Berkshire profit rises 51 percent, shares at record high

Fri May 3, 2013 7:17pm EDT
 
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By Jonathan Stempel and Jennifer Ablan

OMAHA, Nebraska (Reuters) - Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc on Friday said quarterly profit rose nearly 51 percent on a solid performance in insurance and by many of its other businesses, as well as gains from investments and derivatives.

The results topped expectations and were released after Berkshire shares closed at a record high.

Berkshire's more than 80 businesses are benefiting from a strengthening economy, as illustrated by increased traffic on its Burlington Northern railroad unit, new customers for its McLane food distribution business, and stepped-up demand for its Forest River recreational vehicles, to name just a few.

Profit from insurance operations, including the Geico car insurance unit and a business that provides protection against major catastrophes, roughly doubled.

"The happy fact right now is that the growth areas in the economy are right in Berkshire's wheelhouse," said Jeff Matthews, founder of the RAM Partners LP hedge fund and author of "Pilgrimage to Warren Buffett's Omaha."

Berkshire released its results a day before Buffett and Berkshire Vice Chairman Charlie Munger will field five hours of shareholder questions at the company's annual meeting in its hometown of Omaha, Nebraska.

PROFIT TOPS FORECASTS

Net income increased to $4.89 billion, or $2,977 per Class A share, from $3.25 billion, or $1,966 per share, a year earlier.   Continued...

 
Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett attends the Allen & Co Media Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho July 12, 2012. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart