"Alleghany's objective is to create stockholder value through the ownership and management of a small group of operating businesses and investments, anchored by a core position in property and casualty insurance. Alleghany is managed by a select company staff which seeks out attractive investment opportunities, delegates responsibilities to competent and motivated managers, defines risk parameters, sets management goals for its operating businesses, ensures that managers are provided with incentives to meet these goals, and monitors their progress.
The operating businesses function in an entrepreneurial climate as quasi-autonomous enterprises.
Conservatism dominates Alleghany's management philosophy. Alleghany's philosophy shuns investment fads and fashions in favor of acquiring relatively few interests in basic financial and industrial enterprises that offer the potential to deliver long-term value to the investor."
An interesting fact is that these guys at Alleghany were in Burlington Northern Santa Fe long before Buffett & Co. They have since divested their shares in Burlington and now hold over $825 million in cash in which they can use for future investments. Also they have NO debt and have managed to weather the last couple years quite well. They like Buffett usebook value as their yard stick and not the actual price of the stock. The stock (NYSE:Y) trades at a discount to its current book value of $306.71.
2009 Results for Alleghany can be found here