New York: Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway on Saturday posted a third-quarter loss, as falling stock investments and a big loss from Hurricane Ian offset improvement in many of its industrial businesses.
Berkshire also took advantage of declining equity markets to buy more stocks, purchasing a net $3.7 billion in the quarter and building a now 20.9 per cent stake in Occidental Petroleum Corp. It also repurchased $1.05 billion of its own stock.
The Omaha, Nebraska-based conglomerate nonetheless said it still sees "significant disruptions" in supply chains, while rising inflation hurt results at two of its best-known businesses, the BNSF railroad and Geico auto insurer.
Berkshire posted a quarterly net loss of $2.69 billion, or $1,832 per Class A share, compared with a profit of $10.34 billion, or $6,882 per share, a year earlier.
Operating profit rose 20 per cent to $7.76 billion, or about $5,294 per Class A share, from $6.47 billion, or about $4,331 per share, a year earlier.
Results were bolstered by the strengthening US dollar, which added $858 million to the value of Berkshire's non-dollar-denominated debt, and higher revenue from energy, manufacturing and building products businesses. That helped offset a $2.7 billion after-tax loss from Ian, a strong Category 4 hurricane that slammed into Florida on September 28, causing damages estimated by insurance modelers and executives that could far exceed $50 billion.
Profit at BNSF fell 6 per cent as expenses jumped by one-third, including an 80 per cent surge in fuel costs.
Geico, meanwhile, suffered its fifth straight quarterly underwriting loss, reflecting "significant cost inflation" from damages claims, used car prices and shortages of car parts.
Net results included $10.45 billion of losses from investments and derivatives, as the stock prices of many large Berkshire investments fell.
Accounting rules require Berkshire to report the changes even if it buys and sells nothing. This causes large quarterly swings in results that Buffett says are usually meaningless.
Buffett, 92, has run Berkshire since 1965.
Investors closely watch Berkshire because of his reputation, and because results from the company's dozens of operating units often mirror broader economic trends. Those units also include, Berkshire Hathaway Energy, a large real estate brokerage, and consumer brands such as Dairy Queen, Duracell, Fruit of the Loom and See's Candies.
Berkshire ended September with $109 billion of cash and equivalents. The company spent $11.6 billion of that sum to buy an insurance business, Alleghany Corp, in October. In 2022, Berkshire's stock has outperformed the Standard & Poor's 500, falling just 4 per cent compared with the index's 21 per cent decline.