- Warren Buffett received a nod in the series finale of “Better Call Saul” this week.
- Jimmy McGill imagined becoming a billionaire by going back in time to buy Berkshire stock in 1965.
- Berkshire’s Class A shares have ballooned in value from $19 to nearly $457,000 since then.
Warren Buffett became one of the world’s wealthiest people by transforming Berkshire Hathaway from a failing textile mill into a massive conglomerate over the past 57 years. Jimmy McGill, the fictional protagonist of “Better Call Saul,” imagined getting rich by simply being one of Buffett’s first shareholders, during the television series’ finale this week.
In a flashback, McGill and another character are shown transporting $7 million through the desert, and discussing whether they should take the money and run. McGill, also known as Saul Goodman, outlines what he would do with his share of the cash if he had a time machine.
“Heh, it’s easy,” he says. “May 10, 1965. That’s the day Warren Buffett took over at Berkshire Hathaway. I figure, got $1 million left from building the time machine, so I’d take my half and just stick it into Berkshire, and then I come back here and I’m a billionaire.”
Berkshire was worth about $19 a share in 1965, according to “The Complete Financial History of Berkshire Hathaway” by Adam Mead. If McGill invested his $500,000 at that price, he would receive around 26,300 of Berkshire’s Class A shares.
Those shares change hands at nearly $457,000 each today, valuing McGill’s stake at $12 billion. A net worth of that size would put him in the top 160 on the Bloomberg Billionaires List, between the financiers Steve Cohen and Robert Smith.
Berkshire’s “A” shares have skyrocketed by about 2,400,000% since 1965, or a compound annual growth rate of around 19% – nearly double the S&P 500’s return over the same period. In other words, $1,000 invested in Berkshire in 1965 would be worth $24 million today.
Buffett undoubtedly enjoyed his shout-out on “Better Call Saul,” given it’s a spin-off of one of his favorite series, “Breaking Bad.”
“When Vince Gilligan is in charge, a show is a cinch to be five stars,” he told The Hollywood Reporter in 2015, referring to the creator of both series.
The investor and his business partner, Charlie Munger, have filmed several skits with “Breaking Bad” protagonists Walter White and Jesse Pinkman, which they’ve played for the crowds at Berkshire’s annual meetings in recent years.
After buying Berkshire, Buffett acquired scores of businesses including See’s Candies and Geico, and built huge stakes in public companies such as Apple and Coca-Cola, creating a conglomerate valued at around $670 billion today. However, the 91-year-old deeply regrets purchasing the original textile business.
“I would have been better off if I’d never heard of Berkshire Hathaway,” he told Alice Schroeder in an interview for “The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life.” He compared the company to a “soggy cigar butt” he found on the street.
Still, McGill would be fabulously wealthy today if he had owned a piece of Berkshire for nearly six decades. After all, that’s exactly how Buffett made his fortune.
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