Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc on Saturday posted a record net loss of nearly US$50 billion as the coronavirus pandemic pummelled its common stock investments, but operating profit rose even as COVID-19 hurt its businesses.
Berkshire’s first-quarter net loss totalled US$49.75 billion, or US$30,653 per Class A share, reflecting US$54.52 billion of losses from investments, mainly common stocks. A year earlier, net earnings totalled US$21.66 billion, or US$13,209 per share.
Quarterly operating profit, which Buffett considers a better performance measure, rose 6 per cent to US$5.87 billion, or about US$3,624 per Class A share US$5.56 billion, or about US$3,388 per share.
An accounting rule requires Berkshire to report unrealized stock losses and gains with earnings. This causes huge swings in Berkshire’s net results that Buffett considers meaningless.
Nonetheless, Berkshire has loaded up on stocks in part because of Buffett’s inability to find large companies to buy outright, a drought that