UPDATE 2-Warren Buffett defends 3G, touts economy in record year for Berkshire

Sat Feb 27, 2016 5:12pm EST
 
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(Recasts, adds details on discussion of economy, Berkshire book value, 3G dealmaking)

By Jonathan Stempel and Jennifer Ablan

Feb 27 (Reuters) - Warren Buffett on Saturday used his annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway Inc shareholders to launch vigorous defenses of an aggressive private equity partner and a maligned mobile home unit, as his conglomerate recorded robust profits.

The world's third-richest person and a revered investor, Buffett also injected himself into the contentious 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, lambasting candidates who talk down the nation's economic future as "dead wrong" - an apparent jab at Republicans and frontrunner Donald Trump.

Buffett, who is backing Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, also raised a political issue dear to Democrats in his widely-read letter by calling climate change a "major problem for the planet," although not one for Berkshire's future.

Buffett, 85, also made no mention of who might succeed him at Berkshire, which he has run for a half-century, and in passing said he expects to be around at age 100.

The Omaha, Nebraska-based company reported a record full-year profit of $24.08 billion, up 21 percent, while operating profit rose 5 percent to a record $17.36 billion.

Fourth quarter profit was up 32 percent, and operating profit rose a larger-than-expected 18 percent.

Berkshire owns roughly 90 businesses in areas as insurance, railroads, energy, food, apparel and real estate. Buffett himself is worth $62.1 billion, Forbes magazine reported.   Continued...