Postcards

How the power players do it - by Fortune senior editor at large Patricia Sellers

On Buffett's wish list for 2012: Google and...

January 4, 2012: 10:35 AM ET

What companies did Warren Buffett put on his wish list for Santa Claus?

The secret is out.

The Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA) chief sent a photo of himself, perched on Santa's lap, and named several companies that he apparently believes will be great stocks to own in 2012.

Under the header, "Santa - 2011,"  Buffett listed Exxon Mobil (XOM), Wells Fargo (WF)--both companies in which he already owns shares--and Google (GOOG). No public records indicate that Buffett has ever owned Google stock.

Does this mean that the Oracle of Omaha, who has mostly shunned investments in Silicon Valley, now has his sights set on Google?

Buffett answered in an email: "I just wrote out the list without much thought except to pick companies that we already owned as 'completed' and then just pulled the other names out of a hat--with an eye toward ridiculousness. The implication I hoped was that they were on a list designating those I hoped to own in their entirety, not just shares."

Hmm, owning Exxon Mobil and Google in their entirety does sound a bit ridiculous. But you can't accuse the man who built Berkshire Hathaway into America's seventh-largest company of thinking small.

Those "completed" companies that Buffett says Berkshire already owns in their entirety are GEICO, BNSF Railway, and McLane, a distribution giant that he bought from Wal-Mart (WMT) in 2003.

As for the last item on his Christmas list, "Youth Pills (for Charlie)," here Buffett is referring to Charlie Munger, his longtime business partner who turned 88 on New Years Day. Buffett is a relatively youthful 81.

And who is this Santa, upon whose lap Buffett sits? That is Michael Wilhelm, the brother of a good friend of Susie Buffett, Warren's daughter. Every Christmas, Wilhelm dyes his beard to play Santa and entertain the young 'uns in the Buffett crew--including Warren, we guess.

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About This Author
Pattie Sellers
Pattie Sellers
Senior Editor at Large, Fortune
Executive Director of MPW/Live Content, Time Inc.

Pattie Sellers has written more than 20 Fortune cover stories including "Marissa Mayer: Ready to Rumble at Yahoo," "Muhtar Kent's New Coke," "Oprah's Next Act", "The $100 Billion Woman" (Melinda Gates), and "Gone with the Wind" (Ted Turner). She co-founded Fortune Most Powerful Women and oversees the Fortune MPW Summit, the preeminent gathering of women leaders in business and beyond—and programs such as Fortune MPW Entrepreneurs and the Fortune-U.S. State Department Global Women Leaders Mentoring Partnership. Pattie also develops Live Content across Time Inc. Her blog, Postcards, is about how power players lead and navigate their careers. Pattie won Time Inc.'s prestigious MVP award for her performance in 2012.

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