Insurance loss from disasters cuts profits at Buffett's firm

FILE—In this Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, file photo, Warren Buffett attends the Forbes 100th Anniversary Gala at Pier Sixty in New York. Berkshire Hathaway Inc. reports earnings Friday, Nov. 3, 2017. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)

Andy Kropa

OMAHA (AP) — Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. said Friday that its third-quarter profit fell 43 percent because of a $1.4 billion insurance underwriting loss from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and earthquakes in Mexico.

The Omaha, Nebraska-based conglomerate owns Geico and several other insurers, including General Reinsurance.

Berkshire said it earned $4.07 billion, or about $1.65 per Class B share. That’s down from $7.2 billion, or $2.92 per Class B share.

Berkshire said that without its investment and derivative gains, which can be volatile, its operating earnings were $3.44 billion, or $1.40 per share.

The analysts surveyed by FactSet expected Berkshire Hathaway to report operating earnings per Class B share of $1.59.

Buffett’s company generated revenue of $60.53 billion in the period.

Berkshire Hathaway executives do not routinely discuss quarterly earnings results.

CFRA Research analyst Cathy Seifert said the underwriting losses in Berkshire’s insurance businesses drove the quarterly result. Outside of insurance, Berkshire’s other businesses reported a modest 2.9 percent increase in operating profits.

Berkshire owns more than 90 subsidiaries, including clothing, furniture and jewelry firms. It also has major investments in such companies as Coca-Cola Co. and Wells Fargo & Co.

Its Class B shares were down $1.12 to $186.15 in after-hours trading Friday following the releases of the earnings report.

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