Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B) profit nearly doubles in 3rd quarter

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway profit nearly doubles in third quarter

That amounts to dipping a toe, since he's still left with a US$103.6 billion pile of cash to put to work.

Cash and cash equivalents as of September 30, 2018 increased to $36.5B from $25.5B a year ago.

Notably, Buffett's company bought back almost $1 billion in stock during the quarter - the first time that's happened in years - a possible sign that the world's most famous investor has been unable to find attractive investments to purchase.

Helping the company's insurance operations were lower estimated liabilities from property and casualty insurance in prior years and lower taxes.

Net income more than quadrupled in the quarter, thanks to a new accounting rule that includes swings in the company's stock portfolio in that figure. Warren Buffett has said the rule could lead to "wild and capricious" results and mislead investors, who should look at operating profit instead.

Buffett's last big acquisition was in January 2016, when Berkshire paid $32.1 billion for aircraft parts maker Precision Castparts.

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Berkshire Hathaway Inc.'s insurers dodged the worst of losses caused by Hurricane Florence as the businesses kept up their rebound from a rough 2017. Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger, 94, handle major capital allocation decisions. Their results painted a picture of a US economy that continues to grow but faces increased pressure from rising costs, in part due to the Trump administration's imposition of tariffs. The business is expected to report its next earnings report on Friday, November 2nd.

Yet at Burlington Northern Santa Fe LLC, Berkshire's rail business, they were able to increase prices as more businesses ship by rail due to tight supply in the trucking market.

Berkshire's insurance unit, which includes Geico and several large reinsurance firms, reported a $441 million underwriting profit in the quarter.

Last year, Berkshire reported net earnings of $44.9 billion. Buffett spent $928 million to repurchase 225 Class A shares and 4.1 million Class B shares during the quarter. Berkshire Hathaway had a net margin of 19.78% and a return on equity of 5.51%. As of September 30, Berkshire owned a $57.6 billion stake in Apple.

A slump in Berkshire shares over the past month raises the question of whether Buffett will buy back more stock. That's up from $3.44 billion, or about $1.40 per B share.

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