Finance

Berkshire Hathaway’s operating earnings jump 21% as recovering economy boosts railroad, energy units

Warren Buffett at Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting in Los Angeles, California. May 1, 2021.
Gerard Miller | CNBC

Berkshire Hathaway‘s operating income continued to rebound as its myriad of businesses from energy to railroads benefited from the economic reopening.

The conglomerate reported operating earnings of $6.69 billion in the second quarter, up 21% from $5.51 billion in the same period a year ago, according to its earnings report released on Saturday.

Overall earnings, which reflect Berkshire’s fluctuating equity investments as well, increased 6.8% year over year to $28 billion in the second quarter.

Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett kept buying back Berkshire shares aggressively instead of making sizable acquisitions. The company repurchased $6 billion of its own stock in the second quarter, bringing the six month total to $12.6 billion. Berkshire bought a record $24.7 billion of its own stock last year.

At the end of June, Berkshire’s cash pile stood at $144.1 billion, holding steady from last quarter’s level and still near a record despite the company’s massive buyback program.

The results came as the conglomerate’s stock has wiped out all of its 2020 losses and hit a record high. Berkshire’s B shares are up 2.7% this month, bringing their year-to-date gain to over 23%.

As economic activity continues to grind back to life from the pandemic with more commodities and goods being shipped around the country, Berkshire’s Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad stands to benefit. Earnings for railroads, utilities and energy jumped more than 27% from a year ago in the period to $2.26 billion, Berkshire said.

The conglomerate’s other businesses, including homebuilders, paint-makers and GEICO insurance, are also seeing a boost.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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