Berkshire Corporate Performance Vs The S & P 500 Swot Analysis

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Register to read the introduction… Last year, we contracted for 25 of these, scheduled to cost $3.1 billion in aggregate. These transactions ranged from $1.9 million to $1.1 billion in size. Charlie and I encourage these deals. They deploy capital in activities that fit with our existing businesses and that will be managed by our corps of expert managers. The result is no more work for us and more earnings for you. Many more of these bolt-on deals will be made in future years. In aggregate, they will be meaningful.


Last year we invested $3.5 billion in the surest sort of bolt-on: the purchase of additional shares in two wonderful businesses that we already controlled. In one case – Marmon – our purchases brought us to the 100% ownership we had signed up for in 2008. In the other instance – Iscar – the Wertheimer family elected to exercise a put option it held, selling us the 20% of the business it retained when we bought control in 2006. These purchases added about $300 million pre-tax to our current earning power and also delivered us $800 million of cash. Meanwhile, the same nonsensical accounting rule that I described in last year’s letter required that we enter these purchases on our books at $1.8 billion less than we paid, a process that reduced Berkshire’s book value. (The charge was made to “capital in excess of par value”; figure that one out.) This weird accounting, you should understand, instantly increased Berkshire’s excess of intrinsic value over book value by the same $1.8
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At Berkshire, we much prefer owning a non-controlling but substantial portion of a wonderful company to owning 100% of a so-so business; it’s better to have a partial interest in the Hope diamond than to own all of a rhinestone. Going by our yearend holdings, our portion of the “Big Four’s” 2013 earnings amounted to $4.4 billion. In the earnings we report to you, however, we include only the dividends we receive – about $1.4 billion last year. But make no mistake: The $3 billion of their earnings we don’t report is every bit as valuable to us as the portion Berkshire records. The earnings that these four companies retain are often used for repurchases of their own stock – a move that enhances our share of future earnings – as well as for funding business opportunities that usually turn out to be advantageous. All that leads us to expect that the per-share earnings of these four investees will grow substantially over time. If they do, dividends to Berkshire will increase and, even more important, our unrealized capital gains will, too. (For the four, unrealized gains already totaled $39 billion at yearend.) Our flexibility in capital allocation – our willingness to invest large sums passively in non-controlled businesses – gives us a significant advantage over companies that limit themselves to acquisitions they can operate. Woody Allen stated the general idea when he said: “The advantage of being bi-sexual is that it doubles your chances for a date on Saturday night.” Similarly, our appetite for either operating businesses or passive investments doubles our chances of finding sensible uses for our endless gusher of cash. ************ Late in 2009, amidst the gloom of the Great Recession, we agreed to buy BNSF, the largest purchase in Berkshire’s history. At the time, I called the transaction an “all-in wager on the economic future of the United

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