May 28, 2023

Berkshire Hathaway Reports Strong 3rd Quarter

Berkshire earned $3.92 billion, or $2,373 per Class A share, in contrast to $2.28 billion, or $1,380 per share, a year earlier. Book value, Mr. Buffett’s preferred measure of the company’s worth, rose to $111,718 per Class A share, up 11.9 percent since year end.

The conglomerate, with holdings that include ice cream and insurance companies, employs more than a quarter-million people worldwide. Berkshire said its cash holdings grew to $47.78 billion, up $10 billion from the start of the year.

Mr. Buffett told CNBC last week that he was “salivating” for a major acquisition after two deals of more than $20 billion each fell through in the last few months. He knocked off a bit of that cash on Friday with a deal to buy the toy and party supply company Oriental Trading, though at $500 million it has little chance of “moving the needle,” as he has said he would like to do.

Berkshire said in a quarterly filing with securities regulators late Friday that it spent $1.8 billion in total on smaller acquisitions in the first nine months of the year. Many of those deals are never announced.

Berkshire said underwriting profits in its insurance unit fell sharply in the third quarter compared with a year ago, when the business had a one-time gain. One bright spot was the auto insurer Geico, whose underwriting gain nearly quadrupled on a higher policy count and better pricing.

The company’s Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad reported a gain in revenue on higher volumes, leading to stronger earnings.

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