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Friday, August 3, 2012 - 11:00
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Friday, August 3, 2012 - 11:00
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Friday, August 3, 2012 - 11:00

Forget Warren Buffett, Follow These 3 Copycats Instead

Friday, August 03, 2012 11:00 AM

There is no question that Warren Buffett has had a great run as an investor and money manager. His ability to spot great deals and hold companies through thick and thin is truly inspirational. Many highly effective investing lessons can be learned by studying how the Oracle of Omaha operates his business.

It is said wisdom comes with age and despite Buffett's youthful demeanor at 81, there is no telling when he will decide to step down or is forced out by the clock. He took the wise step and announced a successor in Berkshire Hathaway's (NYSE: BRK-A) annual letter this year, though he cleverly didn't reveal a specific name.

I believe his age could serve as a detriment for his future investment ventures, especially because it is not certain who the successor will be and whether this person will be as wise as Buffett when it comes to managing money.

How Buffett obtained his success is no secret so, as you can imagine, this openness has spawned a sea of copycats in the financial world. These copycats have also been able to enjoy a huge amount of wealth, not to mention they have learned a few tricks of their own.

Here are three of my favorite Buffett copycats to follow…

1. Loews Corp. (NYSE: L)
Managed by the Tisch family, which still holds 25% of the shares, Loews is a conglomerate of five distinct and well-diversified businesses. These include 90% holdings in commercial property and casualty insurance provider CNA Financial (NYSE: CNA), 50% of oil driller Diamond Offshore (NYSE: DO) and 66% of natural gas producer Boardwalk Pipeline Partners (NYSE: BO), which are all publically-traded companies. The other two businesses are wholly-owned, consisting of the Loews Hotel chain and an energy exploration and production company.

Of course, investors could simply build a portfolio of the publically-owned companies controlled by Loews. However, by purchasing Lowes directly, investors get the proven expertise of a risk-adverse and patient CEO like James S. Tisch, who's often compared with Buffett for his high-value, patient investing philosophy.

Shares of Loews, currently trade around $39, a 22% discount to Loews' estimated value. The stock has recently pulled back to below the 50-day simple moving average, creating a solid buying opportunity. I would not be surprised to see this company in the $50 range within 18 months.

2. Leucadia National (NYSE: LUK)
Based in New York City, this company is both similar yet strikingly different from Berkshire Hathaway. The difference may just be the edge needed in today's volatile marketplace. Leucadia consists of a variety of companies that operate in various segments, including plastics, lumber, energy, real estate, hotels and a casino.

While Buffett generally targets large, well-run businesses with profitable track records, these managers seek out the distressed with an eye on turnarounds. The company's two asset managers -- Ian M. Cumming and Joseph Steinberg, specialize in turning Buffett-like companies that have slipped from grace back into their former glory. Buffett has even had several joint ventures with Leucadia, namely a commercial real estate firm called Berkadia Commercial Mortgage.

There is strong technical support at the $21 level on the daily price chart. Buying on the first sign of a bounce from this support level makes investing sense.

3. Markel Corp. (NYSE: MKL)
This is a niche insurance company based in Richmond, Va., focusing on long-term premium profits, rather than having the lowest prices. What's Buffett-style about this company is its $1.9 billion stock portfolio. A careful investment of collected premium has allowed Markel to build an incredibly substantial portfolio. Markel targets large global companies that dominate their industries, such as Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) and Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM).

Following a strategy similar to Berkshire Hathaway, the company's president, Tom Gayner, has been obtaining control of an assortment of other companies since 2005. The acquisitions generally require no debt increase and are planned for the long-term.

The technical support on the daily chart is about $425 and buying any breakout close above $433 appears sensible for traders wanting a piece of this company.

Risks to Consider: Although these firms sport the same investing style as Buffett's, treat any potential investment in one or more of them as you would in any other company. Markets are very volatile, so even though these companies appear to be very stable, anything can happen in the stock market. Always do your own due diligence, use stops and position size wisely when investing.

Action to Take --> I like all three of these Buffett copycats. Wait for the technical triggers listed above to enter trades and remember to always use stops based on your own personal risk tolerance and account size.

David Goodboy does not personally hold positions in any securities mentioned in this article.
StreetAuthority LLC owns shares of BRK, XOM in one or more of its “real money” portfolios.