“Iscar, our 80 percent-owned cutting-tools operation, continues to amaze us,” he wrote in the company’s financial report for 2011.
“Its sales growth and overall performance are unique in its industry. 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,” Buffett said.
Berkshire Hathaway paid $4 billion for 80 percent of Iscar in 2006. Today it is considered one of Berkshire’s five largest non-insurance companies, alongside railroad Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation, Lubrizol Corporation, Marmon Group, and MidAmerican Energy Holdings.
“Unless the economy weakens in 2012, each of our fabulous five should again set a record, with aggregate earnings comfortably topping $10 billion,” said Buffett.