Investors who owned stocks in the 2010s generally experienced some big gains. In fact, the SPDR S&P 500's (NYSE: SPY) total return for the decade was 250.5%. But there’s no question some big-name stocks did much better than others along the way.
Berkshire’s Difficult Decade: One underperformer of the last decade was Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE: BRK-A) (NYSE: BRK-B).
Berkshire struggled throughout the past decade to keep pace with a bull market that was led by high-growth, high-valuation tech stocks. Buffett is one of the most iconic value investors of all time, but value stocks have underperformed in a climate of historically low interest rates and skyrocketing corporate debt.
One of Buffett’s best moves of the past 10 years was his decision to go all-in on Apple, Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL) in May 2016. At the time, Apple shares were trading at around $110 per share. Roughly five years later, Apple is now trading at $444 and it’s by far Berkshire’s largest holding, worth around $111.5 billion.
But Buffett also had plenty of missteps in the past decade as well. Buffett invested in airline stocks in 2016 only to sell them all in early 2020 near the market bottom during the COVID-19 sell-off.
Berkshire’s Class B shares started the 2010s trading at around $70 after a 50-to-1 stock split in early 2010. Berkshire hit its decade low of $65.35 in late 2011. Berkshire shares then began a steady march higher over the next three years, peaking at $152.94 in late 2014.
From there, Berkshire spent most of the next two years trading sideways in a wide range of between $125 and $150. The stock finally broke out to the upside in late 2016.
2020 And Beyond: Berkshire ultimately peaked at $231.61 in early 2020, its high point of the last 10 years. However, Berkshire shares were hammered in early 2020 during the broad market COVID-19 sell-off, and the stock dropped to as low as $159.50, its lowest point since 2017. While the stock has since rebounded to around $210, it has still delivered underwhelming overall performance over the past 10 years.
In fact, $1,000 worth of Berkshire stock in 2010 would be worth about $2,614 today, assuming reinvested dividends.
Looking ahead, analysts expect Berkshire’s climb to resume in the coming months. The average price target among the three analysts covering the stock is $223.45, suggesting 6.7% upside from current levels.
President Barack Obama meets with Warren Buffett in the Oval Office in 2011. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.