What is 'Berkshire Hathaway'
Berkshire Hathaway is a holding company for a multitude of businesses run by Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett. Berkshire Hathaway is headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska and began as just a group of textile milling plants, but when Buffett became the controlling shareholder in the mid 1960s he began a progressive strategy of diverting cash flows from the core business into other investments.
Insurance subsidiaries tend to represent the largest pieces of Berkshire Hathaway, but the company manages hundreds of diverse businesses all over the world.
BREAKING DOWN 'Berkshire Hathaway'
Because of Berkshire Hathaway's long history of operating success and keen stock market investments, the company has grown to be one of the largest in the world in terms of market capitalization. Berkshire stock trades on the New York Stock Exchange in two classes, A shares and B shares. The A shares are noted for their very high prices - in excess of $100,000 per share in 2007.
Early in his career Buffett came across the novel idea to use the "float" from his insurance subsidiaries to invest elsewhere, mainly into focused stock picks that would be held for the long term. Buffett has long eschewed a diversified stock portfolio in favor of a handful of trusted investments that would be overweighted in order to leverage the anticipated return. Over time, his investing prowess became so noted that Berkshire's annual shareholder meetings became a mecca for value investing proponents and the focus of intense media scrutiny.