Buffett: Israel’s Iscar continues to amaze us

Buffet calls it one of “the fabulous five” in his annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway Inc. shareholders

Warren Buffet 390 (R) (photo credit: Lucas Jackson / Reuters)
Warren Buffet 390 (R)
(photo credit: Lucas Jackson / Reuters)
Warren Buffett heaped praise on Iscar Ltd. (IMC Metalworking Companies), calling it one of “the fabulous five” in his annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway Inc. shareholders, published as part of the company’s financial report for 2011.
“Iscar, our 80%-owned cutting-tools operation, continues to amaze us,” he wrote.
“Its sales growth and overall performance are unique in its industry,” Buffett wrote. “Iscar’s managers – Eitan Wertheimer, Jacob Harpaz and Danny Goldman – are brilliant strategists and operators. When the economic world was cratering in November 2008, they stepped up to buy Tungaloy, a leading Japanese cutting-tool manufacturer.
Tungaloy suffered significant damage when the tsunami hit north of Tokyo last spring.
But you wouldn’t know that now: Tungaloy went on to set a sales record in 2011. I visited the Iwaki plant in November and was inspired by the dedication and enthusiasm of Tungaloy’s management, as well as its staff. They are a wonderful group and deserve your admiration and thanks.”
Iscar is one of Berkshire’s five largest non-insurance companies, alongside railroad Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation, Lubrizol Corporation, Marmon Group, and MidAmerican Energy Holdings Inc., which delivered record operating earnings. Their aggregate revenue was $9 billion pretax revenue in 2011.
“Unless the economy weakens in 2012, each of our fabulous five should again set a record, with aggregate earnings comfortably topping $10 billion,” Buffett wrote.
In the review of Berkshire’s manufacturing operations, of which Iscar is a part, Buffett said Iscar saw strong demand for its products. The company helped drive the 11 percent increase in the manufacturing activities’ $17.7b. revenue in 2010, along with Forest River, CTB and Johns Manville. Iscar had 11,067 employees at the end of 2011.
Berkshire paid $4b. for 80% of Iscar from the Wertheimer family in 2006. It acquired MidAmerican in 2000, Marmon in 2008, Burlington Northern Santa Fe in 2010 and Lubrizol for $98b. in 2011.