Warren Buffett's Annual Letters


The opening of the 2018 letter is a different format than years in the past and Buffett explains to his readers that it was time for a change. In 2018, Berkshire earned $4.0 billion due to a $20.6 billion loss from a reduction in the amount of capital gains in investment holdings. Also, Buffett addresses and praises new management changes within Berkshire.


The overall net worth gain for Berkshire in 2017 was $65.3 billion. Buffett explains that a large portion of the gain did not come from anything he accomplished but instead he said a large amount of the gain came from Congress when the U.S. Tax Code was rewritten, due to President Trump's historic tax reform.


Berkshire's net worth gain was $27.5 billion. Buffett explains Berkshire's transition from "obtaining most of its gains from investment activities to one that grows in value by owning businesses."


Berkshire pulled in $15.4 billion this year as Buffett promises Berkshire's normalized earning power should increase every year. With this in mind, Buffet details, yet again, the importance of the investment within the BNSF railroad, allowing improvement to customers.


Berkshire had a $18.3 billion gain of net worth this year and Buffett explains the widening of the gap between Berkshire's intrinsic value and its book value. Based off of this idea, Buffett added a historical record of Berkshire's stock price to the letter for reference.


Berkshire acquired $34.2 billion in net worth this year and Buffett explains that two large acquisitions; NV Energy and H.J. Heinz get credit. He continues the letter with the discussion of the success of the insurance businesses within the year, including GEICO.


Berkshire achieved a total gain for its shareholders of $24.1 billion. Still, Buffett talked about the inability to make a major acquisition. The letter continues with more positive news, some being a year-end employment record and Berkshire's "Big Four" investments all having excellent years.


The letter begins with his positive thoughts on the company's progress throughout the year. Berkshire acquired new companies, like Lubrizol, as well as making two major investments in marketable securities.


Berkshire's highlight this year was the acquisition of rail giant Burlington Northern Santa Fe.


Berkshire gained $21.8 billion in 2009. Buffett touts a recent acquisition of Burlington Northern Santa Fe. He also addresses and reviews some basic standards of his business for a refresher on the standards.


Berkshire had a decrease in net worth of $11.5 billion in 2008 amid the financial crisis. Buffett discusses the problems within the financial institutions that led to this decline. Buffett admits to the government taking a mass amount of action by going "all in."


Berkshire's net worth gain in 2007 was $12.3 billion. Buffett admits that his 76 operating businesses performed well in 2007. Specifically, he draws on businesses that had the best year yet, including new acquisitions.


Berkshire's $16.9 billion gain was a record for a one-year gain in network by any American business. Buffett also states, "In addition, the great majority of our 73 businesses did outstandingly well in 2006," especially one of the largest operations, GEICO.


Berkshire's gain in net worth during 2005 was $5.6 billion. Overall, Berkshire had a decent year by initiating five acquisitions. Buffett admits his goal of the report - "to give you the information you need to estimate Berkshire’s intrinsic value." He details the advantages of Berkshire's financial characteristics throughout the letter.


Buffett admitted he did not do the job as well last year. He explained, "My hope was to make several multi-billion dollar acquisitions that would add new and significant streams of earnings to the many we already have. But I struck out."


Berkshire's net worth gain was $13.6 billion. Berkshire’s long-term performance versus the S&P remains all-important. Buffett gave his friend Jack Bogle a plug noting that shareholders can buy the S&P through an index fund at very low cost.


Berkshire's net worth gain during 2002 was $6.1 billion, making it a banner year. Berkshire acquired some important new businesses – with economic characteristics ranging from good to great, run by managers ranging from great to great.


Berkshire’s loss in net worth during 2001 was $3.77 billion, Buffett himself took full blame saying, “Though our corporate performance last year was satisfactory, my performance was anything but. I manage most of Berkshires equity portfolio, and my results were poor, just as they have been for several years.” In the letter he details his mistake and plans for a fix.