Don't blink, or you just might miss something. That's sort of how it is with Ingersoll-Rand (NYSE: IR), which is buying and selling assets faster than an auctioneer on a deadline. As such, its December quarter results were very much a work in progress, with the disposed-of items already gone and others on order but not yet received.

With that backdrop, let's see if we can make sense of the company's results without painting with too broad a numbers brush. For starters, the company reported earnings of $2.52 billion, or $9.06 a share, up from $222 million, or $0.72 a share, the prior year. That's OK so far, but you'll get a better picture by looking at continuing operations' earnings, which came in at $171 million, $0.61 a share, compared to $210.1, or $0.68 a share, the prior year.

Beyond that, you need to know -- really, I'm not trying to bathe you in metrics -- that the latest quarter included an $0.18 effect from a higher tax rate and another three-penny hit from job cut costs.

The assets that were jettisoned, and therefore don't count in continuing operations, included the company's Bobcat unit, for which it received $4.9 billion in November from Doosan Infracore of South Korea, creating a gain for the quarter.

And under the rubric of "inbound entities" about 60 days ago, Ingersoll-Rand announced that it would buy climate-control equipment manufacturer Trane (NYS: TT) for $10.1 billion. The transaction is expected to close during the first half of this year.

For my money, I'm inclined to watch Ingersoll's changes closely. It's good enough for a spot among Berkshire Hathaway's (NYSE: BRK-A) (NYSE: BRK-B) gems, and with its new structure, it clearly warrants further attention.

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Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned. He does welcome your questions, comments, or golf tips. The Motley Fool is a shareholder of Berkshire Hathaway. The Fool has a disclosure policy.