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Warren Buffett shares an unfortunate story that reflects Berkshire Hathaway's incredible scope

Sam Ro
Managing Editor

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A, BRK-B) is massive in both scope and scale. The holding company, worth $559 billion, owns businesses ranging from insurance to furniture to energy utilities to chocolate.

In his annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, Buffett shared an unfortunate story that “underscores the wide scope of Berkshire’s operations.“

“Since 2011, we have owned Lubrizol, an Ohio-based company that produces and markets oil additives throughout the world. On September 26, 2019, a fire originating at a small next-door operation spread to a large French plant owned by Lubrizol,” he said.

“The result was significant property damage and a major disruption in Lubrizol’s business,” he continued. “Even so, both the company’s property loss and business-interruption loss will be mitigated by substantial insurance recoveries that Lubrizol will receive.”

Thank goodness for insurance. Otherwise, Lubrizol would’ve been in much worse shape.

Unfortunately, what’s good for Lubrizol is coming at the cost of another one of Berkshire’s businesses.

Dark smoke from a large fire that broke out at the factory of Lubrizol spreads over the town, in Rouen, France, September 26, 2019. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

“But, as the late Paul Harvey was given to saying in his famed radio broadcasts, ‘Here’s the rest of the story.’ One of the largest insurers of Lubrizol was a company owned by ... uh, Berkshire.”

Berkshire’s businesses appear to be tripping over each other.

“In Matthew 6:3, the Bible instructs us to ‘Let not the left hand know what the right hand doeth.’ Your chairman has clearly behaved as ordered,” Buffett said.

Below is a list of Berkshire’s many portfolio companies (via Berkshire Hathaway's annual letter)

Berkshire Hathaway companies.

Mark your calendars!

Sam Ro is managing editor at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter: @SamRo

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