Buffett praises Bank of America's buybacks

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The stake of 61.2 million shares was acquired previous year for $6.75 billion, an average of about $110.17 apiece, according to the annual report Saturday from Berkshire, which is led by billionaire chairman Warren Buffett.

This year's letter and Berkshire's annual report gave no clues about who will succeed Buffett as chief executive officer, a question shareholders and Wall Street have speculated about increasingly in recent years. That's up from $5.48 billion, or $3.65 per Class B share.

Berkshire generated $58.3 billion revenue in the quarter, up from $51.7 billion a year earlier. Operating earnings, excluding some investment outcomes, were $US2,665 a share.

"Many of our investees, including Bank of America BAC", -1.42% have been repurchasing shares, some quite aggressively.

"As the subject of repurchases has come to a boil, some people have come close to calling them un-American - characterizing them as corporate misdeeds that divert funds needed for productive endeavours", Mr Buffett said.

"This letter was more about Warren and Charlie's epitaph even more so than prior letters", said Smead, who is with Seattle-based Smead Capital Management.

Berkshire Hathaway Inc is a holding company owning subsidiaries engaged in various business activities.

"Charlie and I love our railroad, which was one of our best purchases", Buffett said, referring to longtime Berkshire Vice Chairman Charlie Munger.

For the full year, Berkshire's earnings were almost flat at $24.07 billion, or $16.05 per Class B share. Its insurance and utility businesses typically account for more than half of the company's net income.

Despite having previously disparaged airline stocks and the industry as a whole, Buffett and his Berkshire Hathaway investing group bought large amounts of stock in each of the four major airlines - Delta, United, American, and Southwest - in late 2016.

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