Warren Buffett to step down from Kraft Heinz board

25 February, 2018, 00:34 | Author: Natasha Holloway
  • Warren Buffett’s optimism may get tested this year

Warren Buffett published his annual letter on Saturday, and it came with some of the usual trimmings: sage advice and reflections on the past year's success.

Be said Bershires' gain in net worth in 2017 was $65.3 billion, but $29 billion of that came from the Republican tax overhaul.

Still, he said, the company "will have opportunities to make very large purchases" going forward, with emphasis on those available at 'a sensible purchase price'. Berkshire typically pays all cash for acquisitions.

Buffett recognised this in his annual letter to shareholders, where he said the company's 2017 results were "far from standard".

"Our smiles will broaden when we have redeployed Berkshire's excess funds into more productive assets", Buffett wrote. "For that to happen, we will need to make one or more huge acquisitions".

Buffett concluded with a little advice to fellow investors: 'Though markets are generally rational, they occasionally do insane things, ' he wrote.

He also leveled criticism at what he called the "can-do" type of Wall Street CEO, who he said can be over eager to justify gobbling up another company.

It has been more than two years since Berkshire made a major purchase, the $32.1bn takeover of aircraft parts maker Precision Castparts. Buffett, Berkshire's chairman and chief executive, and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger will focus on investments and capital allocation under the arrangement.

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Last month, Buffett gave greater oversight of Berkshire's non-insurance businesses such as the BNSF railroad, Precision Castparts and Dairy Queen ice cream to the energy executive Gregory Abel, while the insurance specialist Ajit Jain added supervision of insurance operations such as the Geico auto insurer.

"Berkshire's blood flows through their veins", Buffett wrote.

Turning to investments, Berkshire's Apple holding was up to $28.2B at year-end, second only to Wells Fargo at $29.3B.

Buffett supported President Trump's Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, during the 2016 election.

"It is a bad mistake for investors with long-term horizons.to measure their investment "risk" by their portfolio's ratio of bonds to stocks", Buffett wrote in the February 24 letter.

With the exception of insurance, companies owned by Berkshire Hathaway increased their pre-tax profit by $950 million to $20 billion for the year, of which nearly half came from railway operator BNSF and Berkshire Hathaway Energy.

Operating profit fell 18 per cent to $14.5bn due to a $2.2bn loss from the group's insurance underwriting unit as a string of natural disasters hit the US.

Even so, insurance float, or premiums collected before claims are paid, and which give Buffett more money to invest, rose 25 percent past year, to $114.5 billion.


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