US : Berkshire sets record as Trump boosts prospects, Buffett’s wealth
Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N) shares posted one of their best weeks in years, soaring 9.5 percent and touching a record high, even though Chairman Warren Buffett’s choice for the White House, Hillary Clinton, was defeated by Donald Trump.
The conglomerate’s Class A shares closed on Friday up $ 1,110 at $ 234,860, a day after surpassing their record set in December 2014. Its Class B shares did even better, rising 9.8 percent.
Berkshire’s gains trounced the 3.8 percent increase this week in the Standard & Poor’s 500 .SPX.
They also boosted Buffett’s net worth to $ 70.3 billion, pushing him past Amazon.com Inc’s (AMZN.O) Jeff Bezos to again become the world’s third richest person, Forbes magazine said.
Buffett, 86, owns about 18 percent of Berkshire, which he has run from Omaha, Nebraska since 1965.
Berkshire owns roughly 90 companies including the BNSF railroad, Geico car insurance and several energy and industrial businesses. It also has big stakes in financial stocks such as Wells Fargo & Co (WFC.N) and American Express Co (AXP.N).
Many of Berkshire’s businesses and investments may benefit if Trump’s ascendance to the presidency heralds greater government spending and fewer regulatory hurdles.
BNSF, for example, has seen profit fall 19 percent in 2016, weighed down by declining shipments of coal. But that industry could be buoyed if Trump fulfills his promise to invigorate mining, and perhaps ease limits on carbon emissions.
Meanwhile, shares of Wells Fargo, in which Berkshire owns a 10 percent stake, rose 16 percent this week despite being enmeshed in a scandal over employees who set up accounts without customers’ permission, in a drive to meet sales goals.
In an interview broadcast on Friday, Buffett told CNN that Wells Fargo had a “dumb incentive system,” and that its former Chief Executive John Stumpf, who left his post in October, was a decent man who nonetheless made a “hell of a mistake” and failed to correct it.
Still, Buffett said he had not sold Wells Fargo shares.
He also remained confident about longer-term prospects for equities, of which Berkshire owned more than $ 131 billion at the end of September. Berkshire’s own market value is roughly $ 386 billion.
“The stock market will be higher 10, 20, 30 years from now,” Buffett told CNN. “It would have been with Hillary, and it … will be with Trump.”
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