Buffett's firm reports nearly $50B loss as investments drop

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Warren Buffett’s company reported a nearly $50 billion loss on Saturday because of a huge drop in the paper value of its investments, though the company is still sitting on a huge pile of cash.

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. said it lost $49.7 billion, or $30,653 per Class A share, during the first quarter. That's down from last year's profit of $21.66 billion, or $13,209 per Class A share.

The biggest factor in the loss was a $54.5 billion loss on the value of Berkshire's investment portfolio as the stock market declined sharply after the coronavirus outbreak began. The year before, Berkshire's investments added $15.5 billion to the company's profits.

Buffett has long said 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 improved to $5.87 billion, or $3,617.62 per Class A share, from $5.56 billion, or $3,387.56 per Class A share.

Analysts surveyed by FactSet expected operating earnings per Class A share of $3,796.90 on average.

Berkshire's revenue grew 1 percent to $61.27 billion.

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Berkshire is sitting on a pile of more than $137 billion cash because Buffett has struggled to find major acquisitions for the company recently

On Saturday afternoon, Buffett plans to lead an abbreviated online version of Berkshire's annual meeting without any of the roughly 40,000 shareholders who typically attend. The company shifted to an online meeting and cancelled all the events surrounding the event because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. owns more than 90 companies, including the BNSF railroad and insurance, utility, furniture and jewelry businesses. The company also has major investments in such companies as Apple, American Express, Coca-Cola and Bank of America.

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