By Carolina Millan and Eduardo Thomson
(Bloomberg) --The most expensive stocks in the world have nothing to do with Warren Buffett.
While A shares from the Omaha billionaire’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. are usually the first to come to mind when investors think of pricey equities, at $243,000 a piece they’re just the third-most expensive. At the top of the list are two of Latin America’s smaller bourses.
A single share of Chile’s main market operator costs $2.5 million, while owning a piece of Argentina’s will set you back $2.1 million. The outsize prices are because so few shares are in circulation, a legacy of when the only owners were local brokerages required to have a stake in the exchange.
The rule was phased out three years ago in Argentina, where holders will soon get 250,000 shares of a new company for each one they currently own, and is in the process of being scrapped in Chile where 48 shares will be split into 48 million.
Shares of Argentina’s Mercado de Valores Buenos Aires SA rose 210 percent last year, more than four times as much as the benchmark index, on speculation local capital markets are poised to take off under a new government. The Bolsa de Comercio de Santiago didn’t fare as well, sinking 24 percent in the year’s single transaction in the stock.
To be sure, the outsize prices say little about the companies’ total value. The Chilean bourse has a market capitalization of just $122 million, while Argentina’s operator is worth only $383 million. They have a long way to go to catch up with Berkshire Hathaway’s $399 billion.
--With assistance from Shin Pei.To contact the reporters on this story: Carolina Millan in Buenos Aires at [email protected] ;Eduardo Thomson in Santiago at [email protected] To contact the editors responsible for this story: Arie Shapira at [email protected] ;Jeremy Herron at [email protected] Brendan Walsh