Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. was scheduled to offer 450,000 shares of its new less-expensive stock Thursday, the so-called "Baby Berkshires," at about $1,100 a share.
That is 1/30th the price of Berkshire's existing shares, which closed at $33,400, down about $1,500, on Wednesday.Buffett, a billionaire investor, at first had said he expected to sell about 350,000 shares of the new Class B stock. The new shares were to start trading on the New York Stock Exchange Thursday morning.
They will become the second most expensive stock issue, bumping the current second highest stock, The Washington Post Co., which trades at about $291 each.
Buffett said he was forced to issue the cheaper shares to compete with the emergence of investment trusts that attempted to capitalize on his reputation by selling fractional stock units of Berkshire Hathaway. He says buyers should not expect the new stock to perform the way Berkshire Hathaway stock has in the past.
Investment trusts could prey upon people with "unrealistic expectations" that Berkshire's past successes could be repeated, Buffett said. He also argued the trusts were luring investors into paying steep management fees and tainting his company's name.
Berkshire Hathaway reported profits of $725 million last year, or $611 share, a 46 percent increase over 1994.
Berkshire Hathaway owns big stakes in many large U.S. corporations, with shares in Coca Cola Co., Gillette Co., Wells Fargo Bank and Washington Post.