Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren E. Buffett rings the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange after the opening bell on Wall Street In New York City in September 2011. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
Feb. 26 (UPI) -- Warren Buffett's company Berkshire Hathaway reported nearly $40 billion in profit in the fourth quarter of 2021.
Berkshire Hathaway's earnings in the fourth quarter increased about 10% to $39.6 billion from $35.8 billion reported in the same period in 2020, according to a financial statement released Saturday.
The company's full-year earnings after taxes more than doubled in 2021 compared to 2020, reaching nearly $90 billion. Berkshire Hathaway reported that it repurchased about $6.9 billion in shares during the fourth quarter, taking the total value of shares it repurchased in the year to about $27 billion.
Buffett, ranked by Forbes as the eighth richest person in the world, released his annual letter to shareholders Saturday.
In the letter, Buffett praised the U.S.-based "infrastructure" assets it owns and operates beyond its collection of financial assets.
"At yearend, those domestic infrastructure assets were carried on Berkshire's balance sheet at $158 billion. That number increased last year and will continue to increase. Berkshire always will be building," Buffett wrote.
Berkshire Hathaway wholly owns and operates industrial and infrastructure businesses such as Geico, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad, Acme Brick Company, Benjamin Moore and Clayton Homes, among many other companies.
Buffett particularly noted the successes of the companies serving its "big four" markets, which account for the lion's share of Berkshire Hathaway's value.
Berkshire Hathaway "effectively owns 100%" of its insurance subsidiaries, which lead the list for the company's most valuable assets, Buffett said.
"The insurance business is made to order for Berkshire. The product will never be obsolete, and sales volume will generally increase along with both economic growth and inflation," Buffett wrote. "Also, integrity and capital will forever be important. Our company can and will behave well."
Buffett said the second most valuable asset is its 5.5% ownership of Apple, which provided for $785 million in dividends paid to Berkshire Hathaway. He praised the Apple CEO Tim Cook for his "brilliant" leadership of the tech giant.
"Tim Cook, Apple's brilliant CEO, quite properly regards users of Apple products as his first love, but all of his other constituencies benefit from Tim's managerial touch as well," Buffett wrote.
Berkshire Hathaway's third "giant," its BSNF railroad, was described by Buffett as "an indispensable asset for America as well as for Berkshire." The railroad had record earnings of $6 billion in 2021.
"BNSF trains traveled 143 million miles last year and carried 535 million tons of cargo. Both accomplishments far exceed those of any other American carrier," Buffett told shareholders. "You can be proud of your railroad."
Berkshire Hathaway Energy, the company's fourth "giant," earned a record $4 billion in 2021 and has become a "utility powerhouse," Buffett said.
He wrote that BHE has become "a leading force in wind, solar and transmission throughout much of the United States" under the leadership of David Sokol and Greg Abel.
Buffett added that the company will purchase further ownership of Pilot in 2023 to raise its ownership of the company to 80%.