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Have you ever wondered about the hidden gem in Berkshire's investment portfolio? Look no further than DaVita Inc., a silent giant in the healthcare sector with a 37% market share in the U.S. dialysis market. From Warren Buffett's strategic acquisition to DaVita's community impact and financial performance, this article unveils the intricate layers of this $3.5B gem, showcasing its potential for growth and value creation. Don't miss out on uncovering the true worth of this hidden gem!

Unveiling DaVita: The Hidden $3.5B Gem in Berkshire's Portfolio


In the vast mosaic of investments that constitute Berkshire Hathaway's portfolio, there lies a unique and often overlooked gem: DaVita Inc . This healthcare titan, specializing in kidney dialysis services, may not capture headlines like some of Berkshire's more prominent holdings, yet it represents a significant and strategic component of the conglomerate's investment strategy . With a market share of 37% in the U.S. dialysis market and a presence that spans thousands of outpatient centers, DaVita is a silent giant in the healthcare sector 1.

For shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway, understanding the value and prospects of DaVita is crucial, as it embodies the investment acumen of Warren Buffett and his team. This article aims to unveil the intricate layers of DaVita Inc., exploring its financial performance, community impact, employee engagement, and the strategic moves that have shaped its current standing. As we delve into the details, it will become evident why DaVita is indeed a hidden gem in Berkshire Hathaway's diverse and robust portfolio.

Warren Buffett's Acquisition of DaVita Shares

Warren Buffett's foray into DaVita Inc. began in the fourth quarter of 2011, marking the start of a strategic accumulation of shares that would culminate in a stake worth $3.52 billion. Over the course of three years, Berkshire Hathaway meticulously built up a position of 36.1 million DaVita shares, representing 1.05% of its equity portfolio and becoming its 9th largest holding 1 . This investment is a testament to Buffett's belief in the company's value and potential for growth.

The significance of this investment within Berkshire's equity portfolio cannot be overstated. Owning 40.71% of the outstanding DaVita stock, Buffett's firm has a commanding influence over the company's direction and decision-making processes. This level of ownership is reflective of a deep conviction in DaVita's business model and its role within the healthcare industry.

Buffett's approach to building this stake was characterized by his typical patience and value-oriented investment philosophy . The position, which cost Berkshire $1.93 billion, has netted an impressive 83% gain so far, showcasing the Oracle of Omaha's ability to identify and capitalize on undervalued opportunities. Despite selling 2.47 million shares since the initial investment period, the remaining stake continues to be a significant and profitable component of Berkshire's portfolio 1.

DaVita Inc.: A Leader in Kidney Dialysis Services

DaVita Inc. stands as a leader in the provision of kidney dialysis services, operating a vast network of 2,816 outpatient dialysis centers across the United States, serving 204,200 patients 1. Founded in 1979 as Medical Ambulatory Care, Inc., DaVita has grown to become a key player in the healthcare sector, with a focus on delivering high-quality care to patients suffering from chronic kidney failure and end-stage renal disease 1.

A patient of davita kidney dialysis in hospital happy and healthy - ai impression

The company's 37% market share in the U.S. dialysis market is indicative of its dominant position and the trust it has garnered from patients and healthcare providers alike. Financially, DaVita has demonstrated resilience and stability, with a market capitalization of $9.054 billion and a price-to-earnings (PE) ratio of 15.39, signaling a healthy balance between its share price and earnings power 2. The earnings per share (EPS) of $6.44 further underscore the company's profitability and efficiency in generating shareholder value.

DaVita's strategic acquisitions, such as the purchase of Healthcare Partners for $4.42 billion in 2012, have expanded its service offerings and integrated care capabilities. Although the division was later sold to UnitedHealth Group's Optum division for $4.3 billion in June 2019, the move was aligned with DaVita's focus on its core dialysis business and the optimization of its portfolio for sustained growth 1.

DaVita's Financial Performance

DaVita Inc.'s financial and operating results for the quarter ended September 30, 2023, highlight the company's robust performance in a challenging healthcare landscape . With consolidated revenues of $3.1 billion for the quarter, DaVita has demonstrated its ability to generate significant income streams, bolstered by a consistent demand for dialysis treatments 3. The company reported 7,306,948 total U.S. dialysis treatments during the quarter, averaging 92,493 treatments per day—a testament to its operational scale and efficiency.

Operating income stood at $496 million, with an adjusted operating income of $525 million, reflecting strong margins and the effective management of operational costs. The diluted earnings per share of $2.62 and adjusted diluted earnings per share of $2.85 provide shareholders with a clear indication of the company's earnings capacity and financial health. Furthermore, DaVita's operating cash flow of $661 million and free cash flow of $453 million underscore its ability to generate liquidity and reinvest in its growth initiatives 3.

DaVita's patient-centric approach has led to an expansion of its service footprint, with the company providing dialysis services to approximately 249,100 patients at 3,053 outpatient dialysis centers. The company's involvement in risk-based integrated care arrangements, representing approximately $4.8 billion in annualized medical spend for about 59,000 patients, illustrates its commitment to innovative care models that align with the evolving needs of the healthcare system 3.

DaVita's Impact on Community Health

The 2023 DaVita Health Tour has exemplified the company's dedication to community health and wellness. Over the course of six weeks, the tour has reached thousands of community members, providing free health screenings and education focused on kidney health. This initiative has not only raised awareness but has also had a tangible impact on individuals such as Patricia Frey and Tamara Mulder, who have directly benefited from the services provided 4.

Mulder's story is particularly poignant, as she was diagnosed with stage 3 chronic kidney disease and faced challenges in managing her health due to a gap in health insurance. The DaVita Health Tour offered her an updated measurement of her kidney function and new resources to manage her condition. Such personal accounts highlight the real-world impact of DaVita's efforts and the importance of early detection and education in managing chronic diseases.

The involvement of DaVita teammates, many of whom work with patients experiencing kidney failure, in volunteering at the health tour events has fostered a deeper understanding of kidney health within the community. The appreciation expressed by community members for the informative and quick health screenings reinforces the value of DaVita's community engagement initiatives and their role in building a healthier society 4.

DaVita's Employee Engagement and Diversity

DaVita's workforce is a reflection of the company's commitment to diversity, inclusion, and employee development. With 65,000 employees dedicated to supporting patients across the kidney care journey, DaVita has cultivated a culture where 81% of teammates reported feeling like they belonged at the company in 2022 5. This sense of belonging is crucial for fostering a collaborative and supportive work environment.

The company's workforce demographics are notable, with 78% of teammates being women and 56% being people of color. Leadership diversity is also a priority, with 53% of leaders with profit and loss responsibility being women and 30% being people of color. Such statistics not only showcase DaVita's inclusive culture but also its alignment with broader societal efforts to promote diversity in the workplace 5.

DaVita's investment in its employees extends to career development, as evidenced by the 38,000+ teammates who are part of Clinical Ladders, the company's career pathways program. Additionally, DaVita's $3.5 million investment in tuition reimbursement, which has supported the academic ambitions of over 1,400 teammates, demonstrates its commitment to lifelong learning and professional growth 5.

DaVita's Strategic Acquisitions and Divestitures

DaVita's strategic approach to acquisitions and divestitures has been a key factor in its growth and market positioning. The acquisition of Healthcare Partners in 2012 allowed DaVita to expand into integrated care management, broadening its service offerings beyond dialysis. This move was aligned with industry trends towards coordinated care and value-based payment models, positioning DaVita at the forefront of healthcare innovation 1.

The subsequent divestiture of the division to UnitedHealth Group's Optum division in 2019 for $4.3 billion was a strategic decision to refocus on DaVita's core competencies in kidney care and dialysis services. This divestiture not only provided a significant return on investment but also streamlined the company's operations, allowing for a more concentrated effort on enhancing its dialysis business and improving patient outcomes 1.

These strategic moves reflect DaVita's agility in responding to the dynamic healthcare landscape and its ability to capitalize on opportunities that align with its long-term vision. For shareholders, such strategic foresight is indicative of a management team that is adept at navigating the complexities of the healthcare sector and is committed to maximizing shareholder value.

Warren Buffett's Investment Strategy and Gain from DaVita

Warren Buffett's investment in DaVita is a classic example of his value investing strategy, which focuses on identifying undervalued companies with strong fundamentals and the potential for long-term growth . The initial stake cost of $1.93 billion and the subsequent 83% gain illustrate the success of this approach, as Buffett recognized the intrinsic value of DaVita and the growth prospects of the dialysis market 6.

Buffett's decision to sell 2.47 million shares 6 since the peak of his investment in DaVita may have been influenced by a variety of factors, including portfolio rebalancing or taking profits. However, the remaining stake continues to be a substantial investment, reflecting Buffett's confidence in the company's future and his willingness to maintain a significant position over the long term.

Berkshire Hathay's investment philosophy, which emphasizes long-term value creation, is evident in the DaVita holding. The company's consistent financial performance, strong market position, and strategic initiatives align with Berkshire's investment criteria, making DaVita a valuable asset within the conglomerate's diverse portfolio.

Future Outlook for DaVita and Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders

Looking ahead, DaVita's growth prospects appear promising, given the increasing prevalence of chronic kidney disease and the aging population, which are likely to drive demand for dialysis services. The company's focus on integrated care and patient outcomes positions it well to capitalize on industry trends and potential changes in the regulatory environment affecting healthcare providers 3.

For Berkshire Hathay shareholders, DaVita represents a stable and growing component of the portfolio, with the potential to contribute positively to the conglomerate's overall performance. As the healthcare sector continues to evolve, DaVita's strategic positioning and operational excellence are likely to provide a solid foundation for continued success.

Conclusion: Unveiling the Hidden Gem

In conclusion, DaVita Inc. is a hidden gem within Berkshire Hathaway's investment portfolio, offering a combination of market leadership, financial stability, community impact, and strategic foresight. As shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway, it is important to recognize the underlying value and potential of DaVita, which may not always be apparent amidst the more high-profile holdings.

This exploration of DaVita's multifaceted contributions to Berkshire's portfolio underscores the importance of looking beyond the surface to uncover the true worth of an investment. With its proven track record, commitment to patient care, and strategic vision, DaVita is well-positioned to continue its trajectory of growth and value creation.

For Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, embracing the potential of DaVita as a valuable asset is not only a recognition of its current contributions but also an investment in its future promise. As part of a long-term investment strategy, DaVita's role in Berkshire's portfolio is a testament to the wisdom of diversification and the pursuit of enduring value.