While there are a lot of commentators out there commenting on Berkshire’s results, here is a short different take on it.
- In 2018, Berkshire took a pre-tax mark to market losses of $22.4B on investments and derivatives and $17.8B on a post tax basis
- Berkshire reinsurance group did not have a great year and lost $1.1B pre-tax driven by property casualty and retroactive reinsurance.
- Berkshire’s portion of the Kraft Heinz goodwill impairment was $2.7B in 2018
- $19.8B of Fixed Income securities compared to $172B of equities
- $109B in Cash and treasury bills
- Offset by strong earnings in the rest of the operating businesses and insurance companies resulting in a book value increase of 0.4% and net income of $4B for the year.
If on a year like this, Berkshire does not lose money, it talks a lot about the fortress balance sheet and the resiliency of the business model. I know that Buffett talks about not using BVPS any more. I look at it differently. It was an understated proxy for intrinsic value. Now, it is vastly understated for the intrinsic value.
It is often about return of capital before return on capital. There are a lot of commentary about Berkshire being an index fund. It might be but the risk profile is completely different.