Major corporations (and even many minor ones) typically have various subsidiaries and lines of business. Some companies are more formally considered "holding companies" if they own the securities of other firms or entire other companies. A classic example of a holding company is Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A, BRK.B), which owns GEICO, See's Candies, and Dairy Queen, among other companies. Another example is Fortune Brands (NYSE:FO), which owns companies making distilled spirits (Jim Beam, DeKuyper, and Ronrico), golf equipment (Titleist, Cobra, FootJoy, and Pinnacle), home products (Moen faucets, Aristokraft and Schrock cabinets, and Master Lock padlocks), and office products (ACCO, Day-Timers, and Swingline).

When a company reports "consolidated" numbers, it has simply combined the results from all its various operations into one report.

To see an example of a consolidated financial statement, click over to this sample earnings report of Berkshire Hathaway, presenting its consolidated financials. First up are the overall consolidated numbers, followed by a breakout of subsidiaries' numbers. For another example, click over to this Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) page (if you can view Acrobat, or PDF, files) from which you can view Pfizer's consolidated statement of income.

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