Some of Berkshire Hathaway Inc’s largest units will post record profits this year, but the conglomerate’s housing-related businesses are doing as poorly as they ever have, Chief Executive Warren Buffett said on Tuesday.
Speaking at a Fortune magazine event, Buffett said Berkshire’s Burlington Northern rail unit, its MidAmerican energy unit, manufacturer Iscar and diversified group Marmon will all post record profits this year.
On the other hand, Buffett said Berkshire’s Shaw Carpet unit is down about 25 percent of its staff, while the Acme Brick business has idled half its factories.
“As of today our housing-related businesses are as bad as they’ve ever been during this period,” Buffett told the conference in a question and answer session led by his long-time friend Carol Loomis.
The one large business Buffett did not mention was Berkshire’s insurance business, which ranges from auto insurer Geico to reinsurer National Indemnity. He has previously said Berkshire’s insurance business might post an underwriting loss for the year due to severe natural disasters.