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 areÂ 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.
Alex Dumortier, CFA has no positions in the stocks mentioned above; you can follow him @longrunreturns. The Motley Fool owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Berkshire Hathaway. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.