Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. reported a record $49.75 billion first-quarter net loss on Saturday at the annual general meeting.
The loss reflected huge unrealised losses on common stock holdings such as Bank of America Corp and Apple Inc during the market meltdown.
While quarterly operating profit rose 6%, several larger businesses including the BNSF railroad posted declines.
Berkshire said some of its more than 90 businesses are facing “severe” negative effects from COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.
Buffett also let Berkshire’s cash stake soar to $137.3 billion as of March 31, reflecting difficulty in finding good places to invest.
However, the 89 year-old billionaire gave an upbeat assessment of the United States’ ability to withstand crises.
However, he acknowledged that the coronavirus pandemic could have a wide range of impacts on the economy.
Berkshire Hathaway Inc’s annual meeting in Omaha, Nebraska was held virtually for the first time, without shareholders, because of the pandemic.
The meeting was streamed by Yahoo Finance.
It was devoid of the surrounding three-day weekend of dining, shopping and other celebratory events that annually draw tens of thousands of people to Omaha for what Buffett calls “Woodstock for Capitalists.”
He was joined by Vice Chairman Greg Abel, 57, who has day-to-day oversight of Berkshire’s non-insurance businesses, and is considered by many analysts and investors a top candidate to eventually succeed Buffett as chief executive officer.