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Berkshire's working earnings rose 18% in the newest quarter, with Buffett's money hitting a file $ 149 billion

Warren Buffett at the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting in Los Angeles, California. 05/01/2021.

Gerard Miller | CNBC

Berkshire Hathaway saw another double-digit increase in operating profit thanks to a continued recovery of rail, utility and energy companies from the pandemic, while the company's cash stacks hit a record high as Warren Buffett remained on the sidelines.

The group reported third-quarter operating profit of 6.47 billion US dollars, an increase of 18 percent compared to 5.48 billion US dollars in the same quarter last year, according to its earnings report released on Saturday.

Berkshire said its myriad companies benefited from the economic reopening as demand returned to pre-pandemic levels. Rail, utilities, and energy operating income increased 11% year over year to $ 3.03 billion for the third quarter.

"Beginning in the third quarter of 2020, many of our businesses had significantly higher sales and profits compared to the second quarter, driven by higher customer demand," Berkshire said in the report. "The extent of the effects over long periods of time cannot currently be reasonably estimated."

Berkshire's cash balance hit a record $ 149.2 billion in late September, up from $ 144.1 billion in the second quarter. Buffett hasn't made a significant acquisition in recent years as valuations hit record highs and the environment for deals became competitive.

The record amount of cash came despite Berkshire's aggressive share buybacks. The company bought 7.6 billion in the third quarter. Berkshire bought a record $ 24.7 billion of its own shares last year.

Total earnings, reflecting Berkshire's volatile stock investments, fell to $ 10.3 billion in the third quarter, down more than 60% year over year. The return on Berkshire's stock investments was just $ 3.8 billion last quarter, compared to a profit of $ 24.8 billion last year.

Buffett stressed that investors shouldn't attach much importance to the quarterly changes in their investment gains or losses.

"The amount of investment gains / losses in any given quarter is usually meaningless and provides net earnings per share numbers that can be extremely misleading for investors with little or no accounting knowledge," the conglomerate said in the quarterly report.

Berkshire B shares are up more than 24% this year, roughly 2% below their record high from May.

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