Berkshire Hathaway posted sharply higher operating profits for the second quarter of 2010 thanks to strength in the insurance operations and major improvements in the company’s diverse collection of economically sensitive subsidiaries. However, quarterly net earnings declined to $1.97 billion from $3.3 billion in the prior year period primarily due to losses in the derivatives portfolio caused by broad declines in market indices in the second quarter. Book value per share declined to $86,661 per Class A share, down 3 percent for the quarter due to unrealized losses in Berkshire’s large portfolio of publicly traded stocks. Read this article for full details on Q2 Results.
The process of estimating the ultimate losses resulting from an insurance company’s business is one of the most important tasks facing management. Many types of policies expose an insurer to liabilities over a very long period of time where the ultimate payout to policyholders will not be certain for years or even decades. Despite this uncertainty, management must estimate loss reserves for each financial reporting period. The credibility of these estimates depends, in part, on management’s track record with prior estimates. Read this article for more details.
General Re, a Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary, has reached a $92 million settlement with the federal government which will allow the firm to avoid prosecution for its role in an accounting fraud involving AIG. The Wall Street Journal reports that the settlement also includes corporate governance changes that will require Berkshire Hathaway’s Chief Financial Officer to attend meetings of General Re’s audit committee and mandates that General Re appoint an independent director. Read this article for more details.