Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Reports Rise in Net Earnings

Common stock of the company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, trading symbols BRK.A and BRK.B.

"American business - and consequently a basket of stocks - is virtually certain to be worth far more in the years ahead", Buffett wrote.

Berkshire's year-end results were released Saturday alongside Mr. Buffett's closely read annual letter to shareholders.

Berkshire's profits rose as Buffett's many investments in subsidiaries including Geico continued to pay off.

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Weighing in to the active versus passive funds management debate, Mr Buffett lashed the "huge" fixed fees "showered" on active fund managers for underperformance.

Quarterly operating profit fell 6 percent to US$4.38billion, or US$2,665 per share, from US$4.67 billion, or US$2,843 pershare.

To date, the hedge funds investing in more than 100 other hedge funds have delivered a compound annual return of just 2.2 per cent, versus 7.1 per cent for the index, allowing for fees.

"As the subject of repurchases has come to a boil, some people have come close to calling them un-American - characterizing them as corporate misdeeds that divert funds needed for productive endeavours", Mr Buffett said.

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But Buffett lavishly praised Berkshire executive Ajit Jain, widely considered a leading CEO candidate, for smoothly running much of the conglomerate's insurance businesses.

Berkshire, which became one of the top 10 Apple investors in 2016, has gained about $1.6 billion on its Apple investment after shares of the iPhone maker surged.

"If there were ever to be another Ajit and you could swap me for him, don't hesitate", Buffett wrote.

Berkshire's airline investments suggest that Buffett has overcome his two-decade aversion to the sector after an unhappy - though, he has said, profitable - investment in US Air Group. And he again praised the country's market system for its ability to allow Americans to continue building "mind-boggling amounts" of wealth over time.

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