Buffett Bets on Trucking

Last week, Berkshire Hathaway announced an agreement to purchase a 38.6% stake in Pilot Travel Centers LLC for an undisclosed amount, according to a Wall Street Journal article that calls it “Berkshire’s latest wager on traditional forms of transportation and U.S. economic growth.”

According to the article, the Tennessee-based company, better known as Pilot Flying J., is the largest operator of truck stops in the U.S. as well as one of the country’s largest private companies. Through its 750 locations in the U.S. and Canada, the company reports it generates over $20 billion in annual revenue and employs 27,000 people.

The deal is multi-step in nature, the article explains, with Berkshire planning to purchase an additional 41.4% in 2023.

“The deal runs counter to the long-term growth in electric vehicles and self-driving cars and trucks expected by some analysts,” the article says. But Pilot CEO Jimmy Haslam argues, it says, that “some of the larger trends around electric vehicles and automation still have a long way to go before becoming mainstream and disrupting the truck business.”

According to the article, “the acquisition fits into Berkshire’s strategy of buying family-owned businesses and leaving the management teams and headquarters in place.”