Berkshire Hathaway second-quarter profits surge 41% on stock swap

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 August, 2014, 6:53am
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 August, 2014, 6:53am


Warren Buffett's company reported a 41 per cent jump in its second-quarter profit that was boosted by a paper gain from a stock-swap deal completed earlier this year.

But even without the big investment gains, Berkshire Hathaway reported solid performances at most of its about 80 subsidiaries, which include BNSF railway and Geico insurance.

Berkshire said its overall net income grew to US$6.4 billion, up from US$4.54 billion in the same quarter a year ago. Berkshire's revenue improved 11 per cent to US$49.76 billion from last year's US$44.69 billion.

The company agreed earlier this year to acquire a Miami-based TV station from Graham Holdings in exchange for most of its shares in the company that once owned The Washington Post. As part of that deal, Berkshire and Graham Holdings exchanged assets worth about US$1.1 billion.

Berkshire recorded a US$1.1 billion gain in the second quarter because that's when it took ownership of the WPLG television station and completed the exchange. Berkshire finished the second quarter with more than US$55 billion cash on hand, so Buffett has cash for another big acquisition.

"He is piling up cash, so he must not see any real bargains out there," said Andy Kilpatrick, author of Of Permanent Value: The Story of Warren Buffett.

Analyst Jim Shanahan said the company's solid quarter was a sign that the overall economy continued to grow.

Besides insurance, utility and railway companies, Berkshire owns clothing, furniture, brick, carpet, jewellery and pilot-training firms. It also has big investments in such companies as Coca-Cola. IBM and Wells Fargo.