Have you ever wondered where the multinational conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway got its name? Warren Buffett, often referred to as ‘the Oracle of Omaha,’ purchased a failing textile firm called Berkshire Hathaway in 1962.
And the rest is history.
While the original business lost money and eventually closed, it did give Buffett the means to begin investing in other far more successful businesses, ultimately giving rise to the giant conglomerate that is Berkshire Hathaway today.
Functioning as a holding company, Berkshire Hathaway is one of the biggest conglomerates in the world. It owns some 55 companies and has a minority stake in dozens of others. The company has a market cap of over $485 billion and boasts the single highest stock price in the world: Its class A shares traded at over $268,000 each as of August 2017.
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Buffett has changed his strategy over the years, moving from acquiring a stake in companies that are priced below their market value, to owning a controlling interest the businesses he buys today. Here’s a look at the top 10 companies currently owned by Berkshire Hathaway.
Note: Unless otherwise indicated, all financial data was taken from the Berkshire Hathaway 2016 Annual Report.
Kraft Heinz Co. (KHC)
With a market cap of $103.7 billion, the Kraft Heinz portfolio includes over 200 global brands in over 40 countries with popular names such as Ore-Ida, Planters, Velveeta, Weight Watchers, and Jell-O under its umbrella. It’s the fifth-largest food and beverage company in the world with net sales of $26.5 billion in 2016.
Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad
As one of the largest railroad companies in North America, Burlington Northern Santa Fe operates over 32,000 miles of track in 28 states and three Canadian provinces. The company had 2016 revenue of $19.6 billion.
Warren Buffett acquired the remaining 49% of shares he didn’t already own in this Maryland-based insurance company in 1996, making it a wholly owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway. By market share, it’s the second-largest auto insurance company in America with roughly 10% of the auto insurance market. The company insures about 24 million vehicles and has $32 billion in assets.
Fruit of the Loom
Underwear, T-shirts, and humans dressed as fruit are just a few things for which the Fruit of the Loom is known.
Berkshire Hathaway ponied up $835 million to rescue Fruit of the Loom from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2001. The company manufacturers underwear, intimate apparel, and casual wear under the Fruit of the Loom, BVD, Russell, Lofteez, Funpals and Fungals, and Underoos brands. It had 2016 revenue of approximately $4.2 billion.
Precision Castparts Corp.
Precision Castparts is a global manufacturer of metal products serving the aerospace, military, power, and industrial markets. The company has over 30,000 employees worldwide and had 2015 sales of about $10 billion. This 60-year-old company is headquartered in Portland, Oregon, and was acquired by Berkshire Hathaway in 2016.
Shaw Industries Group
Berkshire Hathaway acquired this global flooring manufacturer in 2000. Its portfolio of brands includes Anderson Hardwood Floors, US Floors, HGTV HOME, Tuftex, Shaw Floors, Shawgrass, Spectra, and Patcraft. Shaw Industries’ 2016 revenue was estimated at $4.4 billion.
The McLane Company was acquired by Berkshire Hathaway in 2003 for roughly $1.5 billion. McLane is a grocery and foodstuffs supply chain provider for 110,000 convenience store, drug store, mass merchant, and restaurant customers across the U.S.. It also distributes alcoholic beverages through its subsidiary Empire Distributors. The company had revenue of roughly $48 billion in 2016.
The Marmon Group
Though you may not be familiar with the brand name, The Marmon Group is a web of 185 independent service and manufacturing businesses serving 15 different business sectors and divided into four main operating groups: Marmon Energy Services, Marmon Engineered Components, Marmon Food, Beverage, and Water Technologies, and Marmon Retail and Highway Technologies. Berkshire Hathaway acquired the company in 2008. It employs roughly 20,000 people worldwide and had 2014 revenues in excess of $8 billion.
Clayton Homes and its affiliated brands, including Golden West Homes, Cavalier Homes, and Marlette Homes, is a diversified building company that designs, builds, and finances manufactured homes, site-built homes, modular homes, and tiny homes as well as military barracks, college dorms, and apartment buildings. Berkshire Hathaway acquired Clayton in 2003 in a deal worth $1.7 billion. In 2016, Clayton sold over 42,000 homes and generated revenue of $4.23 billion.
Forest River was founded in 1996 and is a leading manufacturer of RVs, travel trailers, pop-up campers, cargo trailers, buses, pontoon boats, and commercial vehicles. Berkshire Hathaway acquired the company in 2005 from its owner and founder, Peter Liegl. The company employs over 10,000 people and generated about $5 billion in revenue in 2016.