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Berkshire Sees Profits in Q1, Boosted by Investments

Posted on 03 May 2010

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As rising markets increased the value of investments and a recovering economy boosted results at its industrial operations, Berkshire Hathaway Inc. swung to a profit in the first quarter.

Net earnings were $3.63 billion, compared with a net loss of $1.5 billion in the same period a year earlier. Operating earnings rose 30 percent to $2.2 billion from $1.7 billion.

The economy "picked up steam in March and April," Warren Buffett said at the company's annual meeting of shareholders in Omaha, Nebraska, on Saturday, May 1. That followed "sort of a sputtering recovery a few months ago," he said.

Berkshire had a gain of $1.4 billion on derivatives and investments compared with a loss of $3.2 billion on the holdings in the year-earlier period. Rising corporate profits have helped fuel a 78 percent surge in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index from its recession low in March 2009.

Berkshire’s Class A shares have risen 16 percent this year in New York Stock Exchange trading. They fell $1,476 to $115,325 in yesterday’s trading.

Berkshire bought railroad Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. for about $27 billion in February in Buffett's biggest acquisition, a deal he called an “all-in wager” on the U.S. economy. The purchase will reduce Berkshire's reliance on insurance operations and the housing-related businesses that faltered in the recession.