Since Warren Buffett took over Berkshire Hathaway in 1965, the company has made dozens of acquisitions of companies in many different markets—everything from insurance to candy. And, while it’s easy to rank them by the most expensive, or biggest mistakes, one of the harder things to evaluate is which companies have been the most valuable.
Earlier this year, Berkshire’s Class A stocks skyrocketed to more than $250,000 per share—a personal record for Berkshire. And, while the progression to that mile marker has been far from quick, there are a few acquisition that can easily be identified as being instrumental in helping Berkshire become one of the top companies in the world.
1. MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company
Purchased in October 1999, this company was Berkshire’s first move into utilities and was the basis for Berkshire Hathaway Energy, which currently features more than a half dozen other energy companies including PacifiCorp and NV Energy Inc. It’s estimated that Berkshire Hathaway Energy contributed around $2.1 billion in 2015—or around 9% of Berkshire’s total earnings for the year.
2. Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF)
Purchased in November 2009, BNSF is one of the largest capital-intensive business. The railroad is might seem like a little bit of an unusual move for Buffett, but with his reliance on old-fashioned mechanical businesses, BNSF makes perfect sense. In 2015, the company’s net earnings were $4.2 billion—twice that of MidAmerican, listed above.
3. Precision Castparts Corp
Purchased in August 2015, this is one of the most recent acquisitions by Berkshire Hathaway, and it was one of the most expensive deals Berkshire ever made. The company cost around $32.7 billion and, thus far, hasn’t really had as much time to prove itself as the others. Regardless, it brought in a sizable $1.5 billion to Berkshire in 2015 and helped push Berkshire to record earnings for the quarter. And that’s just in the first few months—I predict that in time, it will become one of Berkshire’s better acquisitions.