Berkshire Hathaway’s massive cash pile keeps expanding, but Warren Buffett’s industrial and insurance conglomerate has yet to make a major acquisition to ramp up growth.
Berkshire on Saturday reported it has $128 billion in cash, up from $122 billion in the second quarter.
Berkshire Hathaway has lagged the market this year, and Buffett has said that he wants to make an “elephant” sized acquisition with the company’s mountain of cash. The problem is that the market rally has made any potential targets much more expensive, and Buffett has said he doesn’t want to overspend on deals.
Berkshire’s operating profit rose to $7.9 billion, up from $6.9 billion a year earlier, boosted by gains across its holdings. The Omaha, Nebraska-based company’s performance is tied to its many subsidiaries — which include GEICO, railroad Burlington Northern Santa Fe and consumer brands like Duracell, Dairy Queen and paint maker Benjamin Moore — as well as a massive investment portfolio.
Berkshire also said tariffs from the US-China trade war weighed on its consumer and industrial businesses. The tariffs cut into sales of Precision Castparts, it gas turbine and pipe products unit, the filings said. BNSF railroad saw a 5% profit gain due to cost-cutting measures to offset a drag from trade tensions.
While Berkshire has yet to make a major acquisition, the company has been taking steps to embrace more reasonably valued tech stocks in recent years. Berkshire Hathaway still owns large stakes in value stalwarts like Coke, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Kraft Heinz, which has taken billions of dollars in writedowns this year on some of its top brands.
But the company’s biggest holding now is Apple, and Berkshire even has a small stake in Amazon.
Berkshire Hathaway also purchased $700 million of its own stock in the third quarter, an uptick from the $442 million it bought last quarter. The company purchased $1.7 billion of its own shares in the first quarter.
Previously, the company did not allow stock buybacks. The board changed a rule last year to allow the company to begin purchasing back billions of dollars worth of stock, a practice that has been criticized by some analysts as inflating share prices.