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Berkshire Hathaway sees lower operating earnings YOY in Q4'17

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. has reported year-over-year fourth-quarter and full-year 2017 results showing a benefit of about $29.1 million related to tax reform.

Fourth-quarter operating earnings were $3.34 billion, compared with $4.38 billion in the year-ago period. Net earnings attributable to shareholders were $32.55 billion, or $19,790 per class A equivalent share, up from $6.29 billion, or $3,823 per class A equivalent share, in the fourth quarter of 2016. Net earnings benefited by about $29.1 million mainly from a reduction of net deferred income tax liabilities due to the reduction in the U.S. corporate income tax rate.

The company saw an insurance underwriting loss of $491 million, compared with insurance underwriting income of $548 million in the year-ago period. Investment income in the insurance segment was $1.00 billion, compared with $889 million in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Investments and derivatives gains fell in the quarter to $107 million, compared with $1.90 billion in the year-ago period.

Book value per class A equivalent share was $211,750 as of Dec. 31, 2017, up 23% from $172,108. The insurance float as of Dec. 31, 2017, was about $114 billion.

Operating earnings for the full year came in at $14.46 billion, down year over year from $17.58 billion. Net earnings attributable to shareholders were $44.94 billion, or $27,326 per class A equivalent share, compared with $24.07 billion, or $14,645 per class A equivalent share, in 2016.

Operating earnings for the year are net of pretax underwriting losses of about $3.0 billion, or $1.95 billion after tax, attributable to three major hurricanes in the U.S. and Puerto Rico and wildfires in California.