Berkshire Hathaway’s cash pile keeps growing.
Warren Buffett’s industrial and insurance conglomerate ended the second quarter with a record $122 billion in cash, according to an earnings report released on Saturday.
Buffett has said he wants to make a big acquisition, but in a letter to shareholders this year said prices “are sky-high for businesses possessing decent long-term prospects.” Buffett said last year that his investment philosophy is to stick with “big, ‘easy’ decisions and eschew activity.”
The lack of spending might also indicate Buffett is still optimistic in the current economy. After all, the billionaire’s Berkshire famously invested in Goldman Sachs during the 2008 financial crisis, at a tumultuous time when few besides the government were willing to lay dollars down.
“Due to the diversity of its businesses, Berkshire is a wonderful bellwether for what is going on in the economy,” said Trip Miller, managing partner at Gullane Capital. “Hopefully, cash will serve him and his partners well when the market suffers a pullback.”
The company posted operating earnings that are slightly down year over year, due in part to lower income from insurance underwriting. In the quarter ending in June, it posted $6.14 billion in operating earnings, compared with $6.89 billion in the same quarter last year.
Net earnings were $14 billion.
Berkshire (BERK) also disclosed that it did not receive financial statements for Q1 and Q2 from Kraft Heinz, which the company regards as its most “significant investment.” Kraft did provide its 2018 10-K filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, which led Berkshire (BERK) to reduce the carrying value of its Kraft investment by $34 million.
Kraft is set to release earnings on August 8, its first since it disclosed last year a more than $15 billion writedown on its Kraft and Oscar Mayer brands.
In May, Buffett called the news about Kraft not disclosing any financial documents “very unusual” and suggested that it could have been due to a dispute the company was having with its auditor, PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Berkshire also bought back about $442 million in stock last quarter, a down tick from the $1.7 billion purchased in the first quarter.
Previously, the company did not allow stock buybacks. The board changed a rule last year to allow the company to begin purchasing back billions of dollars worth of stock, a practice that has been criticized by some analysts as inflating share prices. In the first six months of this year, the company has bought back $2.1 billion.
Warren Buffet is well known as an investing guru who recommends diversification, and Berkshire certainly doesn’t have its eggs all in one basket. As of June 30, Berkshire had a $18.7 billion stake in equity securities in American Express, $50.5 billion in Apple, $27.6 billion in Bank of America, $20.4 billion in Coca-Cola and $20.5 billion in Wells Fargo.