Berkshire Hathaway says tax law gives it $29B boost in 4Q

Berkshire Hathaway's fourth-quarter profit more than quadrupled as it received a $29 billion boost from the new tax law that easily offset any weakness in the company's businesses.

Berkshire said Saturday it earned $32.6 billion, or $13.19 per Class B share, in the fourth quarter because of the tax law changes. That compares with $6.3 billion, or $2.55 per B share, a year ago.

Berkshire's CEO Warren Buffett says investors should pay more attention to operating earnings, which exclude the tax changes and investment values, to get a better sense of how Berkshire's 90-odd businesses are performing. By that measure, Berkshire reported $3.3 billion operating income, or $2.23 per B share.

The five analysts surveyed by FactSet expected Berkshire to report operating earnings per Class B share of $1.76.