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Warren Buffett Portfolio Losers: Iron Mountain

OMAHA, Neb. (TheStreet) -- Iron Mountain (IRM), the information management company that has become a favorite among the public stocks owned by Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B), is suffering one of the biggest markets losses amid the big market rally on Tuesday.

Earnings expectations that came in lower than Street consensus and a new share repurchase program drove the Buffett portfolio holding down 10% on Tuesday morning on heavy trading.

Iron Mountain's 2011 earnings estimate is the issue for investors. The information management company said it expects 2011 earnings of $1.17 to $1.26 per share on revenue of $3.2 billion to $3.265 billion. Street consensus is $1.31 per share on revenue of $3.33 billion for 2011.

Iron Mountain is hosting its annual investor day on Tuesday and released earnings estimates for 2010 and 2011. Iron Mountain expects 2010 earnings of $1.07 to $1.16 per share on revenue of $3.12 billion to $3.16 billion. The Street consensus is $1.12 per share on revenue of $3.15 billion.

The king of long-term investing, Warren Buffett might except a bad quarter or two, but Buffett hates share-repurchase programs. Concurrent with the earnings outlook disappointment, Iron Mountain announced its second share repurchase program of the year. Iron Mountain authorized up to an additional $200 million in repurchases of its stock, or approximately 5% of its outstanding common stock. Earlier in the year, Iron Mountain authorized a $150 million share repurchase program, of which $55 million remains.

Stock buyback programs have become a C-suite staple in 2010, with activity heating up as corporate management looks to bolster short term earnings, and is reluctant to spend cash on more aggressive actions like hiring and expansion.


Berkshire Hathaway has never done a share repurchase in its history, though Buffett has been buying more Iron Mountain shares. In the final quarter of 2009, Buffett doubled his stake in Iron Mountain, the biggest increase of any stock in the Berkshire Hathaway portfolio in the final quarter of 2009 -- from 3.3 million shares in the third quarter to 7 million shares at the end of 2009.

In the most recent quarterly portfolio holdings filing from Buffett, for the June 30, 2010 quarter, the Iron Mountain stake was up to 8 million shares.

--Written by Eric Rosenbaum in New York.



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