Berkshire stung by losses in its stock holdings

Berkshire stung by losses in its stock holdings

Berkshire Hathaway, the conglomerate led by Warren Buffett, posted its first overall quarterly loss in a year on Saturday due to falling prices of Apple and other stocks it holds, while saying its improving insurance operations brought its operating profit to a record level.

Its broad portfolio of businesses, ranging from insurance to energy to consumer goods like See’s candy, generally performed better in the third quarter than in the same quarter a year earlier. And Berkshire’s cash stake hit a record $157.2 billion in the third quarter, when it sold $5.3 billion more shares than it bought.

Berkshire also slowed repurchases of its own shares, buying back $1.1 billion in the third quarter.

Investors watch Berkshire closely because its results often reflect broader economic trends and because Mr. Buffett has a reputation as a savvy investor.

The third-quarter net loss more than quadrupled, from about $2.8 billion a year earlier, to $12.77 billion.

The results include $23.5 billion in investment losses, mainly reflecting a 12% drop in Apple’s stock price, in which Berkshire had a $157 billion stake, as of September 30.

Berkshire’s bottom line varies widely from quarter to quarter because accounting rules require the company to report gains and losses on its investments, even if it doesn’t buy or sell anything. Mr. Buffett says the resulting volatility is generally meaningless.

Operating profit rose 41 percent to $10.76 billion from $7.65 billion a year earlier.

Insurance operations generated $4.89 billion in profit as Geico’s auto insurer and reinsurance business gained money after posting losses in 2022, while rising interest rates boosted revenues generated by U.S. Treasuries.

Berkshire also benefited from a relatively quiet Atlantic hurricane season, which reduced catastrophe losses, unlike in 2022, when it lost $2.7 billion from Hurricane Ian.

But revenue at its freight railroad BNSF fell 15.3 percent in the quarter due to lower volumes and higher nonfuel expenses. Its real estate business also saw declines due to rising mortgage interest rates and fewer existing homes for sale, as well as a decline in demand for mortgage refinancing. Revenue from its real estate brokerage business fell 13.8 percent in the third quarter.

Berkshire also reported that revenue from its apparel and footwear businesses fell 11.2 percent due to a drop in customer demand.

Mr. Buffett, 93, has led Berkshire since 1965. His net worth of $117.5 billion ranks fifth in the world according to Forbes magazine.

Berkshire shares are up 14% this year, matching the S&P 500’s return.

Avatar photo

David B.Otero

Related Posts

Read also x