Warren Buffett’s Berkshire posts record $30.8 billion annual operating profit… calls stock buyback critics ‘economic illiterate’

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc BRK-A-N +0.04%increase
on Saturday reported its highest-ever annual operating profit, even as foreign currency losses and lower gains from investments caused fourth-quarter profit to fall.

Buffett called 2022 a “good year” for Berkshire in his annual shareholder letter after the conglomerate’s dozens of businesses generated $30.8 billion of profit despite rising inflation and supply chain disruptions, including from the war in Ukraine.

Berkshire also bulked up its cash hoard, ending the year with $128.6 billion.

The Omaha, Nebraska-based conglomerate sold about $16.3 billion of stocks in the fourth quarter and found better value repurchasing its own shares, buying back $2.6 billion in the quarter and $7.9 billion for all of 2022.

Berkshire shareholders “trust us to treat their money as we do our own,” Buffett said in his letter. “And that is a promise we can make.”

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Warren Buffett defended stock buybacks in Berkshire Hathaway’s annual letter, pushing back on those railing against the practice he believes to be beneficial to all shareholders.

“When you are told that all repurchases are harmful to shareholders or to the country, or particularly beneficial to CEOs, you are listening to either an economic illiterate or a silver-tongued demagogue (characters that are not mutually exclusive),” the 92-year-old investor said in the much-anticipated letter released Saturday.

The “Oracle of Omaha” initiated a buyback program in 2011 and relied on repurchases in recent years during a competitive deal-making environment and an expensive stock market. The conglomerate spent a record $27 billion in buybacks in 2021 as Buffett found few opportunities externally.


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