Gerald Miller | CNBC
Berkshire Hathaway's operating results rebounded as the conglomerate's businesses recovered from the pandemic. Chairman Warren Buffett continued to aggressively buy back Berkshire stocks in the first quarter, albeit at a slightly slower pace.
Berkshire posted $ 7.018 billion in operating income for the first quarter, up 20% from $ 5.871 billion for the same period last year. The multitude of businesses in the conglomerate, including insurance, transportation, utilities, retailers and manufacturers, showed signs of recovery amid the reopening of the economy.
In the first quarter, the company repurchased $ 6.6 billion worth of Berkshire stock after posting a $ 24.7 billion repurchase in lieu of deals last year. The conglomerate recorded $ 9 billion in share buybacks in the fourth quarter.
Berkshire Hathaway's cash stacks rose about 5% in the quarter to over $ 145.4 billion. Only slightly below the record level at the end of the third quarter of last year.
Buffett has sat on the sidelines as the business environment got more competitive and market valuations got high. The legendary investor said at the annual meeting last year that he had seen nothing attractive to trigger an "elephant-sized acquisition".
Berkshire's holdings also posted solid gains, rising roughly $ 2.8 billion in the most recent quarter. However, Buffett urged shareholders not to focus on quarterly fluctuations in investment gains and losses.
"The amount of investment gain (loss) in any given quarter is usually meaningless and provides net earnings per share figures that can be extremely misleading for investors who are ignorant or ignorant of accounting rules," a Berkshire statement said .
At the end of March, Apple remained the largest single stake in Berkshire's portfolio, valued at more than $ 110 billion. The other top positions are American Express, Bank of America, and Coca Cola.
Thanks to the buyback program and a rebound in operations, Berkshire's "B" shares rose more than 18% to a record high in 2021.
Total revenue for the conglomerate last quarter was $ 64.6 billion, above the Street's estimate of $ 63.66 billion, according to Refinitiv.
Berkshire's annual general meeting begins on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. (CET) in Los Angeles. Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger are in attendance. The event takes place for the second time with practically no participants.
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