Warren Buffett’s investing conglomerate saw record profits in 2013 of $19.5 billion, riding a wave of economic improvement in the United States, the company said in its annual report released Saturday.
Buffett’s holding company Berkshire Hathaway exceeded analysts’ expectations of $18 billion and saw significant gains over 2012, when it posted net profits of $14.8 billion.
The company’s stellar performance depends on well-known consumer goods and services that do well in economic boom times, as Buffett chiefly invests in established, large companies like Walmart, General Motors, American Express, and Coca-Cola.
Buffett’s annual shareholder letter, known for its rustic tone, emphasized his commitment to supporting American companies for the long term.
“Who has ever benefited during the past 237 years by betting against America? If you compare our country’s present condition to that existing in 1776, you have to rub your eyes in wonder. And the dynamism embedded in our market economy will continue to work its magic,” the so-called “Oracle of Omaha” said in the letter. “America’s best days lie ahead.”
Berkshire purchased major assets of NV Energy and H. J. Heinz Geico, which “will be prospering a century from now,” Buffett said. Berkshire’s insurance company reported a $394 million operating profit in the fourth quarter.
Buffet’s conglomerate didn’t edge out the S&P 500, which grew at a phenomenal rate of 32.4% last year, while Berkshire saw a gain in per-share book value of 18.2%. Since 1965, Berkshire has seen a compounded annual gain of 19.7%, while the S&P 500 has increased 9.8%.
Buffett, 83, has helmed Berkshire for more than half a century and overseen its growth into a $288 billion holding company.