CEO Warren Buffett says to earn customers' trust, "you do it one grain of sand at a time."
Rank in Insurance: Property and Casualty: 1
(Previous rank: 1)
Overall score: 7.12
Why it's admiredWarren Buffett's legendary investing genius and seemingly clairvoyant understanding of markets has kept his firm (which includes holdings in insurance, retail and energy, among others) a perennial favorite among executives. Last year Buffett made news again when he announced Berkshire would make its biggest-ever acquisition, Burlington Northern Santa Fe for $26 billion. When the deal closed in February, Berkshire replaced the railroad on the S&P 500. Berkshire's class A and B shares have been some of the best-performing stocks ever, last year increasing in book value by 19.8%. That's less than the 26% the S&P returned, but in his much-anticipated annual letter to shareholders last month, Buffett explained that while Berkshire has in some years lagged the index when the overall market gained, "We have consistently done better than the S&P in the eleven years during which it delivered negative results. In other words, our defense has been better than our offense, and that's likely to continue."In fitting form, he closed with a quip after inviting shareholders to attend his annual meeting: "P.S." he wrote. "Come by rail." --C.T.
Should Berkshire Hathaway be admired, or what?
Berkshire Hathaway stats
Industry: Insurance: Property and Casualty