Did Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK.B) recently commit an error in judgment? It's tough to be critical of one of the world's greatest value investors, but even the best of the best can occasionally get caught up in the hype and forget the disciplined rules that earned them their fortunes in the first place.
In question are the so-called dollar stores, specifically Berkshire's potentially overpriced investment in Dollar General (NYSE: DG).
To be fair, making a $48 million investment in a $15.6 billion company while the stock traded at a high 18 times earnings didn't seem like a call Buffett would have made. Instead, Berkshire's new manager, Todd Combs, probably made the pick.
Still, Berkshire Hathaway is Buffett's baby, and knowing how he likes to do things, the pick may not exactly be one that investors want to mirror.
From good to great
Dollar stores and deep-value retailers such as Dollar General, Family Dollar (NYSE: FDO) and Dollar Tree (Nasdaq: DLTR) are new, but they really didn't reach their full stride until 2008. Prior to then, consumers for the most part felt rich and acted rich, and didn't want or need to shop for bargains.
But once economic Armageddon struck, many consumers quickly made the switch and started shopping at these deep-bargain stores in order to save their hard-earned money.
And the numbers verify it.
Between 2005 and 2007, Dollar Tree's bottom line grew by an average of 15% per year. Since then, its net income has expanded by a little more than 31% per year on average.
Dollar General's earnings growth since 2007 has been even more phenomenal.