Buffett defends Berkshire stock push, reassures on future as profit smashes record

FILE PHOTO: Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett walks through the exhibit hall as shareholders gather to hear from the billionaire investor at Berkshire Hathaway Inc's annual shareholder meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S., May 4, 2019. REUTERS/Scott Morgan

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Warren Buffett on Saturday forcefully defended Berkshire Hathaway Inc’s (BRKa.N) decision to invest heavily in stocks of companies such as Apple Inc (AAPL.O) as he labors through a four-year drought since his last major acquisition of a company.

Buffett, 89, also used his annual letter to Berkshire shareholders to assure they should not worry about the future of the company, which is “100% prepared” for when he and 96-year-old Vice Chairman Charlie Munger are no longer around.

Berkshire also posted record full-year earnings of $81.42 billion, nearly twice the prior high from 2017, boosted by unrealized gains from its stock investments. Operating profit, however, fell 3% to $23.97 billion.

The Omaha, Nebraska-based conglomerate ended the year with a $128 billion cash hoard, after repurchasing $2.2 billion of stock in the fourth quarter and $5 billion in 2019.

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