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Q4 Earnings Beat, Higher Revs at Berkshire

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Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK.B) reported fourth-quarter 2013 operating earnings of $1.53 per share, significantly ahead of the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.40.
Earnings also compared favorably with $1.14 per share reported in the year-ago quarter. Year-over-year earnings growth was attributable to solid performance from Berkshire’s insurance, energy as well as manufacturing, retail and service businesses.
For the full year 2013, earnings came in at $6.14 per share higher than the Zacks Consensus Estiamte of $5.84 per share.

Revenues for 2013 escalated 12% year over year to $182.2 billion, led by higher revenues across all business segments – Insurance, Railroad, Utilities and Energy, and Financial and Financial products.
Segment Results
Revenues at the Insurance Group segment increased 6.2% year over year to $41.4 billion, led by strong performance from Geico, General Re, Berkshire Hathaway Primary Group, partially offset by lower premiums from Berkshire Hathaway Reinsurance Group.   
The Railroad, Utilities and Energy segment’s operating revenues scaled up 6.7% year over year to $34.7 billion. Of the total segment revenue, approximately 60% came from Burlington Northern Santa Fe – the railroad company which was acquired in Feb 2010. An increase in industrial and agricultural activity has revived the demand for rail services and this, in turn, translated into greater consumer demand for the segment. The trend is likely to continue in the coming years as well.

The company expects earnings from MidAmerican to improve $1 billion if the U.S. economy continues to improve in 2014.

Total revenue at the Manufacturing, Service and Retailing segment climbed 14.4% year over year to $95.3 billion.
The Finance & Financial Products segment revenues rose 8.2% year over year to $7.1 billion.  
Berkshire's cash hoard climbed to $48.2 billion as of Dec 31, 2013 from $47 billion as of Dec 31, 2012. The company is eyeing more acquisitions after buying NV Energy last year for $5.6 billion.

Zacks Rank

Berkshire Hathaway currently retains a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Other Stocks to Consider

Better-ranked stocks in the same industry such as Alleghany Corp. (Y - Free Report) , American Financial Group Inc. (AFG - Free Report) and AmTrust Financial Services, Inc. (AFSI - Free Report) are worth considering. All these stocks sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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