$3 billion bad weather blast batters Berkshire

The Omaha, Nebraska-based conglomerate owns Geico and several other insurers, including General Reinsurance.

Operating earnings reported by the insurer for Q3 and first nine months of 2017 are net of pre-tax underwriting losses of approximately $3 billion ($1.95 billion after-tax).

Just when the biggest USA conglomerates find themselves having to defend their sprawling structures or be forced to dismantle them - think General Electric Co., Honeywell International Inc., Procter & Gamble Co. and so on - Warren Buffett can sit back, grin and take another swig of Cherry Coke.

Berkshire Hathaway's earnings results are closely watched on Wall Street because the company's businesses reach into virtually every corner of the USA economy.

Edward Jones analyst Jim Shanahan said the insurance losses were larger than he expected.

It had even eked out a small underwriting profit in 2005, the year of Hurricanes Katrina, Wilma, Rita and Dennis.

Its insurance underwriting business, which also took a hit from an natural disaster in Mexico, suffered a loss of $1.44 billion, vs. a profit of $272 million in the same period a year ago.

Operating EPS was $2,094, vs. expectations for $2,351. Meanwhile, the manufacturing operations - which expanded with Berkshire's $37 billion takeover of Precision Castparts that closed early previous year - just cranked out its own record profit.

Berkshire recorded much lower investment gains this year with $623 million in the quarter.

Investors have remained confident in Berkshire's prospects, and have boosted its share price 15 percent this year.

Its Class B shares were down $1.27 to $186 in after-hours trading Friday following the release of the earnings report.

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