Berkshire Hathaway reported fourth quarter and full-year results on Saturday February 22, and we appreciate the firm’s performance across most of its business lines, keeping in mind that losses at its insurance-underwriting business during the fourth quarter weakened its company-wide performance. That being said, the insurance business can be volatile at times, which is why we appreciate Berkshire’s large railroad, utility, consumer goods, and other business segments. On the topic of Berkshire’s insurance-related exposure to the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic (which has since spread from China to the rest of the world, shutting down economies in South Korea, Italy, and elsewhere), insurance firms fundamentally altered the structure of their policies after the 2002-2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (‘SARS’) outbreak to exclude epidemic coverage from most policies (save for insurance policies that explicitly cover those situations) according to the WSJ. Shares of Berkshire Class B stock are included in our Best Ideas Newsletter portfolio with a top-weighting, and over the past few months shares of BRK.B has begun converging towards our fair value estimate of $229 per share. Berkshire Class B shares could move towards the top end of our fair value range estimate of $275 per share, particularly if the company figures out where to invest its enormous cash pile.
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