As it turns out, Berkshire recently approached the kidney disease specialist about increasing its 14% stake in the company, which led to a formal agreement “that reflects the fact they’re a passive investor and this is a friendly relationship,” according to Kim Rivera, DaVita’s chief legal officer.
That’s too bad, considering that DaVita HealthCare Partners Inc (NYSE:DVA) was the first company I singled out in February as a potential acquisition candidate for Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A) after it announced a joint arrangement with 3G Capital to acquire H.J. Heinz Company (NYSE:HNZ).
After all, Berkshire had added nearly 180,000 shares of DaVita to its portfolio in the fourth quarter of 2012 alone, and it had more than enough cash to buy the remaining $9.5 billion in shares that it didn’t already own at the time.
What’s more, DaVita HealthCare Partners Inc (NYSE:DVA)’s $4.4 billion acquisition of HealthCare Partners last year was a great move to diversify away from its focus on kidney disease and toward the operation of 152 profitable general health care clinics.
Still, a wild card remained with the fact that Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A)’s position was likely opened not by Warren Buffett, but instead by one of his younger investing prodigies in Ted Weschler or Todd Combs. As a result, I noted that Buffett might have required some convincing that DaVita HealthCare Partners Inc (NYSE:DVA) would be able to effectively fit in with the rest of Berkshire’s many subsidiaries.
Today’s news, however, proves that certainly wasn’t outside the realm of possibility. The new agreement, for its part, prohibits Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A)’s stake from rising above 25% and will remain in effect for as long as Berkshire retains an equity stake of 15% of more.
Solid first-quarter earnings
If that weren’t good enough, DaVita HealthCare Partners Inc (NYSE:DVA)’s first-quarter earnings report Tuesday showed the world why Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A) likes the company so much. As of this writing, shares hit a new 52-week-high and are trading up more than 9% after the company said sales rose more than 50% year-over-year to $2.83 billion, and adjusted earnings came in at $2.07 per share. Both numbers beat average analyst estimates, which called for earnings per share of $1.80 on revenue of $2.79 billion.