Swallowing companies whole has always been his preference, says Robert Hagstrom, chief strategist for the Legg Mason Investment Council and author of The Warren Buffett Way. "It allows him to do what he thinks is the most important thing, which is to allocate the capital to businesses as he sees fit".
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So the buying spree has taken in large utility companies, manufacturers, insurers and much more. The unifying themes are simply that Mr Buffett thinks them to be good businesses and, until Heinz, that they have good management already in place.
"We don't go into companies with the thought of effecting a lot of change. That doesn't work any better in investments than it does in marriages," said the 1987 letter to investors.
Such criteria suggest family controlled businesses will always be in demand, and two of Mr Buffett's largest acquisitions have been controlling stakes in Marmon Holdings – a conglomerate run by the Pritzker family – and Iscar, an Israeli toolmaker.
The investor, who helped fund the takeover of Wrigley by Mars, is likely to be one of the first calls should patriarch Forrest Mars Jr ever seek a secure home for his family's confectionery empire.
Yet with a $250 billion market capitalization, Mr Buffett's priorities have shifted again in the last decade as Berkshire has grown so large. "What he really looks for is not businesses that throw off cash, its businesses that can absorb cash," says Thomas A Russo of asset managers Gardner Russo & Gardner, a shareholder since 1981.
The $39 billion purchase of railroad company Burlington Northern Santa Fe, Berkshire's largest ever, is a prime example. With his power and utility assets Mr Buffett has invested in durable capital intensive businesses that offer a solid return, and potential for expansion. Indeed, it is adding to Berkshire's many existing businesses that appears to have kept Mr Buffett busy, scooping up more than 130 small companies for undisclosed sums since 1995.
A long-term observer of Heinz speculated that Mr Buffett could see such potential for the food company, once his new partners at 3G Capital have paid down some of the debt and worked to cut costs: swallowing up another food company in the way that Inbev took over Anheuser-Busch, for instance.
Campbell Soup was once considered a possible partner, while Mr Russo points to Reckitt Benckiser, a company increasingly focused on pharmaceuticals which happens to own the French's mustard brand: "It's a huge business, but orphaned there. What could be better than French's mustard teamed with Heinz Ketchup?"
Other shareholders are also excited by the combination of 3G and Mr Buffett, even if they cannot predict what lies ahead. Kase Capital's Whitney Tilson says: "I'm trembling with greed at the deals to come."