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Buffett Sells Apple As Berkshire’s Profit Plunges 64%

So, here’s the scoop: Berkshire Hathaway kicked off Saturday with some rough news.

They announced a huge drop in earnings because the value of their investments took a nosedive.

This looks to have been linked to them scaling back their Apple holdings.

The profit for the first quarter?

Down a whopping 64% from last year.

But don’t count them out just yet.

Berkshire Hathaway made it clear that most of the businesses they own actually did well despite their financial troubles.

ABC News reports:

The day started early Saturday with Berkshire Hathaway announcing a steep drop in earnings as the paper value of its investments plummeted and it pared its Apple holdings. The company reported a $12.7 billion profit, or $8.825 per Class A share, in first the quarter, down 64% from $35.5 billion, or $24,377 per A share a year ago.

Associated Press adds:

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Berkshire Hathaway’s first quarter profits plummeted along with the paper value of its investments, but the company said Saturday that most of the businesses it owns outright performed well.

The company reported reported a $12.7 billion profit, or $8.825 per Class A share, in the quarter. That’s roughly one-third of last year’s $35.5 billion, or $24,377 per A share.

The figures were heavily influenced by a large drop in the paper value of Berkshire’s investments. Buffett encourages investors to pay more attention to the conglomerate’s operating earnings that exclude the investment figures. Operating earnings jumped 39% to $11.222 billion from last year’s $8.065 billion as its insurance companies showed strong results.

On a per share basis, this year’s first quarter operating figure amounts to $7,796.47 per Class A share, beating three analysts’ estimates by FactSet Research, who predicted $6,701.87 per Class A share.

Buffett was a net seller of $17 billion in stocks during the quarter, including trimming about 13% of Berkshire’s massive Apple stake. At $135.4 billion, the iPhone maker still accounts for the biggest share of Berkshire’s $364 billion portfolio. Buffett said he expects it to remain so even up to when his successor Greg Abel takes over.

The estimated value of Berkshire’s Apple stake suggests Buffett sold off more than 100 million shares. In the past, Buffett has said he invested in Apple’s stock because of how devoted consumers are to the company’s products, similar to consumer brands he loves like Berkshire’s own See’s Candy.

Apple CEO Tim Cook, who is at the Berkshire meeting, told CNBC that he still considers it a privilege to have Berkshire as a major shareholder, and he knew about the sales before Berkshire disclosed them Saturday.

Berkshire reported a $2.6 billion underwriting profit at its insurers, up from $911 million a year ago, as Geico in particular continued to improve its results. However, BNSF railroad’s profits dropped 8% to $1.143 billion.


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