This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
TheStreet Open House

Warren Buffett Quietly Reshaping Berkshire Hathaway

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) rarely loses a deal fight, which makes Monday's news that the legendary investor was outbid for reinsurer Transatlantic Holdings (TRH) seem like a strange sight.

However, the fact that Berkshire lost out in a hotly contested bid to a competitor a nearly a tenth of its size in Alleghany Corporation (Y) should not be so surprising given the Omaha, Neb.-based holding company's move away from its traditional reinsurance and insurance base and its shift to a more diversified portfolio of industrial companies.

Warren Buffett.

After Berkshire's $9 billion acquisition of chemicals company Lubrizol earlier this year, adding to its $26.5 billion purchase of railroad Burlington Northern Santa Fe in 2009 and $4.5 billion acquisition of industrials conglomerate Marmon in 2007, the company has altered a quarter of its overall revenue and profit.

"This isn't an insurance company anymore, it's a defensive conglomerate," says Tom Lewandowski an analyst at Edward Jones about Berkshire's transformation through recent deals.

While the billions spent on takeovers in recent years may look like a tack in strategy from minority investments and an insurance focus, Lewandowski says, "Berkshire has got where they are today because they haven't really changed a lot." Berkshire, as an investment management company, simply is sticking to its style of buying companies that need a giant funding source and have an attractive risk return, even if the nature of its investments are changing, says Lewandowski.

>>View Warren Buffett's Portfolio

Overall, the company, which may soon generate $20 billion in annual cash from its operations, needs to put that money to work for its shareholders who've grown accustomed to seeing shares rise faster than the S&P 500 Index. Signaling the need to make new types of industrials takeovers and bank investments, the company's total insurance group's revenue and profitability is still below pre-crisis levels.

With quarterly cash stockpiles over $34 billion, Berkshire's been able to spend billions in new types of investments as the global economic slump has turned many of America's blue chips into attractively priced, even distressed investments.

1 of 2

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
DOW 17,055.00 -43.45 -0.25%
S&P 500 1,998.78 -4.59 -0.23%
NASDAQ 4,588.2060 +7.9350 0.17%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs