Berkshire Hathaway Inc., the conglomerate controlled by billionaire Warren Buffett, said fourth-quarter profit climbed 32 percent on investments and earnings from the companyâ€™s expanding stable of operating businesses.
Net income rose to $5.48 billion, or $3,333 a share, from $4.16 billion, or $2,529, a year earlier, the company said in a statement. Operating earnings, which exclude some investment results, were $2,843 a share, beating the average $2,814 estimate of three analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.
The results cap another record year for Buffett, Berkshireâ€™s chairman and chief executive officer. Over the past five decades, he has built the Omaha, Nebraska-based company into a sprawling enterprise with a stock portfolio valued at more than $110 billion and interests in insurance, energy, manufacturing, media, retail and transportation.
While Berkshireâ€™s insurance and investment results fluctuate widely, the company owns dozens of businesses that churn out steadier earnings. In recent years, profit from these units â€” including railroad BNSF and a collection of electric utilities â€” has become a bigger portion of the bottom line because of Buffettâ€™s relentless dealmaking.
Berkshire bought a network of US car dealerships in 2015, and also struck one of its biggest deals ever: the $37.2 billion buyout of aerospace manufacturer Precision Castparts Corp. That transaction was completed after the fourth quarter. Buffettâ€™s company said Saturday that it also expects to complete the acquisition of the Duracell battery business from Procter & Gamble Co. this month.
â€œWe are getting a decent return on the capital we have deployedâ€ for manufacturing businesses, a category that includes chemical company Lubrizol and toolmaker Iscar, Buffett said in his annual letter. â€œEarnings from the group should grow substantially in 2016 as Duracell and Precision Castparts enter the fold.â€
Last year highlighted some of the challenges Buffett, 85, faces keeping his money-making machine moving forward. He made billions on an investment in the food industry.
, some of Buffettâ€™s major stock holdings slumped. Berkshireâ€™s own shares ended 2015 down 12 percent, compared with the 0.7 percent fall in the Standard & Poorâ€™s 500 Index.