Edward Jones analyst Jim Shanahan said the results look good overall despite the ongoing challenges of the US trade war with China and weakness in manufacturing, but it's disappointing that Berkshire didn't find a way to use more of its cash.
Berkshire is sitting on a pile of more than $128 billion cash because Buffett has struggled to find major acquisitions for the company recently. Buffett said Berkshire repurchased about $700 million of its shares during the quarter.
"Whenever this market pulls back meaningfully, they'll have a lot of capacity to put cash to work," Shanahan said.
Berkshire said its BNSF railroad added $1.466 billion net income during the quarter, up from $1.393 billion a year ago, as it reduced costs as volume slowed. Berkshire's utilities generated $1.18 billion net income, up from $1.09 billion a year ago. The company's insurance units, which include Geico, generated $1.48 billion in investment income, up from $1.24 billion a year ago.
Berkshire Hathaway Inc. owns more than 90 companies, including BNSF railroad and clothing, furniture and jewelry businesses. Its insurance and utility businesses typically account for more than half of the company's operating income. The company also has major investments in such companies as Apple, American Express, Coca-Cola and Wells Fargo & Co.
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