Berkshire Hathaway Q3 beats consensus on investment gain, solid operations

Berkshire Hathaway shareholders walking by a video screen at the company's annual meeting in Omaha

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Insurance underwriting income was $441 million in the third quarter, compared to a loss of $1.4 billion in the year-ago period.

By that measure, Berkshire reported operating earnings of $6.88 billion, or about $2.79 per Class B share.

Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett discusses why he dislikes quarterly profit forecasts and how trade tariffs are impacting his companies.

The Omaha-based company's revenue grew to $63.45 billion in the quarter, which was up from $59.5 billion past year. Zero analysts have issued estimates for Berkshire Hathaway's earnings, with estimates ranging from $2.44 to $2.50. The year prior included major losses due to three U.S. hurricanes and an natural disaster in Mexico. Warren Buffett has said the rule could lead to "wild and capricious" results and mislead investors, who should look at operating profit instead.

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Berkshire Hathaway reported earnings of $1.40 per share in the same quarter last year, which suggests a positive year-over-year growth rate of 76.4%.

Berkshire warned that insurance losses due to Hurricane Michael are now estimated in the $350 million to $550 million range for the fourth quarter. New accounting rules that took effect this year forced Berkshire to change the way it records the value of its investments. The last time Berkshire bought its own stock was in December 2012. And the company's book value per Class A share, reflecting assets minus liabilities and a preferred measure of growth for Buffett, was $228,712 on September 30, higher than $217,677 one quarter ago.

But the fact that Berkshire is buying its own stock while holding more than $100 billion in cash and short-term investments is a reminder that Buffett hasn't been able to find other large acquisitions and investments at attractive prices recently.

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. Its insurance and utility businesses typically account for more than half of the company's net income.

Some of its investments have been lackluster in recent months, and Berkshire's continued support for big banks such as scandal-ridden Wells Fargo (WFC), Bank of America (BAC), US Bancorp (USB) and Bank of New York Mellon (BK) have dragged it down too.

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