Buffett's annual results, released on Saturday morning, included fourth-quarter numbers that were impressive, led by recent railroad purchase Burlington Northern and derivatives gains of $1.4 billion. Net income increased 43% in the fourth quarter, year over year, and Buffett estimates in the annual letter that Berkshire's purchase of Burlington Northern will increase aftertax earnings by 30%. Burlington Northern added $1 billion to Berkshire Hathaway net earnings in the fourth quarter. Overall, net income was up 61% in 2010 for Berkshire.
Berkshire Hathaway's net income increased to $4.38 billion, or $2,656 per Class A share, in the fourth quarter, up from $3 billion, or $1,969 per Class A share, a year earlier. Book value, Buffett's preferred metric for charting company performance -- vs., for example, quarterly net income, which he lambastes in his new annual letter -- rose in the last three months of 2010 to $157.3 billion, from $149.7 billion on Sept. 30.
One key aspect of Buffett's optimism about the U.S. economy is tied to Berkshire's spending plans and his continued aggressive stance toward mega-acquisitions.
I'll believe corporations are persons when Texas executes one.: LBJ's Ghost