Berkshire suffers first loss in decades

Berkshire Hathaway reported today its first loss in two decades after some charge offs particularly concerning derivatives and the investment in oil giant ConocoPhillips.  From Bloomberg:

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. posted its first loss since 2001 on what the billionaire chairman has called his “major mistake” of buying ConocoPhillips shares when oil prices were near their peak.

The first-quarter net loss of $1.53 billion, or $990 a share, compares with profit of $940 million, or $607, in the same period a year earlier, the Omaha, Nebraska-based firm said today in a statement. Writedowns on derivatives tied to corporate-debt indexes cost the company about $1.3 billion and Berkshire took a $1.9 billion charge on ConocoPhillips, contributing to the worst net loss in at least two decades.

I suppose the l0ss he incurred from his investment in Wells Fargo, that one stock he said he’s willing to put all his money in, wasn’t gigantic.  Back to COP: there’s something comforting in finding out, not that he lost so much from his investment in COP, but that he made a mistake. Simply humane.

“I in no way anticipated the dramatic fall in energy prices that occurred,” said Buffett, writing that he still expects an increase over time. “But so far I have been dead wrong. Even if prices should rise, moreover, the terrible timing of my purchase has cost Berkshire several billion dollars.”


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