Case Study Abstract

This leadership case study on Warren Buffett, Chairman of the Berkshire Hathaway, outlines the leadership (entrepreneurial) skills of the world’s most successful investor. The case covers Buffett’s childhood years, the initial years of his career and how he went on to become one of the richest men in the world with his investing skills. His role in building Berkshire Hathaway and his investing style (understand the investment tenets followed by Buffett) is also briefly covered.

Case Study Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Warren Buffett – Early Days
  3. Buffett’s tenets of buying a business or stock
  4. Buffett’s Investing Strategies
  5. Buffett’s Management Style and Criticism
  6. Questions for Discussion
  7. Exhibit 1: Berkshire Hathaway – Operating companies – Insurance and non-insurance businesses
  8. Exhibit 2: Selected Financial Data for the Past Five Years
  9. Exhibit 3: Subsidiaries of Berkshire Hathaway
  10. Exhibit 4: Common Stock Investments by Berkshire Hathaway (12/31/2007)
  11. Exhibit 5: Berkshire’s Corporate Performance vs. the S&P 500

Introduction

Warren Edward Buffett (Buffett) is the 77-year-old CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and regarded by many as the world’s greatest investor. He is among the richest persons in the world and his estimated net worth is about $62 billion. He is known for his investing style “value investing” and is the most famous disciple of value investing’s inventor Benjamin Graham .

A simple, honest man with grandfatherly looks, Buffett is considered an intellectual genius who makes rapid decisions and decides on a major purchase with just a few days of research. He has figured consistently among the top five in the Forbes magazine’s list of the 400 richest Americans (the elite Forbes 400). In the early 90s he was number one and was the only person in the top five ……

Case Updates/Snippets

  • Buffett’s Biggest Acquisition – In November 2009, Buffett acquired US railroad company Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp (BNSF) in a USD 26 billion takeover. BNSF is one of the biggest US transporter of products such as corn and coal. Buffet’s company Berkshire had already owned 23% of the nation’s second-largest railroad operator. This acquisition was the biggest Buffett had made in his career of 44 years running Berkshire. Buffet believed that the acquisition was a good asset for Berkshire to own over the next century as it was a business that was going to be around for 100 or 200 years.
  • In the 1960s, Warren Buffett bought Berkshire Hathaway, a working textile mill in New England. Later, he shut down production realizing that it could never be a profitable business. However, he retained its name for his holding company. Berkshire has major investments in companies (and household names) such as beverage giant Coca-Cola (1988), US bank Goldman Sachs (2008), the world’s largest retailer Wal-Mart, Nestle and oil giant Exxon Mobil..
Keywords: Warren Buffett, Leadership, Investment leader