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Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) Q1 2024 earnings




Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) Q1 2024 earnings

Warren Buffett speaks before Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholder meeting in Omaha, Nebraska on May 3, 2024.

David A. Grogen | CNBC

Berkshire Hathaway on Saturday reported a huge year-on-year increase in first-quarter corporate profits as cash positions bubbled to record levels.

The Warren Buffett-led conglomerate posted operating profit – which includes revenue from the company’s entire operations – that rose 39% to $11.22 billion from the same period a year earlier.

That gain was driven by a 185% year-over-year increase in insurance revenue from just $911 million to $2.598 billion. Geico’s revenues rose 174% to $1.928 billion, compared to $703 million a year earlier. Income from insurance investments also rose by 32% to more than $2.5 billion.

Berkshire’s rail business posted $1.14 billion in profit, down slightly from the first quarter of 2023. Its energy division saw profits nearly double to $717 million, compared to $416 million a year earlier.

First-quarter net income, including swings from Berkshire’s equity investments, fell 64% to $12.7 billion. Buffett calls these unrealized investment gains (or losses) meaningless and misleading every quarter, but the unique conglomerate is required to report these numbers based on generally accepted accounting principles.

Record cash

The company’s cash inventory reached a record high of $188.99 billion, up from $167.6 billion in the fourth quarter. That huge stake, well above CFRA Research’s estimate of more than $170 billion, highlights Buffett’s inability to find a suitable target for major acquisitions – something he has lamented in recent years.

To be fair, Berkshire has reduced its stake in Apple by 13%. However, the iPhone maker remained Berkshire’s largest stock holding.

Berkshire also repurchased $2.6 billion of stock, up from $2.2 billion in the fourth quarter of 2023.

The report comes ahead of the company’s annual shareholder meeting, known as ‘Woodstock for Capitalists’. Buffett will answer questions from shareholders about everything from the conglomerate’s interests to his thoughts on investing and the economy.

This will also be the first annual meeting since the death of Vice Chairman Charlie Munger in November.

Year to date, Berkshire Class A shares are up more than 11%, hitting an all-time high in late February. Class B shares have risen more than 12% in that time.

Check out CNBC’s full coverage of this year’s annual meeting here.

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