 9% to $97.3 billion. The company also returned over $27 billion to shareholders.

The stock currently sports a dividend yield of just 0.6%, but with a buyback yield of 3.6%, Apple is doling out more cash to shareholders than you might think.

It's no wonder that Apple is Berkshire's largest public holding, owning more than 890 million shares in the tech giant worth roughly $155.5 billion.

Procter & Gamble (PG)

Rounding out the list is consumer staples giant Procter & Gamble, with a solid five-year average return on invested capital of 14%.

Berkshire held 315,400 shares at the end of Q1, worth around $48 million at today’s price. While that’s not a big position by Berkshire standards, something does make P&G stand out: the ability to deliver rising cash returns to investors through thick and thin.

The company offers a portfolio of trusted brands like Bounty paper towels, Crest toothpaste, Gillette razor blades, and Tide detergent. These are products households buy over and over no matter what the state of the economy is.

In April, P&G’s board of directors announced a 5% increase to the quarterly payout, marking the company’s 66th consecutive annual dividend hike.

P&G shares currently offer a dividend yield of 2.5%.

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