updated 8/8/2006 11:42:13 AM ET 2006-08-08T15:42:13

Berkshire Hathaway Inc., billionaire Warren Buffett's investment vehicle, reported Friday that second-quarter earnings jumped 62 percent on strength in its investments and insurance and utility businesses.

Berkshire earned $2.35 billion, or $1,522 per share, for the three months ending June 30, versus $1.45 billion, or $941 per share, in the year-ago period, according to Berkshire's filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission released late Friday afternoon.

The Omaha-based company's revenue jumped 33 percent to $24.19 billion during the quarter. Berkshire had $37.3 billion cash on hand at the end of the quarter.

Berkshire officials typically do not comment on quarterly earnings reports, and they did not return calls seeking comment Friday.

Berkshire's insurance companies, which include auto insurer GEICO and reinsurance giant General Re, reported net underwriting earnings of $371 million, down slightly from last year's $376 million.

Berkshire Hathaway's Reinsurance Group is making more from catastrophic and individual risk contracts because fewer companies want to assume those risks after last year's devastating hurricanes, driving premiums higher. Berkshire said it generated $483 million in premiums for those policies during the quarter, up from $288 million last year.

But investments made by the insurance companies more than made up for the slight decline in underwriting profits. Those investments generated $782 million in net earnings, up from $585 million last year.

Berkshire's other investments earned $294 million during the quarter, compared to a loss of $160 million a year ago.

Most of that investment gain came from the sale of some investments, but Berkshire also made $87 million on its bet that the dollar would fall. Last year, the company lost $619 million in the second quarter on its short position on the U.S. currency.

Berkshire's utility businesses, helped by this year's acquisition of the utility PacifiCorp, generated $158 million of net earnings during the quarter, up from $100 million last year.

Berkshire said its quarterly utility revenue jumped from $1.65 billion last year to $2.69 billion this year, mostly because of PacifiCorp.

Buffett grabbed more headlines during the quarter than his company when he announced that he will give most of his roughly $44 billion fortune away to five foundations over time, with the biggest gift of 10 million Class B shares of Berkshire going to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

During the quarter, Berkshire completed its acquisition of Applied Underwriters, a San Francisco-based company.

Berkshire has not announced any major acquisitions since just before its annual shareholder meeting in May. Since then, the company has completed its $4 billion purchase of an 80 percent stake in Iscar Metalworking Cos., which makes metal cutting tools, and its $597.2 million acquisition of sportswear maker Russell Corp. But those deals were completed during the third quarter.

Berkshire officials noted in the quarterly report that the company is now more exposed to risks associated with political instability and civil unrest because Iscar is based in Israel and has substantial operations in northern Israel and Korea.

"The instability that has persisted in the Middle East increased notably in recent weeks," Chief Financial Officer Marc Hamburg wrote in the report. "Business operations could be adversely affected directly through the loss of human resources and destruction of production facilities."

The company released its earnings after the market closed. Class A shares of Berkshire stock gained $410, or less than 1 percent, Friday to close at $91,710 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Class B shares of Berkshire stock gained $8, or less than 1 percent, Friday to close at $3,050.

Berkshire owns more than 60 companies including insurance, clothing, furniture, jewelry and candy companies, restaurants, natural gas and corporate jet firms and has major investments in such companies as Coca-Cola Co., Anheuser-Busch Cos. and Wells Fargo & Co.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

Data: Latest rates in the US

Home equity rates View rates in your area
Home equity type Today +/- Chart
$30K HELOC FICO 4.93%
$30K home equity loan FICO 5.20%
$75K home equity loan FICO 4.58%
Credit card rates View more rates
Card type Today +/- Last Week
Low Interest Cards 13.42%
13.40%
Cash Back Cards 17.92%
17.91%
Rewards Cards 17.13%
17.11%
Source: Bankrate.com