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Berkshire Hathaway's Q1 operating profits lower YOY on sliding insurance, railroad earnings

saw itsfirst-quarter operating earnings fall to $3.74 billion, or $2,274 per class Aequivalent share, from $4.24 billion, or $2,583 per class A equivalent share,in the prior-year period.

TheNebraska-based conglomerate said May 6 that its net earnings attributable toshareholders totaled $5.59 billion, or $3,401 per class A equivalent share,compared with $5.16 billion, or $3,143 per class A equivalent share, in thesame quarter a year ago.

Thecompany's net earnings benefited from $1.85 billion of investment andderivative gains in the first quarter, up from $920 million in the year-agoperiod.

Berkshiresaw lower operating earnings from its insurance underwriting activities,reporting $213 million in the quarter, down from $480 million in the 2015 firstquarter. Its insurance investment income rose to $919 million, from $875million in the year-earlier quarter.

Thecompany received $1.23 billion of operating earnings from its railroad, utilitiesand energy segments, down from $1.47 billion in the same quarter in 2015. Itsother businesses generated $1.58 billion of operating profits, up from $1.41billion in the prior-year quarter.

Berkshire's"other" segment lost $197 million on an operating basis in the firstquarter, compared with an operating profit of $11 million in the same quarter ayear earlier.

Chairman,President and CEO Warren Buffett during Berkshire's April 30 annual meetingattributed the loweryear-over-year earnings in part to the impact of insurance claim losses tied tohailstorms in Texas and other catastrophes. The railroad segment alsoencountered more difficult industry conditions, he said.

Berkshire'sbook value grew to $157,369 per class A equivalent share as of March 31,representing a 1.2% increase from the end of 2015. The company's insurancefloat stood at about $89 billion as of the end of March.