Gerald Miller | CNBC
Berkshire Hathaway’s operating results rebounded as the conglomerate’s businesses recovered from the pandemic. Chairman Warren Buffett continued to aggressively buy back Berkshire stocks in the first quarter, albeit at a slightly slower pace.
Berkshire posted $ 7.018 billion in operating income for the first quarter, up 20% from $ 5.871 billion for the same period last year. The turmoil in the conglomerate’s businesses, including insurance, transportation, utilities, retail and manufacturing, showed signs of recovery amid the reopening of the economy.
During the first quarter, the company repurchased $ 6.6 billion worth of Berkshire stock after posting a $ 24.7 billion repurchase in lieu of deals last year. The conglomerate recorded $ 9 billion in share buybacks in the fourth quarter.
Berkshire Hathaway’s cash stacks rose about 5% in the quarter to over $ 145.4 billion. Only slightly below the record level at the end of the third quarter of last year.
Buffett has sat on the sidelines as the business environment got more competitive and market valuations got high. The legendary investor said at the annual meeting last year that he had seen nothing attractive to pull the trigger for a sizeable acquisition as in the past.
Berkshire’s holdings also posted solid gains, rising roughly $ 4.69 billion in the most recent quarter. However, Buffett has advised shareholders not to focus on quarterly fluctuations in investment gains and losses.
“The amount of investment gains (losses) in any given quarter is usually meaningless and provides net earnings per share figures that can be extremely misleading to investors with little or no accounting knowledge,” said a statement from Berkshire.
Thanks to the buyback program and a rebound in operations, Berkshire’s “B” shares rose more than 18% to a record high in 2021.
Overall, Berkshire posted net income of $ 11.71 billion, or $ 7,638 per Class A share, for the first quarter. The conglomerate suffered a net loss of $ 49.75 billion, or $ 30,653 per Class A share, a year ago as the pandemic slump in the stock markets dramatically lowered the value of the company’s numerous stock investments.
Total revenue for the conglomerate last quarter was $ 64.6 billion, above the Street’s estimate of $ 63.66 billion, according to Refinitiv.
Berkshire’s annual general meeting begins on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. ET in Los Angeles. Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger are in attendance. The event takes place for the second time with practically no participants.
Correction: Berkshire’s investment income rose $ 4.69 billion in the first quarter. In an earlier version of this story, winnings were incorrectly stated.
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