(WALL STREET JOURNAL) Billionaire Warren Buffett tossed lifelines to a handful of blue-chip companies during the financial crisis. Five years later the payoff on those deals is becoming clear: $10 billion and counting.

Mr. Buffett approached that figure after he collected another hefty payment last week, bringing to nearly 40% the pretax income on his crisis-era investments, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis.

The bounty is a vivid illustration of one of Mr. Buffett’s favorite investing maxims: “Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful.”

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