Rank in Insurance: Property and Casualty: 1
(Previous rank: 1)
Overall score: 6.88
Why it's admiredBerkshire Hathaway maintains its third-place spot this year. CEO Warren Buffett remains an admired champ, both for his judgments about stocks and for having built a huge operating company besides.
One recent stock-market judgment: Berkshire Hathaway increased its stake in Johnson & Johnson in 2010, from about 28 million shares to around 45 million, despite J&J's neverending product recalls during the year. In buying, Buffett followed his usual practice of picking up stocks when they're out-of-favor, betting on them to rise when trouble recedes.
Berkshire's most dramatic investment in 2010 was its $26 billion purchase of Burlington Northern Santa Fe. The railroad went on to generate more than $1 billion of operating earnings per quarter for Berkshire, making it a large factor in the company's 2010 increase of 13% in book value.
In Buffett's annual letter to Berkshire investors, he emphasized that American business, despite the economic uncertainties that persist, will continue to thrive. Berkshire, Buffett said, is backing that opinion with cash. "In 2011," he wrote, "we will set a new record for capital spending -- $8 billion -- and spend all of the $2 billion increase in the United States." --S.D.
Should Berkshire Hathaway be admired, or what?
Berkshire Hathaway stats