• By The Financial District


Warren Buffett’s conglomerate reported an 82% jump in its third-quarter profit as the value of its investment portfolio soared, but Berkshire Hathaway said the coronavirus pandemic continued to hurt its assorted businesses, such as BNSF railroad, Josh Funk reported for the Associated Press (AP).

Berkshire said Saturday that it earned $30.1 billion, or $18,994 per Class A share, during the quarter. That’s up from $16.5 billion, or $10,119 per Class A share, a year ago. Most of the gains were due to a $24.8 billion improvement in the estimated value of Berkshire’s investments, which include large stakes in Apple and Bank of America. 

Buffett maintains that Berkshire’s operating earnings offer a better view of quarterly performance because they exclude investments and derivatives, which can vary widely. By that measure, Berkshire’s operating earnings declined by 32%, to $5.49 billion, or $3,452.45 per Class A share. That’s down from $8.07 billion, or $4,943.04 per Class A share, a year earlier. 

The four analysts surveyed by FactSet expected Berkshire to report operating earnings per Class A share of $3,587.63. Berkshire said its revenue slipped by 3% in the quarter, to $63.02 billion. Edward Jones analyst Jim Shanahan said it was impressive to see Berkshire’s revenue remain close to last year’s level given all the challenges in the overall economy. “I think you’d struggle to find many, if any, companies that are reporting only modest declines in revenues,” Shanahan said.