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.

White Mountains ( WTM) at about $620 a share and Markel ( MKL) at $320 a share are (surprise) both insurers. White Mountains is engaged in the property and casualty insurance and reinsurance businesses, principally in the U.S. Markel is engaged in marketing and underwriting insurance products and programs. Buffet owns over 15% of White Mountains via his subsidiary General Re. The chairman of White Mountains is Jack Byrne, who was instrumental in the recovery and success of Geico.

Byrne also recently took over the chairmanship of Overstock.com ( OSTK) when his son Patrick stepped down as chairman (he kept the CEO slot). Jack's other son, Mark, also runs West End Capital, which manages fixed-income investments. Who's the largest investor in that fund? Berkshire.

Although Buffett doesn't own shares in Markel, the conspiracy subplot continues, as Markel owns a sizable chunk of both White Mountains and Berkshire. In August, Markel management announced plans for a share repurchase program for up to $200 million.

Why does Buffett like insurance companies so much? Think of insurance companies as hedge funds that get to charge whatever management fee they want, and they also get to keep 100% of the profits instead of just 20%. The "investors" in the hedge fund are the folks paying premiums each month. If the cost of float is kept at zero, then all the "investors" really see is their money back and no more. All of the profits that are made when the premiums are invested are kept by the owners of the insurance company. The economics are much better than those of a hedge fund, which has to return 80% of the profits to its investors.

I think now is the right time to be purchasing shares of the big insurers. These stocks are getting shunned by the market for fear that hurricane liabilities will hurt them moving forward. But those fears are unjustified: After the insurers weather the storm, they'll just hike up their premiums and act as if nothing ever happened.

Berkshire stock has languished between $80,000 and $90,000 a share for almost two years. I think a steep wall of worry has built up that has irrationally kept the price down. The stock merits a buy here.

The bricks in the wall of worry:
  • The AIG Scandal and Gen Re: Gen Re has been a nonstop headache for Buffett since he took it over. Insufficient reserves for losses and a mess in the derivatives on the balance sheet cost him money initially. Once that got cleaned up, General Re was embroiled in a scandal caused by executives aiding AIG in hiding losses. This, too, shall pass, but it has kept new shareholders at bay.
  • What will happen when Buffett dies?: It must be depressing for Buffett to have to read speculation regarding his death every time someone writes a story about the stock. Many investors are sitting on the sidelines waiting for the predicted 10%-20% drop in the stock once Buffett shuffles off to his eternal reward so they can load up.

    Well, it's not going to happen. The stock might even go straight up when Lou Simpson takes over on the stock investing side and Ajit Jain takes over on the operations side. As Munger said at Berkshire's 2005 annual meeting, "The best investment we ever made could be the search fee we paid to find Ajit Jain. Getting the right people is more important than getting the right business."
  • Hurricane damage: Katrina, Wilma and Rita caused some severe losses at Berkshire. However, it quite possibly has the strongest balance sheet in the world, and even catastrophes like this weren't enough to cause any major upheaval.

    Buffett always says to buy businesses that will be here 20 years from now, and Berkshire is clearly going to be a survivor.
  • The stock has also been held down a bit by selling by the foundation of Buffett's late wife, Susan, as it diversifies its holdings.

    The $300 club exists for a reason. Although in general I like to dig through the scrap heap and look for stocks trading for less than $2, I do think the $300 club will turn into the $1,000 club before long.

    P.S. from TheStreet.com Editor-in-Chief, Dave Morrow:
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    James Altucher is a managing partner at Formula Capital, an alternative asset management firm that runs several quantitative-based hedge funds as well as a fund of hedge funds. He is also the author of Trade Like a Hedge Fund and Trade Like Warren Buffett. At the time of publication, neither Altucher nor his fund had a position in any of the securities mentioned in this column, although positions may change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Altucher appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.

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