On Saturday, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc reported a $35.5 billion first-quarter profit, including gains from stocks such as Apple Inc, as well as greater investment income and a resurgence at car insurer Geico.
Berkshire also increased its stock repurchases by $4.4 billion, while reducing its holdings in other equities such as Chevron Corp, which remains a substantial position.
The results were announced ahead of Berkshire’s annual shareholder meeting in Omaha, which is part of a weekend that attracts tens of thousands of visitors.
The 92-year old has led Berkshire since 1965, converting it from a struggling textile company into a conglomerate that includes Geico, the BNSF railroad, Berkshire Hathaway Energy, and manufacturing and retail operations such as See’s Candies and Dairy Queen ice cream.
Because of the diversity, many investors, not just Buffett enthusiasts, see Berkshire as a stable long-term investment, especially in the face of recession fears and banking industry problems.
Net income per Class A share was $24,377, up from $5.58 billion, or $3,784 per share, the previous year. This was due in part to a 27% increase in Apple’s stock price, which left Berkshire with a $151 billion investment in the iPhone maker.
Berkshire must publish unrealized profits and losses with net results due to an accounting restriction, and Buffett advises investors to overlook the associated volatility. Operating profit grew 13% to $8.07 billion, or nearly $5,561 per Class A share, from $7.16 billion in the previous quarter.
These profits benefited from Geico breaking a six-quarter streak of underwriting losses, as well as a 68% rise in the amount of revenue generated by Berkshire’s insurance companies through investments. Geico’s pretax underwriting profit was $703 million, thanks to higher premiums, fewer crashes, and a large decrease in ad spending, which may have resulted in fewer high-risk drivers seeking coverage.
Berkshire Hathaway’s cash hoard increased by $2 billion in the quarter to $130.6 billion, as the corporation sold $13.3 billion in stocks while buying only $2.9 billion.
Chevron looks to have been sold, with Berkshire’s investment dropping 28% to $21.6 billion, despite the oil company’s stock price dropping only 9%. Berkshire Hathaway also has a 23.6% position in Occidental Petroleum Corp.
Berkshire spent $8.2 billion to increase its interest in truck stop operator Pilot Travel Centres to 80% from 38.6%, leaving the founding Haslam family with 20%. The increase was anticipated.
The BNSF railroad’s profit plummeted 9% to $1.25 billion, dragged down by rising fuel expenses and reduced cargo volumes.
Berkshire Hathaway Energy’s profit fell 46% as it set aside $359 million for legal and other costs related to wildfires in Oregon and northern California, where it has various operations, in 2020.
The purchase of insurance holding company Alleghany Corp in October was also reflected in operating earnings, while net results included a gain relating to Pilot. Berkshire’s Class A shares have gained 4.9% this year, lagging the S&P 500.The S&P 500 is up 7.7%. In 2022, excluding dividends, the index trailed Berkshire by 23.4 percentage points.
(Adapted from BusinessToday.in)