Omaha: Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc posted a $35.5 billion first-quarter profit on Saturday, reflecting gains from stocks such as Apple Inc, while higher investment income and a rebound at car insurer Geico bolstered operating results.
Berkshire also sped up repurchases of its own stock, buying back $4.4 billion, while paring its investments in other stocks such as Chevron Corp, which is still a major holding.
Net income equaled $24,377 per Class A share and rose from $5.58 billion, or $3,784 per share, a year earlier. That in part reflected a 27 per cent jump in Apple’s stock price, leaving Berkshire with a $151 billion stake in the iPhone maker.
Berkshire released results ahead of its annual shareholder meeting in Omaha, part of a weekend that draws tens of thousands of people to the city.
An accounting rule requires Berkshire to report unrealized gains and losses with net results, and Buffett urges investors to ignore the resulting volatility.
Quarterly operating profit increased 13 per cent to $8.07 billion, or about $5,561 per Class A share, from $7.16 billion.
Those results benefited from Geico snapping a six-quarter string of underwriting losses, and a 68 per cent increase in the income Berkshire’s insurance units generate from investments.
Berkshire’s cash hoard grew $2 billion in the quarter to $130.6 billion as the company sold a net $10.4 billion of stocks. Its stake in Chevron fell 28 per cent to $21.6 billion, though the oil company’s stock price dropped just 9 per cent.
The stock sales more than offset the $8.2 billion Berkshire spent to boost its stake in truck stop operator Pilot Travel Centers to 80 per cent from 38.6 per cent, leaving the founding Haslam family with 20 per cent.
Buffett, 92, has run Berkshire since 1965, transforming it from a struggling textile company into a conglomerate with dozens of businesses including the BNSF railroad, Berkshire Hathaway Energy, and manufacturing and retail units including See’s Candies and Dairy Queen ice cream.
Berkshire’s Class A shares have risen 4.9 per cent this year, trailing the Standard & Poor’s 500’s 7.7 per cent gain. The index lagged Berkshire by 23.4 percentage points in 2022, excluding dividends.