Warren Buffett calls Berkshire Hathaway’s non-insurance operations “our most valuable grove,” ranging “from twigs to redwoods.”
As a group, these companies earned pre-tax income in 2018 of $20.8 billion, a 24% increase over 2017, Berkshire reported.
And in 2018, Buffett points out, the cut in the federal corporate tax rate at the beginning of the year resulted in an after-tax gain of 47%.
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Buffett in the annual report says that the gains were tempered some when the benefits for its large utility operation were passed along to customers.
The tax rate on dividends from domestic corporations remained at about 13 percent.
“Overall, however, the new law made our businesses and the stocks we own considerably more valuable,” Buffett wrote.
Here are some other numbers related to Berkshire Hathaway companies:
» There are more than 80 Berkshire-owned companies, and one, Marmon, is a holding company that conducts operations through more than 100 manufacturing and services businesses.
» Berkshire companies employed 389,373 people at the end of 2018, and 26 of those were in the Omaha corporate office. The biggest employers are BNSF Railway (45,000) and Geico (39,982).
Berkshire has 12 insurance businesses, 23 manufacturing businesses, a railroad, a collection of energy companies and 26 service and retailing businesses. Many are household names: Dairy Queen, Helzberg Diamonds, Pampered Chef, Duracell, Fruit of the Loom and Benjamin Moore. Locally based Berkshire companies include Nebraska Furniture Mart, Borsheims, Oriental Trading and BH Media, owner of The World-Herald.
» The insurance companies have operated at an underwriting profit for 15 of the past 16 years. For the 16-year-span, their pre-tax gain totaled $27 billion, and $2 billion of that was in 2018.