Hershey jet spotted in Omaha, Warren Buffett’s backyard: analyst

Jun 25, 2021

 

Hershey jet spotted in Omaha, Warren Buffett’s backyard: analyst

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June 25, 2021 1:50pm 

 Updated

Don Bilson, head of event-driven research at Gordon Haskett, said in a note that a plane tracked as being owned by Hershey made a trip to Omaha.Bloomberg via Getty Images

A jet owned by candy maker Hershey made an unusual trip to Omaha, Nebraska, the home of Warren Buffett, according to an analyst with a history of spotting deals through plane records.

Don Bilson, head of event-driven research at Gordon Haskett, said in a note Thursday that a plane tracked as being owned by Hershey made a June 12 trip to Omaha.

Bilson noted a Hershey jet hasn’t made a trip to the city “in at least a year.”

While pure speculation at this point, Bilson noted that the company’s Challenger 604 stayed in Omaha for a “couple of days which is certainly enough time for anyone who made that trip to pay the Big Guy a visit.”

Of course, it’s also possible Hershey was making a completely unrelated trip to Omaha, where the college baseball World Series began on June 19, and the US Olympic swimming trials ran from June 4 to June 20.

But Bilson also noted Buffett’s longtime affection for sweets and the companies that manufacture them. Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway has owned See’s Candies for nearly 50 years. And Berkshire was involved in Mars’ acquisition of candy maker Wrigley in 2008.

Warren Buffett, chairman and chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., speaks during the virtual Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholders meeting on a laptop computer in Tiskilwa, Illinois, U.S., on Saturday, May 1, 2021. Berkshire's executives addresses shareholders via video-conference to conform with health guidelines, scrapping for a second year an arena event in Omaha, Nebraska, that typically attracted thousands of adoring fans.
Bilson also noted Buffett’s longtime affection for sweets and the companies that manufacture them. Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway has owned See’s Candies for nearly 50 years.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Berkshire also owns about $21 billion worth of shares in Coca-Cola, and Buffett has joked that he’s “a quarter Coca-Cola,” saying in 2015 that he drinks at least five 12-ounce servings a day.

“Besides being an unapologetic junk food fan, Buffett has owned See’s Candies for 49 years,” Bilson said Thursday in his note. “He also participated in the 2008 purchase of Wrigley that was spearheaded by Mars and we have long thought that he was the perfect buyer for HSY. More than that, he may be the only realistic buyer who would win approval from the Hershey Trust.”

The Hershey Trust, which retains majority voting control of the stock, is led by 12 board members who would need to approve of any deal. Hershey’s market value is about $36 billion.

Warren Buffett (L), CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger attend the 2019 annual shareholders meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, May 3, 2019.
Buffett has joked that he’s “a quarter Coca-Cola,” saying in 2015 that he drinks at least five 12-ounce servings a day.
AFP via Getty Images

Berkshire is sitting on more than enough cash to make a deal for Hershey. The company’s cash pile grew to more than $145 billion by the end of the first quarter, slightly below the firm’s record level, which was set at the end of the third quarter last year.

And giving more weight to the speculation over one jet is Bilson’s reputation for spotting deals. In 2019, the visit of a Gulfstream plane owned by Occidental Petroleum to Omaha tipped Bilson off that Berkshire could be working a deal.

Days later, Berkshire announced the commitment of a $10 billion preferred stock investment in Occidental.

Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett walks through the exhibit hall as shareholders gather to hear from the billionaire investor at Berkshire Hathaway Inc's annual shareholder meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S., May 4, 2019.
Berkshire also owns about $21 billion worth of shares in Coca-Cola.
REUTERS

And later that year, Bilson again used so-called alternative data to predict Carl Icahn’s involvement in an activist investor battle at HP.

“We do not comment on rumors and speculation about our business, and this includes commenting on the movements of our aircraft,” Hershey spokesman Jeff Beckman said.

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