Buffett: Aged Companies ‘r’ Us

I put this together yesterday to satisfy my curiosity: A list of the top dozen Berkshire Hathaway holdings by size, with their founding dates. Turns out one of the better predictors of being a core Warren Buffett holding is being founded in the 19th century. The only 20th century companies are in bold, and IBM took that count from two to three. [-]



  1. Also: 11 of 12 are older than the octogenarian himself.

  2. His last (or next-to-last) major acquisition, BNSF Railway, is a youthful 160-year old organization (dating from incorporation of earliest predecessor).

  3. Rather than look at it as a negative, could be viewed as indicating the durability of the franchises listed which is testament to how well they have apparently been managed to stick around through all of the massive changes in the economy…while I am no fan of IBM, for a company whose CEO famously said "there is a market for about FIVE computers globally", they've adapted OK since then

    • Paul Kedrosky says:

      Agreed. I made that argument at lunch today with a friend. You could argue that longevity is a way of arbing away company-specific malfeasance risk.

    • buffet said that he wanted a bus so good that an idiot manager could manage it because sooner or later one will

  4. Best part — Hollerith company was actually founded in 1896 and the 1911 date refers to the merger date! Nineteenth century FTW!


  5. Right out of the Built to Last book as well. So if you could pick the right list of companies founded today, in 120 years if they are still around, you'll be recognized as a genius and be quite wealthy. As I recall, we start about 700,000 businesses per year and if you give me 10 years to pick my list, I have to hit 10 out of 7,000,000. Better get to work, make my picks then get in the cryogenic freezer so i can cash out…