Berkshire Hathaway net jumps 58%

/ Source: staff and news service reports

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett’s holding company Berkshire Hathaway Inc. said Friday that third-quarter earnings rose 58 percent, helped by higher insurance premiums.

The Omaha, Nebraska-based company, whose patchwork of businesses includes GEICO insurance, Dairy Queen restaurants and Fruit of the Loom underwear, reported third-quarter net income of $1.8 billion, or $1,176 per share, compared with $1.14 billion, or $744 per share, a year earlier.

The per-share amounts are high because the company has relatively few shares outstanding. Each “A” share closed Friday on the New York Stock Exchange at $80,000.

Berkshire said investment gains more than doubled to $453 million from $164 million.

Earnings excluding investment gains, which Berkshire said is a more accurate gauge of its performance, rose 38 percent to $1.35 billion, from $977 million.

Even excluding special onetime factors, “Earnings for the third quarter and first nine months of 2003 were more than satisfactory,” the company said in a news release.

Revenue rose to $18.23 billion from $10.6 billion a year earlier, with much of the increase attributed to Berkshire’s acquisition of grocery distributor McLane Co. from Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in May.

Reuters contributed to this story.