Warren Buffett’s company reported a $43.76 billion loss in the second quarter as the paper value of its investments plummeted and he bought significantly fewer stocks, but Berkshire Hathaway’s many operating companies generally performed well. Berkshire said Saturday that a largely unrealized $53 billion decline in the value of its investments forced it to report a loss of nearly $44 billion, or $29,754 per Class A share. That is down from $28.1 billion, or $18,488 per Class A share, a year ago.
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Buffett has long said he believes Berkshire’s operating earnings are a better measure of the company’s performance because they exclude investment gains and losses, which can vary widely quarter to quarter. By that measure, Berkshire’s earnings were up significantly to $9.28 billion, or $6,312.49 per Class A share from last year’s $6.69 billion, or $4,399.92 per Class A share. The four analysts surveyed by FactSet expected Berkshire to report operating earnings per Class A share of $4,741.64. Besides investments, Berkshire owns more than 90 companies outright. Berkshire said operating profits were up at all of its major units including its insurance companies, major utilities and BNSF railroad.
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Berkshire said it was sitting on $105.4 billion cash at the end of the quarter, which was little changed from the $106 billion it reported at the end of the first quarter. That signaled that Buffett wasn’t buying nearly as many stocks during the second quarter although it has reported investing several billion in Occidental Petroleum stock. In the first three months of the year Berkshire spent more than $51 billion on stocks.