Warren Buffett's Exclusive $300 Club
This column was originally published on RealMoney on Nov. 9 at 1:44 p.m. EST. It's being republished as a bonus for TheStreet.com readers.
With Google sitting in the $300 club for quite some time now, it's worth taking a look at some of the other members of this rarefied group. A common thread among all of them is their link to one man (A Sith lord? A Jedi master?) sitting in a 10-person office in Omaha, Neb.
The granddaddy of them all, and also the member of the S&P 500 with the largest amount of cash on the books at $43 billion, is Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A). The Class A shares trade for about $90,000; the company is run by Warren Buffett, the consensus pick for greatest investor ever (it's worth mentioning that I wrote the book on this).
Berkshire's primary business is property and casualty insurance and reinsurance. If run properly, an insurance business can have a "cost of float" of zero -- that is, you spend no more in payouts than you collect in premiums. Berkshire is also involved in many other diversified businesses such as furniture rental, newspapers and candy, to name a few.Next up on the list of the members of the $300 club is Berkshire's corporate cousin Wesco Financial (WSC), coming in at $350. Wesco, like Berkshire, is a diversified holding company whose primary businesses is insurance, but it also has a furniture rental and industrial services segment. Wesco is run by Berkshire Vice Chairman Charlie Munger and is 80% owned by Berkshire. The Washington Post (WPO) trades at $750 per share. The Post is another one of Buffett's largest holdings; he's held it since it was trading below book value in the early 1970s. Berkshire holds over 21% of Post shares outstanding, and Buffett is on the company's board. The Washington Post Co. is a diversified media and education concern whose principal businesses include newspaper and magazine publishing, television broadcasting, cable television systems, electronic information services and educational and career services.
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