Everybody has heard of America’s greatest investor, Warren Buffett, and his corporation, Berkshire Hathaway. What most people don’t realize is just how enormous and prosperous Berkshire really is. Here are some mind-boggling numbers that prove what an immense enterprise Buffett has created.
- You would have to sell around 382 shares of Google’s Class A stock to get enough money to buy just one share of Berkshire Hathaway’s Class A stock. On March 9, 2015, one share of Berkshire Hathaway’s Class A stock (NYSE: BRK.A) was worth as much as 382 shares of Google Inc.’s Class A stock (NASDAQ: GOOGL). On the morning of March 9, BRK.A was trading at $219,865 a share, and GOOGL was trading at $574.87 a share. If you divided $219,865 by 574, you would get 382.
- What is even stranger is you would have to sell almost four shares of Berkshire Hathaway’s Class B (NYSE: BRK.B) stock to get enough money to buy one share of Google’s Class B stock (NASDAQ: GOOG). On March 10, 2015, one share of BRK.B was selling for $143.85, while one share of GOOG was selling for $559.44. The reason for the disparity in prices is that BRK.B is a newer and more popular issue than BRK.A. GOOG and GOOGL have been around for about the same amount of time.
- The Gecko and his friends cost Buffett nearly $1 billion. Bloomberg Business reported that GEICO spent $935 million on advertising in 2013, more than $280 million more than its closest competitor, Allstate, according to Property Casualty 360. All that advertising paid off; GEICO issued $18.57 billion worth of auto insurance premiums in 2013, and GEICO’s premium income grew by 2% or $2.08 billion in 2013. That means Uncle Warren can afford to spend $1 billion to make $2 billion.
- Something in your home or your driveway was probably shipped on Berkshire Hathaway’s trains. Its holdings include the assets of 400 different railroad lines merged into the Burlington Northern Santa Fe, or BNSF, Railway. The BNSF operates 8,000 locomotives and owns 13,500 bridges. The BNSF operates an average of 1,600 freight trains a day on 32,500 miles of track. It shipped 10 million carloads of freight in 2014 and employed 48,000 people. If that was not enough, the BNSF hauls 50 million packages during the average holiday season and loads a new car or truck on its trains every 15 seconds.
- If you have ever bought a pack of cigarettes, a pack of gum, a candy bar, or a bag of peanuts at a convenience store, there’s a good chance you are a Berkshire Hathaway customer. Berkshire’s subsidiary McLane delivers food, candy, tobacco, and even alcohol to 45,000 retail locations. To keep all those stores fully stocked, McLane operates 21 distribution centers, 1,200 semi-tractors, and 2,000 refrigerated trailers. It’s not just convenience stores and gas stations that McLane services. It also supplies fast food restaurants like Pizza Hut and national retail chains such as Family Dollar.
- If you eat hamburgers, hot dogs, and French fries anywhere on Earth, you are probably Berkshire Hathaway’s customer. Berkshire subsidiary H.J. Heinz sells 650 million bottles of ketchup a year and is the number one ketchup in more than 50 countries. Heinz ketchup is now available in 200 countries. If you need to lose weight after eating all that junk food, you could still be Berkshire Hathaway’s customer because Heinz also makes the Weight Watchers Smart Ones diet meals.
- You would have to sell around 731 shares of Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) to be get enough money to buy a share of Berkshire Hathaway’s class A stock (BRK.A). On the morning of March 10, 2015, Amazon was trading at $371.02 while BRK.A was trading at $217,148 a share.
- If every one of its operations were to shut down tomorrow, Berkshire Hathaway’s assets (real estate, equipment, etc.) would still be worth almost 10 times what those of Amazon are worth. On Dec. 31, 2015, Berkshire’s assets were valued at $526.19 billion; Amazon’s assets were valued at $54.5 billion on the same day.
- If you just built a house or remodeled one, you probably used some material made by a Berkshire Hathaway company. Berkshire’s current holdings include the Acme Brick Company, which operates 25 brick factories in the United States; Benjamin Moore Paints; an insulation maker, Johns Manville; and flooring maker Shaw Industries Group. If you want to sell that house, another Berkshire subsidiary, Home Services America, provides realty services in 16 states.
- When you get engaged or married, there is a strong possibility that Berkshire Hathaway will provide the ring. Buffett’s holdings now include Helzberg Diamonds, Ben Bridge Jeweler, Borsheims Fine Jewelry, and jewelry manufacturer Richline Group. That makes Berkshire Hathaway the only company I know of that manufactures both bricks and engagement rings.
The truly astounding thing is that this is just a small sampling of Berkshire Hathaway’s money and holdings. Warren Buffett has built one of the greatest business empires the world has ever seen, and it is continuing to grow every day.