Buffett's firm says 4Q profit up 15 percent on investments

Elbert EdwardsFeb 26, 2017

Warren Buffett made it clear Saturday that while he prefers investments that last forever, any of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.'s $122 billion worth of stock in publicly traded companies can go up for sale at any time.

Berkshire itself has done far better, with its stock price gaining 20.8 percent per year since Buffett took over in 1965, dwarfing the Standard & Poor's 500's 9.7 percent gain, including dividends. The letter is always one of the best-read business documents every year because of Buffett's knack for explaining complex issues in simple terms and because of his remarkably successful investing record.

"Our expectation is that investment gains will continue to be substantial - though totally random as to timing - and that these will supply significant funds for business purchases", Buffett wrote in the letter.

On Saturday, Buffett said he has "no doubt" he will win the bet.

The stake of 61.2 million shares was acquired a year ago for $6.75 billion, an average of about $110.17 apiece, according to the annual report Saturday from Berkshire, which is led by billionaire chairman Warren Buffett.

But Buffett lavishly praised Berkshire executive Ajit Jain, widely considered a leading CEO candidate, for smoothly running much of the conglomerate's insurance businesses.

Berkshire's net profit was virtually unchanged at $US24.07 billion, a tad lower than the $24.08 billion in 2015.

"If there were ever to be another Ajit and you could swap me for him, don't hesitate", Buffett wrote.

Though he did not mention Donald Trump, Mr Buffett expressed optimism about the future prosperity of the United States and championed the economic benefits of immigration and the rule of law - just as the new President is trying to block immigrants and has attacked the courts. Berkshire said those operating earnings totaled $1.78 per Class B share.

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