Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway reported first-quarter earnings on Saturday.
Buffett’s company sold $10.4 billion of stock on a net basis, and spent $4.4 billion on buybacks.
Berkshire’s operating earnings jumped as insurance strength offset railroad and utility weakness.
The famed investor’s conglomerate dumped $13.3 billion of stocks, and only bought $2.9 billion worth, meaning it sold $10.4 billion of equities on a net basis.
On the other hand, Buffett’s company ramped up its stock buybacks. It spent $4.4 billion repurchasing its shares last quarter, marking its biggest outlay since 2021.
Still, Berkshire’s stock sales fueled a $2 billion increase in its cash pile during the first three months of this year, to $130.6 billion — its highest level in more than a year.
Berkshire’s operating earnings jumped 13% year-on-year to $8.1 billion, as larger underwriting profits and investment income from its insurance businesses offset slimmer profits from BNSF Railway and Berkshire Hathaway Energy.
Buffett’s company received a boost from Pilot Flying J. It purchased another 41.4% of the truck-stop chain in January for $8.2 billion, increasing its stake to 80%. Pilot contributed $9.5 billion of revenue and $83 million of net earnings to Berkshire in the two months ending March 31.
Despite its big-ticket acquisition, Berkshire has slowed its overall spending this year. It piled a record $68 billion into stocks last year, or $34 billion on a net basis. It also completed its $12 billion purchase of insurer Alleghany, and repurchased nearly $8 billion of stock in 2022.
Moreover, Buffett and his team sold nearly $15 billion of stock on a net basis in the fourth quarter of last year, meaning they’ve now jettisoned about $25 billion of stock over the past two quarters.
During Berkshire’s annual shareholder meeting on Saturday, Buffett estimated the yield from the company’s Treasuries and other investments will be about $5 billion this year, up from $50 million a couple of years ago.
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