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Why Is Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK.B) Down 2.3% Since Last Earnings Report?

Zacks Equity Research
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A month has gone by since the last earnings report for Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK.B). Shares have lost about 2.3% in that time frame, underperforming the S&P 500.

Will the recent negative trend continue leading up to its next earnings release, or is Berkshire Hathaway Inc. due for a breakout? Before we dive into how investors and analysts have reacted as of late, let's take a quick look at the most recent earnings report in order to get a better handle on the important catalysts.

Berkshire Q4 Earnings Up on Solid Segmental Results

Berkshire Hathaway delivered fourth-quarter 2018 earnings of $5.7 billion, up 71.4% year over year. This improvement was mainly attributable to solid results across all segments.

Operating earnings of $24.8 billion increased 71.4% year over year.

Behind 2018 Highlights

Revenues increased 3.9% year over year to $247.8 billion.

Costs and expenses inched down 0.9% year over year to $219.2 billion.

Pre-tax income came in at $6.2 billion, down 70.4% year over year.

Segment Results

Berkshire Hathaway’s huge and growing Insurance Operations segment kept its underwriting profit streak alive for more than 15 years. Revenues from the Insurance group declined 5.2% year over year to $57.4 billion. This segment’s net earnings attributable to Berkshire Hathaway were $6.1 billion, surging 268% year over year.

Railroad, Utilities and Energy operating revenues grew 9.2% year over year to $44.7 billion owing to higher contribution from both Burlington Northern SantaFe Corp. (BNSF) and Berkshire Hathaway Energy. Net earnings of $7.8 billion were up 30.8% year over year, primarily banking on a 99.1% surge in the railroad business (driven by an expanded unit volume, higher average revenue per car/unit and a lower effective tax rate) as well as a 28.9% increase from the energy business.

Total revenues at Manufacturing, Service and Retailing rose 4.5% year over year to $139 billion. Net earnings grew 28.6% year over year to $9.4 billion.

Financial Position

As of Dec 31, 2018, consolidated shareholders’ equity was $348.76 billion, up 0.1% from the level as of Dec 31, 2017. At 2018-end, cash and cash equivalents were $30.361 billion, down 3.7% from the level at 2017 end.

As of Dec 31, 2018, Berkshire Hathaway’s book value was $141.67, down from $152.47 per share as of Sep 30, 2018.

The company exited 2018 with a float of about $123 billion, up $8 billion from the tally at year-end 2017.

Cash flow from operating activities totaled $37.4 billion in 2018, plunging nearly 18.2% from 2017.

How Have Estimates Been Moving Since Then?

Analysts were quiet during the last two month period as none of them issued any earnings estimate revisions.

VGM Scores

At this time, Berkshire Hathaway Inc. has an average Growth Score of C, a grade with the same score on the momentum front. Charting a somewhat similar path, the stock was allocated a grade of D on the value side, putting it in the bottom 40% for this investment strategy.

Overall, the stock has an aggregate VGM Score of D. If you aren't focused on one strategy, this score is the one you should be interested in.


Berkshire Hathaway Inc. has a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). We expect an above average return from the stock in the next few months.

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