Two Israeli executives at Iscar Ltd. have been named as candidates to succeed Berkshire Hathaway Inc. chairman and CEO Warren Buffett, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Buffett, who has run Berkshire Hathaway since 1965, recently announced that he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. According to the report, the disease was detected early, and "his prognosis is good."
Iscar is Berkshire's Israeli-based cutting-tool division.
According to the WSJ, Buffett has said that members of Berkshire's board have selected a successor whom they "know and admire," as well as two backups.
However, the report said, he hasn't disclosed the successor's identity—even to the chosen person.
WSJ asked two independent teams of financial researchers—Paul Tetlock and Tim Scully at Columbia Business School and Richard Peterson at Los Angeles-based investment firm MarketPsych—to analyze what Buffett has written about Berkshire's divisional executives in his annual letters.
According to the report, both groups of researchers specialize in "textual analysis," or the use of mathematical formulas to measure the frequency and positive or negative tone of language.
The researchers said Iscar CFO Danny Goldman scored the highest among current executives to whom Buffett has referred in emotional terms at least eight times. In 2009 Buffett referred to Goldman in a letter as "incredible."
The researchers mentioned Jacob Harpaz, Iscar's CEO, as one of the divisional CEOs to whom Buffett has referred at least four times in emotional terms.
The analysts found that Buffett has mentioned Ajit Jain, head of Berkshire's reinsurance group, far more often than any other current division boss—102 times, versus 60 for the next most-cited, Tony Nicely of Geico.
This article was originally published in Hebrew