BRK.A vs BRK.B – What is the Difference? [2022 Updated]

Investing in Berkshire Hathaway can become confusing for first time investors as the conglomerate has two different types of stocks. You can access the well-known firm through both types of stocks, but there are some significant differences between them. It’s crucial to understand the fundamental distinctions between each class of Berkshire Hathaway shares as well as the relative worth of each class of shares before investing.

Why does Berkshire have 2 different classes?

Before diving deep into the fundamentals, we must first understand why Berkshire Hathaway decided to have to different kinds of stocks. More than 20 years ago, the multinational conglomerate company is satisfied with their high valued single stock. However, due to market demand, the company decided to issue 517,500 shares of Class B shares for 1/30th of the price of Class A shares along with its equity, the ratio was adjusted to 1/1,500th in 2010.

The main reason why Berkshire decided to issue Class B shares was to allow small investors to buy their stocks at a significantly lower price. This also indicates that Class B shares can potentially be split again in the future. But Buffet assured the public that the Class A shares would never be split as he believes that the stock’s high share price would attract investors with similar minds who are focused on the long-term game rather than just short-term profit gains.

There are two ways for investors to invest in Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway: Class A shares (BRK.A) and Class B shares (BRK.B). Each of the two varieties of shares offers access to the renowned conglomerate. The rights to voting and stock equity are the same for both types of Berkshire shares, and there isn’t much difference between them besides BRK.A offers more voting rights. The sole distinctions between BRK.A and BRK.B are their traded prices and a right that exclusively applies to BRK.A shares: at any time, BRK.A shareholders can convert their shares into BRK.B shares, whereas BRK.B shareholders can never do convert into BRK.A shares. Fundamentally, this is irrelevant because the rights attached to both shares are identical.

Is BRK.A better than BRK.B?

Class B shares are preferred by investors who want flexibility or don’t have a lot of money to invest in Berkshire; those who want to change their position in Berkshire more subtly will probably prefer the significantly lower price point of Class B shares. Class B shares are also divided into two parts: holder option and common stock while Class A shares cannot divide into further parts. An investor has the option to sell off a portion of their ownership to generate profit or to better balance a portfolio by making an equivalent investment in Class B shares.

Class A shares, on the other hand, provide the ease of a long-term investment without much chance of a stock split in the future. Additionally, Class A shares have historically had a tendency to perform slightly better than Class B shares, although this is by no means a given for the future.

Furthermore, Class A shares are not sold to the general public. They also hold more voting power over Class B shares. Specifically, Class B shares initially possess only 1/200th of the voting rights of Class A shares, but is later adjusted to 1/10,000th. Class A shares can also be converted to Class B shares but will never experience a stock split unlike Class B shares where it is possible to be split in the future.

Is BRK.A more profitable?

High-net-worth individuals ought to choose BRK Class A shares because they have lower upfront charges for larger investments. The holding firm operates in a variety of industries, including manufacturing, retailing, services, utilities and energy, banking, property and casualty insurance, and reinsurance. Shares of a company’s stock that pay dividends to owners before common stock payments are paid out are referred to as preferred stock, also known as BRK.B. Prior to common stockholders, preferred investors are entitled to compensation from the company’s assets in the event of bankruptcy. Common shareholders must wait until the corporation pays all dividends, including those that were previously withheld, before receiving their dividend payments under BRK.B stock.

Most people would agree that Berkshire Hathaway is an excellent investment because it often performs about as well as the larger market, and frequently slightly better. The majority of investors would consider both Berkshire Hathaway Class A and Class B shares to be profitable investments. Although Berkshire is heavily invested in Apple and Bank of America, as well as some of its other businesses, such as Geico, others may not think that Berkshire is a good investment for the future. It’s important to remember that past performance doesn’t guarantee future performance will be the same.

Does BRK.B pay dividends?

BRK.B doesn’t pay dividends to its shareholders. Warren Buffet, company founder and CEO, believes that the money can be spent better in other ways such as reinvesting profits in the companies he controls to expand their reach, services, improve their efficiency, create new products as well as improve existing ones. Buffet believes that investing back into the business provides shareholders with more long-term value rather than paying them directly with dividends. However, Buffet’s successor might have different thoughts about paying dividends.

Will the Right to Convert Matter in the Future?

As we already know, shareholders can convert their BRK.A shares to BRK.B shares anytime but shareholders can never convert their BRK.B shares into BRK.A shares. If they want to have their BRK.B shares converted into BRK.A shares, they would first have to sell their BRK.B shares and buy BRK.A shares, this is the only method to have BRK.B shares turned to BRK.A shares. We must remember that BRK.B shares were created so that the average investor can afford to invest and purchase whole shares of Berkshire Hathaway instead of just buying their high-priced stock for a fraction of the price, so it’s safe to assume that the right to convert Class A shares into Class B shares disappear. If they do suddenly decide that BRK.A shareholders gain more benefits over BRK.B shareholders, it would be a terrible business move ultimately provoking all shareholders and probably spark a shareholder uprising.

Which Berkshire Share is Better Historically?

Statistically, BRK.A shares would be a better option if you had access to them, either by having enough money to purchase a share or using a brokerage with fractional shares. They have a little more flexibility, as well as over the long term, BRK.A shares’ value increased 0.025 percent faster than BRK.B shares. That difference is negligible but it’s something — BRK.A shares are also marginally less volatile, and margin troubles are less likely to arise if you own BRK.A over BRK.B in a margin account. But in all honesty, it doesn’t really matter, which is unusual for businesses with multiple share classes.

Should you buy BRK.A or BRK.B?

To put it plainly and avoid burying the lead, it makes little difference which class of shares you purchase when it comes to Berkshire Hathaway’s stock. If you have the cash or are able to purchase fractional shares of BRK.A, they are arguably slightly better because they can be converted into BRK.B shares at any time. However, historically, both shares have performed equally well and they both have ownership rights over the same company. Do not assume that just because Berkshire’s Class A and B shares are so similar that all companies’ Class A and B shares are similar.

Keep in mind that not all companies are like Berkshire, and sometimes the share differences are huge — some companies’ class B shares have no voting rights at all, or are not entitled to dividends — which is not be the case here with Berkshire. It’s sometimes crucial to know which share is best for your circumstance because they occasionally represent two different legal entities that are both a part of the same organization, which can lead to greater or lower dividend taxation.