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The Warren Buffett Empire in One Giant Chart

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Most people know Berkshire Hathaway as the massive conglomerate that serves as the investment vehicle for Warren Buffett’s $83 billion fortune. However, far fewer people know what this giant does, and how it actually makes its money!

The Warren Buffett Series

Part 3: The Warren Buffett Empire

Today’s infographic breaks down the many companies and investments that Berkshire Hathaway owns.

It’s the third part of the Warren Buffett Series, which we’ve done in partnership with finder.com, a personal finance site that helps people make better decisions – whether they want to jump on the cryptocurrency craze or follow Buffett’s more traditional path to financial success.

The Warren Buffet Series: The Early YearsInside Warren Buffett's BrainPart 3Warren Buffett's Biggest Wins and FailsBest Buffett Quotes

Explore the full-screen version of this graphic

The Warren Buffett Empire in One Giant Chart

The Warren Buffett Empire in One Giant Chart

This giant infographic is best viewed using the full-size version. Also, don’t forget to check out Part 1 and Part 2 of our Warren Buffett Series.

If you look at any ranking of the world’s richest people, you will notice that most of the names derive their wealth from building individual, successful companies.

Topping today’s rich list is Jeff Bezos, who started Amazon in 1994. Further down, you see familiar names like Bill Gates (Microsoft), Amancio Ortega (Zara), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Larry Ellison (Oracle), and so on.

Warren Buffett, who appears third on such a list, is completely unique in this sense. Through his holding company Berkshire Hathaway, he has bought, sold, or invested in hundreds of companies over the years, and their industries are all over the map. These investments include consumer goods companies like Coca-Cola, daily national newspapers like The Washington Post, and insurance companies like GEICO.

Buffett currently owns 36.8% of Berkshire – and at the time of publishing, Berkshire Hathaway is worth an impressive $480 billion, employing 377,000 people across many different industries.

Origin Story

Although Berkshire Hathaway is today associated with Buffett and his long-time partner Charlie Munger, the origins of the company actually stem from 1839.

The original company was a textile mill in Rhode Island, and by 1948 Berkshire employed 11,000 people and brought in $29.5 million in revenue (about $300 million in today’s dollars).

After Berkshire’s stock began to decline in the late 1950s, Buffett saw value in the company and started accumulating shares. By 1964, Buffett wanted out, and the company’s CEO Seabury Stanton tendered an offer to buy Buffett’s shares for $11.37, which was $0.13 less than he had promised.

This made Buffett mad, and instead of taking the offer, he opted to buy more shares. Eventually he took control of the company and fired Stanton.

The company was his, and the rest is history.

The Scoreboard

In the long-running contest of Warren Buffett vs. the market, the scoreboard isn’t even close:

Berkshire HathawayS&P 500
Total gain (1964-2017)2,404,748%15,508%
Compound annualized gain20.9%9.9%

Source: BH Annual Report. BH’s market value is after-tax, and S&P 500 is pre-tax, including dividends.

If you’re wondering how Warren Buffett developed such an impressive investing record, it’s worth seeing Part 2 of this series: Inside Buffett’s Brain.

Revenue by Business Segments

The Warren Buffett Empire is diverse, and made up of hundreds of companies in different industries.

However, segmenting by revenue does give an idea of how Berkshire makes its money:

Revenue (Billions, 2017)% of Total
Insurance$65.527%
BNSF$21.49%
Berkshire Hathaway Energy$18.98%
Manufacturing$50.421%
McLane Company$49.821%
Service and Retailing$26.311%
Finance$8.43%
Total$240.7100%

The Berkshire Portfolio

Berkshire Hathaway’s portfolio can be broken down into two categories: the companies it owns outright (or majority stakes in), and the companies it owns significant investments in.

Companies Owned by Berkshire
Berkshire Hathaway owns well-known brands ranging from Dairy Queen to Duracell. Here are all those companies listed by number of employees:

IndustryCompanyEmployees
FinanceClayton Homes16,362
InsuranceGEICO38,690
ManufacturingPrecision Castparts31,984
ManufacturingFruit of the Loom26,219
ManufacturingShaw Industries21,867
ManufacturingThe Marmon Group12,763
ManufacturingForest River12,185
ManufacturingDuracell2,875
ManufacturingBenjamin Moore1,772
ManufacturingRussell Athletic1,020
ManufacturingBrooks Sports638
Railroad and UtilitiesBNSF Railways41,000
Railroad and UtilitiesBerkshire Hathaway Energy22,773
Service and RetailingMcLane Company23,859
Service and RetailingNetJets6,314
Service and RetailingBH Media Group3,719
Service and RetailingSee’s Candies2,439
Service and RetailingHelzberg Diamonds2,252
Service and RetailingThe Buffalo News618
Service and RetailingBusiness Wire486
Service and RetailingDairy Queen464
n/aBerkshire Hathaway Corporate Office26
n/aOther106,966
Total377,291

Importantly, you’ll notice that there are only 26 employees in Berkshire Hathaway’s corporate office – that’s because Buffett is adamant that portfolio companies need to be well-managed in their own right, and he thinks this decentralization is a key to his success.

Investments
Here are the companies Berkshire Hathaway has significant investments in – the whole portfolio is worth nearly $200 billion:

CompanyValue (Billions)% of Portfolio
Apple28.014.6%
Wells Fargo27.814.5%
Kraft Heinz25.313.2%
Bank of America20.010.5%
Coca Cola18.49.6%
American Express15.17.9%
Phillips 668.24.3%
U.S. Bancorp4.72.5%
Moody's3.61.9%
Bank of NY Mellon3.31.7%
Southwest Airlines3.11.6%
Delta Airlines3.01.6%
Charter Communications2.91.5%
Goldman Sachs2.81.5%
American Airlines2.41.3%
GM2.01.0%
Monsanto1.40.7%
Visa1.20.6%
Other18.09.4%
Total191.2100.0%

The portfolio is pretty much a microcosm of the American economy: it features banks, airlines, consumer goods companies, and even tech behemoths like Apple.

Other Brands
Lastly, it’s worth noting that Buffett doesn’t stop there – his company also owns 80 auto dealerships, the second-largest real estate broker in the country (HomeServices of America), and even 32 daily newspapers.

Deals that Made the Empire

The Warren Buffett Empire wouldn’t exist without Buffett being involved in some of most famous deals in business history. Below are some of the big names Buffett has been involved with.

ABC
Buffett helped finance the Capital Cities takeover of ABC – at the time, the largest non-oil merger in history. Eventually, CapCities/ABC was sold to Disney.

ESPN
Before ESPN was the household name it is today, Buffett owned a big chunk of it as an upstart sports brand in 1985, as a part of the CapCities/ABC deal.

Heinz
Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital led a takeover of Heinz in 2013. This gave Buffett control of trusted brands like HP Sauce, Lea & Perrins, as well as the namesake brand.

Washington Post
Buffett delivered the newspaper as a kid, but later in his life would be the largest outside shareholder of the famous paper.

Salomon Brothers
Buffett helped lead a desperate shakeup at one of Wall Street’s most famous investment banks.

USAir
After almost losing all the $358 million he had invested, Buffett called buying preferred shares in the airline one of his biggest mistakes.

Gillette
Buffett started buying shares in the last 1980s, and became Gillette’s biggest shareholder. Buffett made $4.4 billion in paper profit when it sold the company to Proctor & Gamble.

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Investor Education

Ranked: The Best Stock Brokers for Investors and Traders

Whether you’re searching for low fees or an easy-to-use trading platform, this clear breakdown can help you find the best stock brokers.

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A heat map scoring the best stock brokers on a variety of categories like research and education; most of the category names and broker names are obscured from view in this preview image.

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The following content is sponsored by StockBrokers.com

Ranked: The Best Stock Brokers for Investors and Traders

Choosing the right online trading platform might seem tricky. There are lots of options, and finding the best stock brokers could require a lot of time and research. Luckily, a team of experts has already done the work for you!

In this graphic from StockBrokers.com, we show how stock brokers performed in a variety of categories so you can make an informed decision.

Breaking Down the Best Stock Brokers

StockBrokers.com analyzed 17 select brokers using actual trading accounts or demo accounts. 

The below table shows the overall scores, with 100% being the highest possible score. It also breaks down ratings in the ease of use, mobile trading, and commissions and fees categories, which have the heaviest weightings in the overall score. 

Stock BrokerOverall Ease
of Use
Mobile
Trading
Commissions
& Fees
Fidelity9910099100
E*TRADE971009990
Charles Schwab971009790
Merrill Edge941009690
Interactive Brokers93809990
Firstrade88809490
tastytrade85908990
Ally Invest85907990
Webull85909190
Robinhood841009090
TradeStation82709090
J.P. Morgan
Self-Directed
Investing
82857990
Vanguard78955690
Tradier77907590
eToro77858790
SoFi Invest74906490
Public.com70856890

Source: StockBrokers.com as of January 23, 2024. The overall score is based on the following category weightings: 25% ease of use, 25% mobile trading apps, 20% Commissions and fees, 10% investment options, 10% research, 5% platforms and tools, 5% education.

Fidelity has the top overall score in 2024, with an excellent app, clear navigation, and low fees. When it comes to fees, Fidelity skips many charges that are common among other brokers. It also doesn’t accept payment for order flow, which is when brokers direct your orders to market centers that pay them a referral fee. 

E*TRADE and Charles Schwab are tied for second place when it comes to the best stock brokers. According to StockBrokers.com, E*TRADE has the best platform for mobile trading. The company offers one app focused on casual investors, and another for beginner to intermediate investors that has a useful—but not overwhelming—number of tools. 

Charles Schwab, on the other hand, boasts the best desktop trading platform where investors can keep track of huge watch lists and follow streaming market news.

How Brokers Bring Additional Value

Apart from giving you the ability to trade stocks online, brokers also offer other perks like trading tools and education. Here’s how the same 17 brokers scored on these types of features.

Stock BrokerInvestment
Options
Research Platform
& Tools
Education
Fidelity969694100
E*TRADE95999396
Charles Schwab971009595
Merrill Edge89989399
Interactive Brokers999910093
Firstrade90877569
tastytrade80559284
Ally Invest89777382
Webull76638858
Robinhood74496273
TradeStation94659170
J.P. Morgan
Self-Directed
Investing
78755791
Vanguard88674868
Tradier76467335
eToro54566653
SoFi Invest60415486
Public.com53444653

Source: StockBrokers.com as of January 23, 2024. The overall score is based on the following category weightings: 25% ease of use, 25% mobile trading apps, 20% Commissions and fees, 10% investment options, 10% research, 5% platforms and tools, 5% education.

Interactive Brokers holds the title of “best for professional traders” thanks to its wide range of highly customizable tools, investment options, and research. Investors can also trade in foreign markets and hold multiple currencies, for those interested in forex trading.

While not included in overall scores, StockBrokers.com also rated brokers on their customer service through nationwide phone testing. Fidelity and Merrill Edge are the best stock brokers when it comes to customer service. Both companies answered calls in less than a minute on average, and their representatives had high professionalism. 

Picking the Best Brokerage Account

When you’re choosing from a list of the best stock brokers, you’ll want to consider which features are most important to you.

StockBrokers.com offers clear, in-depth reviews and compares brokers on more than 150 different account features and fees. You can also see screenshots of what various pages look like within the trading platforms. 

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See StockBrokers.com’s guide to the best online trading platforms of 2024.

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