- The company’s operating profit of $7.04 billion, up slightly from a year ago, was a better measure of performance.
- Berkshire Hathaway’s investments were down $1.58 billion in the first quarter , compared to an increase of $4.7 billion a year ago.
Omaha, Nebraska. – Berkshire Hathaway’s first-quarter profit fell more than 53% due to a big change in the face value of its investments, but Warren Buffett found ways to put some of the company’s massive cash to work, giving shareholders something to talk about at Saturday’s meeting. annual meeting.
berkshire said it earned $5.46 billion, or $3,702 per share class, during the quarter. That’s down from $11.7 billion, or $7,638 per class per share, a year ago.
But the key change during the quarter was that Berkshire’s mountain of cash shrank to $106 billion from $147 billion at the beginning of the year as it invested $51 billion in stocks. Buffett also spent $3.2 billion buying back shares of Berkshire.
Buffett told shareholders on Saturday that just after he wrote them in his annual letter on Feb. 26 Having trouble finding something to buy at attractive prices, Berkshire spent more than $40 billion on stocks over the next three weeks, including one day in early March when it spent $4.6 billion at a peak.
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During the first quarter, buffett agreed to buy insurance conglomerate alleghany for $11.6 billion and made multi-million dollar investments in hp inc. and western oil. Buffett said Berkshire bought 14% of Occidental’s shares in the first half of March as its holding increased, adding to its already massive investment in Apple shares during the quarter. However, it has not yet disclosed all of its share purchases, so it’s not immediately clear what Berkshire invested in this year.
But Berkshire did say in its quarterly report that its stake in oil giant Chevron ballooned to $26 billion by the end of the quarter, up from $4.5 billion at the beginning of the year, to make it one of the company’s four largest investments. Edward Jones analyst Jim Shanahan said that with the Chevron and Occidental investments combined Berkshire now has more than $40 billion invested in the oil sector.
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Buffett said that Berkshire was able to take advantage of the fact that Wall Street functions largely as a “gambling hall” with lots of people wildly speculating on stocks.
“Occasionally, Berkshire gets a chance to do something, and it’s not because we’re smart. it’s because we’re sane. buffett said.
buffet’s investment partner, charlie munger, said there’s been an unbelievable amount of speculation in the stock market over the last two years as the market soared.
“We have people who know nothing about stocks being advised by brokers who know even less,” Munger said.
But Berkshire said the value of its investments fell by $1.58 billion in the first quarter when a year ago the paper estimate of its investments grew by $4.7 billion. that accounted for most of the change in net earnings.
Buffett says Berkshire’s operating profit is a better measure of the company’s performance because it excludes investment gains and losses. By that measure, Berkshire’s earnings were flat at $7.04 billion, or $4,773.84 per class share, compared with $7.018 million, or $4,577.10 per class share, a year ago. /p>
that exceeded wall street expectations. The four analysts surveyed by Factset expected Berkshire to report operating earnings of $4,277.66 per class per share.
berkshire said on Saturday that earnings improved at most of its businesses, including the rail, utility and manufacturing companies it owns, but technical revenue fell at its insurance companies.
In addition to investments, Berkshire Hathaway owns more than 90 companies, including the BNSF Railroad, several major utilities, Geico Insurance, and a variety of manufacturing and retail businesses. Tens of thousands of shareholders packed an Omaha stadium not far from the company’s headquarters on Saturday to hear Vice Presidents from Buffett and Berkshire spend hours answering any and all questions.
Japanese investor Heihachiro “Hutch” Okamoto is attending the meeting for his first time this year partly because he is hearing so much interest in investing in the U.S. stock market at the brokerage company where he works in Japan.
“mr. buffett is a kind of representative of the usa. uu. stock market, so I wanted to see it here,” okamoto said.
janet dalton of overland park, kansas, said she has attended meetings for decades. Her family has an even longer association with the company because her father bought shares in the Berkshire Hathaway textile company even before Buffett took it over in 1965 and began building it into the conglomerate it is today. they never sold the shares, which are now selling for nearly $500,000 each.
Dalton said he misses the more detailed business responses Buffett used to give at previous meetings he attended.
“When I first came to the meetings, it was like receiving a mini-mba. Now it has become more general,” Dalton said. But part of what keeps her coming back year after year is the chance to reconnect with friends and other investors she’s met at previous meetings.
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