Ever since Warren Buffett inked a deal to acquire a 50% stake in Heinz back in February, the world has spent a fair amount of time trying to figure out which company he would gobble up next through Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-B ) (NYSE: BRK-A ) .
If we could be sure of one thing, however, it was that Buffett would acquire more companies. He even went so far as to bluntly joke: "I'm ready for another elephant. Please, if you see any walking by, just call me."
Powering the city that never sleeps
Sure enough, it seems Buffett's elephant gun has found its mark in the form of Nevada-based NV Energy (NYSE: NVE ) , the electric utility company which most notably keeps the lights on in Las Vegas, but has also served Nevada customers for over 100 years in a nearly 46,000-square-mile service territory from Elko to Laughlin.
Long story short, Berkshire's MidAmerican Energy subsidiary has agreed to acquire NV Energy for $23.75 per share, or $5.59 billion in cash. When you include debt, the deal boasts an enterprise value closer to $10 billion.
Of course, the acquisition still needs to be approved by NV Energy shareholders as well as state and federal regulators, but Buffett has already chimed in to say:
"This is a great fit for Berkshire Hathaway, and we are pleased to make a long-term investment in Nevada's economy. Through MidAmerican, we have found in NV Energy a great company with similar values, outstanding assets, and a superb management team."
What's more, it's hard to argue that Buffett is overpaying for his latest prize; while the agreed price does represent a 23% premium to NV Energy's closing price Wednesday of $19.28 per share, the stock still trades for a reasonable 17 times last year's earnings even after the pop.
The "powerhouse five" grows even larger
In March, I noted that MidAmerican stands tall as first of Berkshire's five most profitable non-insurance companies, with the other four businesses including Burlington Northern, Iscar, Lubrizol, and Marmon Holdings.
After the deal is complete, NV Energy will still operate under its current name as a subsidiary of MidAmerican Energy. Meanwhile, MidAmerican will then have assets around $66 billion, and its electric and gas utilities will serve approximately 8.4 million customers. What's more, as I reminded investors earlier this month, MidAmerican also accounts for 6% of the United States' total wind generation capacity and will soon own around 14% of our country's solar-generation capabilities.
In the end, similar to the way Berkshire spent more than $2 billion earlier this month to buy the 20% stake in Iscar it didn't already own, this week's deal should also serve as a great reminder Buffett doesn't need to venture far outside his wheelhouse to create value for Berkshire shareholders. To the contrary, sometimes the best way Buffett can put Berkshire's money to work is by building on what he already has.
Thanks to Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway's book value per share has grown a mind-blowing 586,817% over the past 48 years. But with Buffett aging and Berkshire rapidly evolving, is this insurance conglomerate still a buy today? In The Motley Fool's premium report on the company, Berkshire expert Joe Magyer provides investors with key reasons to buy as well as important risks to watch out for. Click here now for instant access to Joe's take on Berkshire!