Berkshire Hathaway fourth-quarter operating earnings fall 8%, cash hoard swells to nearly $130 billion

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Warren Buffett.
Gerald Miller | CNBC

Berkshire Hathaway's operating profits fell during the fourth quarter as inflationary pressures weighed on the conglomerate's businesses.

Berkshire Hathaway's operating earnings totaled $6.7 billion in the fourth quarter of 2022, a release read Saturday. That's down 7.9% from the year-earlier period when profits totaled $7.285 billion. Operating earnings refers to the total profits made from the businesses owned by the conglomerate.

For the year, the conglomerate's operating earnings totaled $30.793 billion. That's up 12.2% from $27.455 billion in 2021.

Meanwhile, Berkshire used $2.855 billion to buy back shares in the fourth quarter. That's lower than the year-earlier period when share repurchases totaled approximately $6.9 billion.

Given this, Berkshire's cash hoard grew to $128.651 billion in the fourth quarter of 2022. That's up from nearly $109 billion in the third quarter.

Buffett said in his annual shareholder letter that Berkshire will continue to hold a "boatload" of cash and U.S. Treasury bills along with its myriad of businesses. He specified that future CEOs in the company will have a "significant part" of their net worth in Berkshire shares.

"We will also avoid behavior that could result in any uncomfortable cash needs at inconvenient times, including financial panics and unprecedented insurance losses," Buffett wrote.

"And yes, our shareholders will continue to save and prosper by retaining earnings. At Berkshire, there will be no finish line."


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