Berkshire Hathaway stock hits new milestone at $200,000

Thu Aug 14, 2014 4:29pm EDT
 
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By Luciana Lopez and Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) - Berkshire Hathaway Inc's (BRKa.N: Quote) share price on Thursday surpassed and closed above $200,000 for the first time, the latest milestone for a company that Warren Buffett has built over nearly five decades into what some analysts view as a microcosm of the U.S. economy.

Class A shares of Berkshire, which have never been split, closed up $3,500, or 1.8 percent, at $202,850, giving the Omaha, Nebraska-based company a market value of more than $333 billion. The share price had earlier rose as high as $203,025.

Berkshire's share price has more than doubled since it first crossed the $100,000 barrier on Oct. 5, 2006. The Standard & Poor's 500 .SPX has climbed just 44 percent since that date.

Buffett, who turns 84 on Aug. 30 and is the world's third-richest person, oversees a conglomerate with more than 80 businesses ranging from Geico car insurance to the BNSF railroad to Dairy Queen ice cream, and more than $119 billion of stocks such as Wells Fargo & Co (WFC.N: Quote) and Coca-Cola Co (KO.N: Quote).

In the second quarter, Berkshire Hathaway posted a record $6.4 billion profit, helped by a stock swap and growing earnings in many businesses, on revenue of $49.76 billion.

By some measures, Berkshire remains moderately priced, trading at about 1.4 times its book value, a measure of assets minus liabilities, in the most recent quarter. Buffett has said he will consider buybacks only at or below a 1.2 times multiple.

Berkshire also has lower-cost Class B shares, which Buffett launched in 1996 to thwart unit investment trusts purporting to be "clones" of Berkshire but which carried high costs.

Those shares now trade at about 1/1,500th of a Class A share and carry voting rights equal to 1/10,000th of a Class A share. They closed on Thursday up $2.22, or 1.7 percent. at $135.30.   Continued...

 
Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett listens to a shareholder at the Berkshire-owned Borsheims jewelry store where Buffett was selling jewelry as part of the company annual meeting weekend in Omaha, Nebraska May 4, 2014.  REUTERS/Rick Wilking