Insurance to drag on Berkshire Q1 results

OMAHA, Nebraska (Reuters) - Berkshire Hathaway Inc <BRKa.N> <BRKb.N> will report a significantly lower first-quarter profit, as one of the worst quarters ever for global catastrophes weighed on the company's insurance businesses, Chief Executive Warren Buffett said on Saturday.

Profit is expected to be about $1.5 billion, down from $3.63 billion a year earlier, Buffett said at Berkshire's annual meeting in Omaha, Nebraska. Year-earlier profit totaled $2,272 per Class A share.

Buffett also projected that for the first time in nine years, Berkshire would likely have a full-year loss from insurance underwriting. Insurance comprises close to half of Berkshire's operations.

Buffett said the company lost $821 million from insurance underwriting in the first quarter, and had an estimated $1.67 billion of pretax losses from catastrophes.

He said the quarter was the second worst for the insurance industry in terms of global catastrophes, which included earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand.

(Reporting by Ben Berkowitz; Additional reporting and writing by Jonathan Stempel in New York)