Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway recorded an increase in earnings in the first quarter, largely driven by the recovery of its insurance business. The conglomerate's operating earnings, which consist of profits from its fully-owned businesses, totaled $8.065 billion, marking a 12.6% rise compared to the previous year's $7.16 billion.
Insurance underwriting profit surged from $167 million to $911 million, while insurance investment income jumped 68% from $1.170 billion to $1.969 billion.
Geico returned to underwriting profits of $703 million in the quarter after it had suffered a $1.9 billion pretax underwriting loss last year due to a loss of market share to competitor Progressive.
Berkshire's other controlled and non-controlled businesses saw slight year-over-year increases, while its railroad and energy companies recorded declines in earnings.
The conglomerate's cash hoard increased to $130.616 billion from $128 billion in the previous quarter, while Berkshire repurchased $4.4 billion worth of stock, the most since Q1 2021, up from $2.8 billion at the end of 2022.
Berkshire's net earnings, which include short-term investment gains, increased from $5.6 billion in the same period last year to $35.5 billion, driven by a first-quarter comeback in Warren Buffett's equity investments, such as Apple.
However, Warren Buffett warns investors not to pay attention to quarterly fluctuations in unrealized gains on investments. Berkshire Hathaway's latest quarterly results precede the conglomerate's annual shareholders meeting, also known as "Woodstock for Capitalists."
Berkshire Class A shares have risen by 4.9% this year through Friday's close, lagging behind the S&P 500's 7.7% increase, but the stock is less than 3% below an all-time high.
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