WRAPUP-Buffett defends investments in stocks, which fueled record Berkshire profit

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FILE PHOTO: Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett walks through the exhibit hall as shareholders gather to hear from the billionaire investor at Berkshire Hathaway Inc’s annual shareholder meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S., May 4, 2019. REUTERS/Scott Morgan

(Reuters) – Warren Buffett on Saturday defended Berkshire Hathaway Inc’s decision to invest heavily in the stocks of companies such as Apple Inc, as the conglomerate struggled to find whole businesses to buy.

Buffett made his assessment in his annual letter to Berkshire shareholders, where the 89-year-old also assured that Berkshire is “100% prepared” for the eventual departures of himself and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger, 96.

Berkshire also reported record net income for the year of $81.42 billion, reflecting enormous gains in its common stock holdings, though operating profit fell 3%.

The annual letter has long been eagerly awaited by investors and fans for its straight talk about Berkshire, the economy, investing and other topics.

It has been shorter in recent years, with Buffett saving many of his comments for television interviews and Berkshire’s annual shareholder meeting, which is webcast.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Frances Kerry

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