Warren Buffett's company reports US$50 billion Q1 loss


Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc.is being hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, posting a record quarterly net loss of almost $50 billion on Saturday and saying performance is suffering in several major operating businesses.

Berkshire reported a first-quarter loss of $49.7 billion, or $30,653 per Class A share equivalent, from $21.66 billion, or $13,209 a share, in the year-earlier period.

The two men likely were likely to be asked about the almost $50 billion loss that Berkshire reported Saturday morning and the huge pile of cash the company is holding. Investors and non-investors alike can witness history, live, as Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett shares his unscripted views on the company, the markets, the economy, corporate governance, and a lot more.

The billionaire investor's company was widely expected to deploy a chunk of its $US128 billion cash pile last quarter, but instead its reserves grew to $US137 billion by the end of March. The year before, Berkshire's investments added $15.5 billion to the company's profits. Edward Jones analyst Jim Shanahan said it was striking that Buffett didn't find any bargains to invest in at the end of the first quarter.

Still, Shanahan said Berkshire is "as well positioned as it can be", reflecting its diverse businesses and substantial liquidity and access to capital.

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.

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Berkshire Hathaway Inc. owns more than 90 companies, including the BNSF railroad and insurance, utility, furniture and jewelry businesses.

Investors have been disappointed with Berkshire.

Expects 2020 underwriting results will be affected by lower premiums for certain business attributable to premium credits granted to policyholders and when premiums are a function of the insured's payroll.

"The Standard & Poor's 500 slid 20% in the first quarter but there were steeper falls in several large Berkshire holdings including American Express, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and four airlines - American, Delta, Southwest and United".

Falling stocks also caused a $1.39 billion pre-tax loss on derivatives contracts, where Berkshire is betting stock prices will rise over the long haul.