Self Directed Investor Inc
SDI: "Empowering investors with ideas and education"
Symbol Lookup »  
Topics:ChinaETFsEarningsEconomyEnergyForexGoldIncomeLessonsIdeasTrading

  • Other news: News from PR Newswire
| More

Citigroup & Berkshire Anomalies: Breaking the Law of One Price

Mon, Jul 6, 12:46 PM ET, by Donald Marron

Both Citigroup (C,) and Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A, BRK.B) continue to violate the law of one price.

Citigroup


In previous posts (this is the most recent), I’ve pointed out that there are three ways you can purchase common shares of Citigroup (C, C.P):

Simple: Buy shares of common stock.

Preferred: Buy shares of preferred stock that will convert into common.

Synthetic: Use call and put options to replicate the financial returns of owning common stock.

In a perfect world, these three approaches would give nearly identical prices. That’s the law of one price.

Over the past few months, however, Citi securities have been breaking that law. Investors who have been buying common shares have been significantly overpaying relative to the values implied by the prices of the preferred stock and options.

Those pricing differences have declined somewhat over time as the likelihood of the preferred conversion has risen and as the closing date has gotten closer (the offer expires July 24 and closes the following week).

Nevertheless, the spread in prices remains substantial. At Thursday’s closing prices you could have bought 1,000 shares of Citigroup for three different prices (using price quotes from Yahoo and ignoring transaction costs):

Simple:          $2,880

Preferred:      $2,517

Synthetic:     $2,650

Note: The preferred calculation is based on the Series F, while the synthetic is based on options that mature in September 2009 with a strike price of $3.

In other words, investors in the common stock appear to be overpaying by as much as 14% relative to investors in the preferred. That’s down from the 18% I calculated in my previous post, but it is still much wider than normal for these kinds of deals.

As best as I can tell, the only explanation for this anomaly is the difficulty of shorting Citigroup common stock, coupled with some clientele effect that leads certain investors (presumably not the “smart money”) to buy only the common.

Berkshire Hathaway


Berkshire’s pricing anomaly is small compared to Citi’s, but still interesting. As I discussed in my original post, the source of the anomaly is that Berkshire Hathaway has two classes of shares: A and B. The B shares receive 1/30 the economic payoff of the A shares (there are also some differences in voting rights).

As a result, you might expect that the price of an A share should be about 30 times the value of a B share — the law of one price in action.  And you would be right; the prices have often traded around a 30:1 ratio since the class B shares were introduced.  But not always.

In recent months, for example, the ratio has increased noticeably, with Class A shares trading at a notable premium to the Class B:



On Thursday, the ratio finished the day at 30.8.  The A shares closed at $89,384, while the B shares closed at $2,893.  At that price, 30 B shares would cost you $86,790, almost $2,600 less than a single A share.  If you think that the prices will converge, you might be able to profit by shorting an A share and buying 30 B shares (that’s not a recommendation, and no I haven’t tried).

I originally thought the Berkshire anomaly might be a sign of stress in the financial markets; notice, for example, how the spread widened in the summer of 2007 and the fall of 2008. More recently, however, the wide spread  has persisted despite calmer financial conditions. That suggests that the spread is being driven by Berkshire specific factors. A leading hypothesis — as suggested in several emails from readers — is that it may be related to Warren Buffett’s donation of Class B shares to the Gates Foundation.

Disclosure: As research, I am currently long a small amount of Citigroup preferred and short some call options on the common. I have no positions in Berkshire securities.


SDI Glossary: "price" Definition
This Article's Word Cloud:   Berkshire   Citi   Citigroup   Class   Hathaway   Simple   Synthetic   That   anomaly   been   buying   closed   closing   common   differences   financial   from   have   however   investors   might   months   much   only   options   overpaying   post   preferred   previous   price   prices   pricing   ratio   recent   relative   share   shares   small   some   spread   still   stock   that   there   these   three   while   will   with   would

| More

Triple Stock Index Check on Breakouts to New Highs
Wed, Dec 7, 2:21 PM ET, by Corey Rosenbloom

Bullish repbalancing plus a powerful short-squeeze is boosting the US Equity Market to all-time highs ...

Dragging the Emini Fibonacci Grid to New Highs Dec 7
Wed, Dec 7, 1:11 PM ET, by Corey Rosenbloom

Buyers continued their relentless campaign of accumulating stocks as the S&P 5oo broke to new ...

Emini Keeps the Bull Market Going Dec 6 Update
Tue, Dec 6, 12:51 PM ET, by Corey Rosenbloom

Today keep the bullish pressure going – so far – on the bounce up away ...

Down Drops the Dollar on Divergences into Fibonacci Target
Mon, Dec 5, 3:41 PM ET, by Corey Rosenbloom

The S&P 500 isn’t the only market you can track using intraday charts and Fibonacci ...

New Lows after Surge for Nat Gas 3x DGAZ
Mon, Dec 5, 12:41 PM ET, by Corey Rosenbloom

Triple-Leveraged ETFs are the wild-west of the short-term trading landscape. You can triple your gains ...

New Lows for Nat Gas 3x DGAZ
Mon, Dec 5, 12:21 PM ET, by Corey Rosenbloom

Triple-Leveraged ETFs are the wild-west of the short-term trading landscape. You can triple your gains ...

Rally off Fibonacci Grid Support Emini Update Dec 5
Mon, Dec 5, 12:11 PM ET, by Corey Rosenbloom

It’s always exciting when price does exactly what it should! Here we’re seeing a rally ...

December 2 Emini Fibonacci Retracement Grid Update
Fri, Dec 2, 1:31 PM ET, by Corey Rosenbloom

After an initial bounce just above our official Emini Fibonacci Target, price appears to be ...

December Downward Emini Retracement Takes Over
Thu, Dec 1, 2:31 PM ET, by Corey Rosenbloom

I’m thrilled to know that logic prevails and price is doing what it “should” at ...

Three Steps to a Trade a Collapse Lesson from Dryships DRYS and Qualcomm QCOM
Wed, Nov 30, 12:41 PM ET, by Corey Rosenbloom

I’m still surprised with how quickly Dryships (DRYS) surged from $5.00 to $100.00 but even ...

Our Make or Break Emini Level Update Nov 30
Wed, Nov 30, 11:51 AM ET, by Corey Rosenbloom

I’m not sure the buyers (bulls) know the meaning of a “pullback” but here we ...

Microsoft MSFT Gently Nudges to New High
Tue, Nov 29, 3:11 PM ET, by Corey Rosenbloom

Software giant Microsoft (MSFT) continue to be a “strong stock getting stronger” as evidenced by ...

Resilient Bulls Emini Fibonacci Grid Update Nov 29
Tue, Nov 29, 2:11 PM ET, by Corey Rosenbloom

I’m not sure the buyers (bulls) know the meaning of a “pullback” but here we ...

QuadMarket Holiday Trend Update Nov 28
Mon, Nov 28, 2:41 PM ET, by Corey Rosenbloom

We’ve seen all markets trend strongly after the US Election and Thanksgiving holiday November events. ...

Back to a Key Pivot Point for Swing Trading Apple AAPL Nov 28
Mon, Nov 28, 12:31 PM ET, by Corey Rosenbloom

Does Apple (AAPL) go higher or lower from $110? Build your next swing trade off ...

Finally Pulling Back from the Highs Emini Update Nov 28
Mon, Nov 28, 12:21 PM ET, by Corey Rosenbloom

Wait, the market can actually go DOWN? I had no idea! If you started your ...

The Emini Holiday Creep Continues Nov 23
Wed, Nov 23, 12:51 PM ET, by Corey Rosenbloom

Breakout? Pullback? Extended Uptrend getting more extended? Divergent Reversal? Let’s plan! Here’s today’s updated Emini ...

US Steel X Surges through Breakout Highs Nov 22
Tue, Nov 22, 2:51 PM ET, by Corey Rosenbloom

Expectations for future “stimulus” and transportation/spending projects from the new Republican administration sent raw materials ...

Yet Another Emini Divergence at the New Highs Nov 22
Tue, Nov 22, 12:21 PM ET, by Corey Rosenbloom

Breakout? Pullback? Extended Uptrend getting more extended? Divergent Reversal? Let’s plan! Here’s today’s updated Emini ...

Emini Breaks on Through to the Other Side Nov 21
Mon, Nov 21, 2:51 PM ET, by Corey Rosenbloom

Breakout? Pullback? Extended Uptrend getting more extended? Let’s plan! Here’s today’s updated Emini (@ES) trading ...

Post-Election Risk Trending Up in Treasuries and the Euro, Down in U.S. Stocks
Mon, Nov 21, 8:11 AM ET, by Bill Luby

You can always tell when the crowd gets long the VIX and ends up on ...

Emini Plays Again at the Highs Nov 18
Fri, Nov 18, 1:11 PM ET, by Corey Rosenbloom

Will it – or won’t it – break through to new highs? Or will we ...

From Speculative Start to Crushing Collapse in DRYS
Thu, Nov 17, 2:41 PM ET, by Corey Rosenbloom

Well that was exciting while it lasted – and it didn’t last long. Shares in ...

Straight Back to the Highs Nov 17 Emini Update
Thu, Nov 17, 2:21 PM ET, by Corey Rosenbloom

We’re back into the 2,180 prior high target and plotting our next move along with ...

Did You Ever Think Dry Could Go this High DRYS
Wed, Nov 16, 12:21 PM ET, by Corey Rosenbloom

The talk of the trading community this week is the impossible, raging rally in Dry ...

Coming Down from the Highs Emini Update Nov 16
Wed, Nov 16, 12:11 PM ET, by Corey Rosenbloom

Though not stellar so far, price is pulling down away from the 2,180 @ES pivot. ...

Might the Financial Stock Surge Stall Today after Huge Rally
Tue, Nov 15, 12:31 PM ET, by Corey Rosenbloom

After the surprise US Election outcome, we’re seeing a flood of money into Financials, presumably ...

Still Hanging Out at the Highs Emini Update Nov 15
Tue, Nov 15, 12:21 PM ET, by Corey Rosenbloom

We’re still seeing price trade at the highs after a sideways pullback instead of a ...

Radical Reversal for Dry Ships DRYS with Bullish Surge
Mon, Nov 14, 3:51 PM ET, by Corey Rosenbloom

It’s not often you see a stock go from beneath $5.00 to $40.00 in three ...

Range Trading at the Emini Highs November 14
Mon, Nov 14, 1:31 PM ET, by Corey Rosenbloom

Our divergences at the high continue to stall the market just ahead of a key ...

Ten Year Treasuries Return to Higher Timeframe Trendline
Fri, Nov 11, 3:11 PM ET, by Corey Rosenbloom

After Tuesday’s US Election, we’ve seen rapid movement in the intermarket landscape. Let’s focus on ...

Another Divergence Reversal at the Emini Highs Nov 11
Fri, Nov 11, 12:21 PM ET, by Corey Rosenbloom

A key pattern – with visual negative divergences – is forming at the retest highs. ...

Emini Divergent Reversal at the Highs Nov 10
Thu, Nov 10, 12:21 PM ET, by Corey Rosenbloom

Additional bullish price action after the election sent us to our prior high target into ...

LABU 3x Biotechs Surges with Bullish Reversal Breakout
Wed, Nov 9, 4:31 PM ET, by Corey Rosenbloom

Triple-Leveraged ETFs offer chances for instant profit – or loss – depending on the outcome. ...

With a Surprise Trump Triumph the Emini Surge Continues Nov 9
Wed, Nov 9, 12:11 PM ET, by Corey Rosenbloom

Markets like certainty – even if that certainty comes at a big surprise to most ...

Top VIX Crushes in History
Tue, Nov 8, 1:21 PM ET, by Bill Luby

Yesterday's sharp downward move in the VIX gave me a reason to tweet that the ...

The Emini Election Day Surge Simply Continues
Tue, Nov 8, 1:21 PM ET, by Corey Rosenbloom

It’s Election Day in the USA and the stock market rally continues in full force! ...

Four Rapid Money Flow Reversals before the Big Election
Mon, Nov 7, 3:41 PM ET, by Corey Rosenbloom

Before Americans go to the polls and select the next president, we’re seeing sudden reversals ...

SPX Sigma and Volatility Chart for November
Mon, Nov 7, 12:31 PM ET, by Corey Rosenbloom

Price cycles between alternating periods of high and low volatility, and if we can assess ...

The Nov 7 Expected Emini Bounce Surges Higher
Mon, Nov 7, 12:11 PM ET, by Corey Rosenbloom

Here we go – after a pullback exactly to our 2,080 target, buyers continued expected ...

The Nov 6 Expected Emini Bounce Surges Higher
Mon, Nov 7, 11:51 AM ET, by Corey Rosenbloom

Here we go – after a pullback exactly to our 2,080 target, buyers continued expected ...

VIX Sets New Record with Nine Up Days in a Row
Mon, Nov 7, 8:11 AM ET, by Bill Luby

Over the course of the past few days I have been tracking the slow grind ...

How to Play a Volatility Spike (Guest Columnist at Barron's)
Sun, Nov 6, 6:11 PM ET, by Bill Luby

Yesterday, I was pleased to once again have an opportunity to pen a guest column ...

The Expected Emini Bounce Materalizes Today
Fri, Nov 4, 1:21 PM ET, by Corey Rosenbloom

Here we go – after a pullback exactly to our 2,080 target, buyers are creating ...

The Dreaded Divergence and Three Push Precede Facebook Fall
Thu, Nov 3, 12:11 PM ET, by Corey Rosenbloom

Price often gives visual signals before reversing, even if in real-time it looks very surprising. ...

VIX Median Reversion and Five-Year Moving Averages
Wed, Nov 2, 1:51 PM ET, by Bill Luby

When people talk about the VIX you often hear them refer to mean reversion, which ...

A Quick Lesson in Divergent Reversals for the US Dollar
Tue, Nov 1, 12:11 PM ET, by Corey Rosenbloom

Many traders love reversal patterns but so many traders get trapped in false reversals in ...

Updating Apple AAPL into Critical Target Support
Tue, Nov 1, 11:51 AM ET, by Corey Rosenbloom

Will Apple (AAPL) shares hold support at the current pivot or will sellers break price ...

Down to the Lows You Go Emini Morning Update Nov 1
Tue, Nov 1, 11:31 AM ET, by Corey Rosenbloom

We continue using our key Fibonacci Grid for the Emini, but we may see a ...

Down Goes Crude Oil on a Mirror Image Rounded Reversal
Mon, Oct 31, 1:11 PM ET, by Corey Rosenbloom

The “Rounded Reversal” or “Mirror Image Foldback” is one of my favorite chart patterns yet ...

  More articles:  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 next »

ABOUT US »   ADVERTISE »   CONTACT US »   TERMS OF USE & PRIVACY POLICY »

Citigroup & Berkshire Anomalies: Breaking the Law of One Price | Self Directed Investor | Copyright © 2008 - 2016, All Rights Reserved

Any ideas and opinions presented in Self Directed Investor content are for informational and educational purposes only, and do not reflect the opinions of BNK Invest, Inc. or any of its affiliates, subsidiaries or partners. In no way should any content contained herein be interpreted to represent trading or investment advice. None of the information contained herein constitutes a recommendation that any particular security, portfolio, transaction, or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. All site visitors agree that under no circumstances will BNK Invest, Inc,. its subsidiaries, partners, officers, employees, affiliates, or agents be held liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on information obtained. Read Full Disclaimer.

SDI is associated with: ValueForum.com -- a subscription-based online social networking forum of serious individual investors. | MarketNewsVideo.com -- videos appearing on SDI are produced by Market News Video. | TickerTech.com -- stock quote content appearing on SDI is at least 20 minutes delayed and is powered by Ticker Technologies. | GoldStockStrategist.com -- Edited by Scott V. Nystrom, PhD, Gold Stock Strategist provides analysis on gold mining companies.