Reuters

(Reuters)

Berkshire Profit up 25% as Insurance Helps, BNSF Weighs

Earnings Reuters

Berkshire Hathaway Inc on Friday said second-quarter profit rose 25%, helped by improvement in insurance underwriting, investment gains and the purchase of Precision Castparts Corp, Warren Buffett's largest-ever acquisition.

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But operating results fell short of analyst forecasts, as depressed oil prices and coal demand weighed on volume at the conglomerate's BNSF railroad unit.

Net income for Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire rose to $5 billion, or $3,042 per Class A share, from $4.01 billion, or $2,442, a year earlier.

Operating profit rose 18 percent to $4.61 billion, or $2,803 per Class A share, from $3.89 billion, or $2,367.

Analysts on average expected operating profit of about $2,911 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue rose 6 percent to $54.46 billion. Book value per share, Buffett's preferred measure of growth, rose 1.7 percent from the end of March to $160,009.

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Insurance underwriting swung to a $337 million profit from a year-earlier loss of $38 million, helping boost overall insurance profit, including investments, 40 percent to $1.32 billion.

The underwriting improvement stemmed mainly from a unit that protects against major catastrophes. It posted a $184 million pretax underwriting gain, versus a $411 million year-earlier loss.

Investments and derivatives overall generated $394 million of profit, compared with $123 million a year earlier.

Precision Castparts helped boost pretax profit in Berkshire's industrial products sector by 34 percent.

The April-to-June period was Precision's first full quarter as a Berkshire unit, after Buffett bought the aircraft parts maker for about $32.1 billion in January.

Berkshire ended the quarter with more cash, $72.68 billion, than it had beforehand. A key reason was that Kraft Heinz Co , in which Berkshire holds a 26.8 percent common stock stake, redeemed $8.32 billion of preferred stock that Berkshire also owned.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Diane Craft and Leslie Adler)

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