Four years have passed since Berkshire Hathaway announced that it would acquire Burlington Northern Santa Fe in a cash and stock transaction. This article looks back at the transaction and attempts to determine whether it was a good deal for Berkshire.
Warren Buffett is not a proponent of using the concept of “synergies” to justify acquisitions and generally encourages Berkshire Hathaway subsidiaries to operate independently. Business unit managers, or “all stars” as Mr. Buffett referred to them in his biennial letter
As we discussed last week in our coverage of Berkshire Hathaway’s second quarter results, the company’s newly acquired railroad subsidiary posted improved results for the quarter. Burlington Northern Santa Fe posted net earnings of $603 million on revenues of $4,094 million. Since the consolidation of Burlington Northern at the close of the acquisition on February 12, 2010, the company has posted net earnings of $885 million on revenues of $6,167 million. In this article, we will focus on Burlington Northern’s somewhat surprising $250 million dividend payment to Berkshire Hathaway in the second quarter and what meaning this has, if any, on plans for future capital expenditures.