As the prices of Apple (AAPL.O) and other stocks it owns dropped on Saturday, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRKa.N) reported its first overall quarterly loss in a year. However, the company claimed that an increase in its insurance business drove operational profit to a record.
In the third quarter, Berkshire sold $5.3 billion more stocks than it purchased, sending its cash stake to a record $157.2 billion, signaling worry about prices even as its businesses performed better overall.
Berkshire also slowed repurchases of its own stock, buying back $1.1 billion in the third quarter.
Investors watch Berkshire closely because its results often reflect broader economic trends, and because of Buffett’s reputation as an investor.
The third-quarter net loss more than quadrupled to $12.77 billion, or $8,824 per Class A share, from $2.8 billion a year earlier.
Results included $23.5 billion of losses from investments, primarily reflecting a 12% decline in the stock price of Apple, in which Berkshire had owned a $177.6 billion stake.
Berkshire’s net results swing widely from quarter to quarter because accounting rules require the company to report investment gains and losses even if it buys and sells nothing. Buffett says the resulting volatility is usually meaningless.
Operating profit rose 41% to $10.76 billion, or $7,444 per Class A share, from $7.65 billion a year earlier.