Berkshire Hathaway Most Expensive U.S. Stock

October 10, 2006

The most expensive stock in the United States passed a unique plateau, as the price for a Class A share of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. briefly surpassed $100,000.

The shares closed up $1,296, or 1.3 percent, at $98,995 on volume of 830 shares, more than twice the average daily volume. During the session, shares reached $100,100 _ an all-time high.

Berkshire Hathaway shares are not only expensive, they are rare compared with those of other large, publicly traded companies. At the end of June, there were 1.13 million shares of the more expensive Class A variety and 12.41 million Class B shares in existence.

The Class B shares, which are worth about 1/30 of Class A shares, were first issued some years ago in part to give less wealthy investors a chance to benefit from the company’s consistently strong results. But those shares have since joined the rarified ranks of highly expensive stocks, closing at $3,280 Thursday, up $30, or 0.9 percent.

Berkshire Hathaway’s core insurance business is expected to do well in the third quarter and for the year, especially as catastrophe losses due to hurricanes in the United States have been far below expectations this year.

The Omaha, Nebraska-based investment holding company’s major reinsurance operations, General Re and National Indemnity, were poised to become the largest writer of mega-catastrophe coverage in the world, and at far higher prices than last year, wrote Buffett, the company’s chairman and chief executive since 1970, in his letter to shareholders earlier this year.

Berkshire Hathaway also owns fast-growing Geico, the fourth-largest U.S. auto insurer.

Berkshire Hathaway has substantial stock holdings of several major U.S. companies. At the end of 2005, it owned 12.2 percent of American Express Co. shares, 18 percent of Washington Post Co., 8.4 percent of Coca-Cola Co., 0.5 percent of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., and 5.7 percent of Wells Fargo & Co., among others.

Buffett owned 498,320 Class A shares as of May. He is the only person who owns more than 5 percent of the company’s shares.

Earlier this year, he estimated that the book value of a share has grown from $19 when the present management took over to $59,377 at the end of 2005, or a 21.5 percent compounded annual growth rate.

In June, Buffett said he planned to donate his fortune to the charitable foundation run by friends and fellow billionaires Bill and Melinda Gates.

Buffett promised to donate 10 million Class B shares to the Gates’ foundation. He has also donated shares to foundations run by family members.

Topics USA Berkshire Hathaway

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