Berkshire Hathaway’s pandemic recovery continued in the early part of this year, even as major winter storms affected some of its businesses.
Berkshire’s net earnings hit $11.7 billion for the first quarter of 2021, up from a $49.7 billion loss a year earlier, the company announced Saturday. That represented a profit of $7,638 per Class A share and $5.09 per Class B share.
|BRK.A||BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY, INC.||430,640.00||+5,332.00||+1.25%|
|BRK.B||BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY, INC.||286.90||+3.99||+1.41%|
The Omaha, Nebraska-based company reported a little over $7 billion in operating earnings, accounting for the bulk of its profit, plus about $2.8 billion in investment gains. That was a change from last quarter, when stock gains of $24.5 billion bolstered $5 billion in operating earnings.
Berkshire’s manufacturing, service and retail businesses saw declines in the early months of the pandemic, but they have "experienced significant recoveries" since the second half of 2020, company executives wrote.
"Consequently, revenues and earnings in the first quarter of 2021 for these businesses were considerably higher than in the first quarter of 2020, although results for certain businesses were negatively affected by major winter storms in North America during February 2021," the report states. "Certain of our other operating businesses continue to suffer adverse effects from the pandemic.
Those manufacturing, service and retail businesses accounted for the biggest piece of profit in the quarter, netting $2.6 billion. Railroads made $1.3 billion, insurance investment income accounted for $1.2 billion and insurance underwriting netted $764 million.
Berkshire continued repurchasing its own stock, buying back $6.6 billion worth during the quarter. Buffett wrote in his last annual letter that, "The math of repurchases grinds away slowly, but can be powerful over time." On Saturday, company leaders say they expect the repurchasing program "to continue indefinitely."
The conglomerate wholly owns businesses including Geico, BNSF Railroad and Duracell. It also has major stakes in numerous businesses, with some of its largest held in Kraft Heinz, Wells Fargo, Coca-Cola and IBM.