Selling in stocks intensified this afternoon, as the Dow (DJINDICES:^DJI) and the broader S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) ended the day down roughly 1%.

The micro view
Fun fact: Candy-to-railcar conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.B) is one of only three U.S. companies with a market value over $200 billion that are not in the Dow -- the other two are Apple and Google.

Berkshire reported its third-quarter results after the close today, announcing earnings of $2,272 per Class A share, compared to $1,380 a year ago. However, treat the headline numbers with caution; for example, the prior year quarter included $1.587 billion in (temporary) derivatives losses, compared to just $76 million last quarter. Book value has risen 12% through the first nine months of 2012, but the shares still trade at a modest 17% premium to that book value.

Berkshire's earnings press release emphasizes that "the limited information that follows in this press release is not adequate for making an informed investment judgment." Due to the extent of Berkshire's operations, making sense of the moving parts takes a bit of time and experience following the company.

Fool analyst and Inside Value advisor Joe Magyer has been following Berkshire for years; in his premium report, published in September, he writes: "No investment is a slam dunk, but the range of outcomes with Berkshire's stock today skews deeply in investors' favor." Click here to receive his report and a year's worth of updates that will include a full analysis of today's earnings report.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.