Berkshire Hathaway speeds up stock buybacks

(Reuters) – Berkshire Hathaway has increased its pace of repurchasing its own shares, a sign that longtime Chairman Warren Buffett considers them undervalued and a good place to spend excess cash.

In its proxy filing on Friday, Berkshire said it repurchased the equivalent of 3,808 Class A shares this year through March 6, spending approximately $2.2 billion to $2.4 billion depending on the dates of the buybacks.

Nearly three-quarters of the repurchases took place after Feb. 12.

Berkshire repurchased $2.2 billion of its own stock in last year’s fourth quarter, and $9.2 billion in all of 2023.

Its peak year for buybacks was 2021, when they totaled $27 billion.

Buffett, 93, has run Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire since 1965, and oversees buybacks and other major capital allocation decisions.

Repurchases help Buffett deploy some of the conglomerate’s cash and equivalents, which totaled $167.6 billion at year end.

Berkshire has said it will maintain a $30 billion cash cushion, and that “financial strength and redundant liquidity will always be of paramount importance.”

Through Friday, Berkshire’s share price was up 14% this year, about twice the gain for the Standard & Poor’s 500.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Marguerita Choy)