10-K 1 d303001d10k.htm FORM 10-K Form 10-K
Table of Contents

 

 

UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

FORM 10-K

ANNUAL REPORT

PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE

SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2016

Commission file number 001-14905

BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY INC.

(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its charter)

 

Delaware   47-0813844

State or other jurisdiction of

incorporation or organization

 

(I.R.S. Employer

Identification Number)

3555 Farnam Street, Omaha, Nebraska   68131
(Address of principal executive office)   (Zip Code)

Registrant’s telephone number, including area code (402) 346-1400

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

Title of each class

  

Name of each exchange on which registered

Class A common stock, $5.00 Par Value    New York Stock Exchange
Class B common stock, $0.0033 Par Value    New York Stock Exchange

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: NONE

Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.    Yes  ☑    No  ☐

Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.    Yes  ☐    No  ☑

Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months, and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.    Yes  ☑    No  ☐

Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Website, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulations S-T during the preceding 12 months.    Yes  ☑    No  ☐

Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of Registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K.  ☐

Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or a smaller reporting company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer” and “smaller reporting company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.:

 

Large accelerated filer ☑    Accelerated filer  ☐    Non-accelerated filer  ☐    Smaller reporting company  ☐

Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).    Yes  ☐    No  ☑

State the aggregate market value of the voting stock held by non-affiliates of the Registrant as of June 30, 2016: $278,053,000,000*

Indicate number of shares outstanding of each of the Registrant’s classes of common stock:

 

February 16, 2017—Class A common stock, $5 par value

     774,680 shares  

February 16, 2017—Class B common stock, $0.0033 par value

     1,304,592,522 shares  

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

 

Document

  

Incorporated In

Proxy Statement for Registrant’s Annual Meeting to be held May 6, 2017    Part III

 

* This aggregate value is computed at the last sale price of the common stock on June 30, 2016. It does not include the value of Class A common stock (316,766 shares) and Class B common stock (70,408,573 shares) held by Directors and Executive Officers of the Registrant and members of their immediate families, some of whom may not constitute “affiliates” for purpose of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

 

 

 


Table of Contents

Table of Contents

 

          Page No.  
Part I  

Item 1.

   Business      1  

Item 1A.

   Risk Factors      23  

Item 1B.

   Unresolved Staff Comments      26  

Item 2.

   Description of Properties      26  

Item 3.

   Legal Proceedings      30  

Item 4.

   Mine Safety Disclosures      30  
Part II  

Item 5.

  

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Security Holder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

     30  

Item 6.

   Selected Financial Data      31  

Item 7.

  

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

     32  

Item 7A.

   Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk      62  

Item 8.

   Financial Statements and Supplementary Data      63  
  

Consolidated Balance Sheets—
December 31, 2016 and December 31, 2015

     64  
  

Consolidated Statements of Earnings—
Years Ended December 31, 2016, December  31, 2015, and December 31, 2014

     66  
  

Consolidated Statements of Comprehensive Income—
Years Ended December  31, 2016, December 31, 2015, and December 31, 2014

     67  
  

Consolidated Statements of Changes in Shareholders’ Equity—
Years Ended December  31, 2016, December 31, 2015, and December 31, 2014

     67  
  

Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows—
Years Ended December 31, 2016, December  31, 2015, and December 31, 2014

     68  
  

Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements

     69  

Item 9.

  

Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

     108  

Item 9A.

   Controls and Procedures      108  

Item 9B.

   Other Information      108  
Part III  

Item 10.

   Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance      109  

Item 11.

   Executive Compensation      109  

Item 12.

  

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

     109  

Item 13.

   Certain Relationships and Related Transactions and Director Independence      109  

Item 14.

   Principal Accountant Fees and Services      109  
Part IV  

Item 15.

   Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules      109  

Signatures

     110  

Exhibit Index

     115  


Table of Contents

Part I

 

Item 1. Business

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (“Berkshire,” “Company” or “Registrant”) is a holding company owning subsidiaries engaged in a number of diverse business activities. The most important of these are insurance businesses conducted on both a primary basis and a reinsurance basis, a freight rail transportation business and a group of utility and energy generation and distribution businesses. Berkshire also owns and operates a large number of other businesses engaged in a variety of activities, as identified herein. Berkshire is domiciled in the state of Delaware, and its corporate headquarters are located in Omaha, Nebraska.

Berkshire’s operating businesses are managed on an unusually decentralized basis. There are essentially no centralized or integrated business functions (such as sales, marketing, purchasing, legal or human resources) and there is minimal involvement by Berkshire’s corporate headquarters in the day-to-day business activities of the operating businesses. Berkshire’s corporate office senior management participates in and is ultimately responsible for significant capital allocation decisions, investment activities and the selection of the Chief Executive to head each of the operating businesses. It also is responsible for establishing and monitoring Berkshire’s corporate governance practices, including, but not limited to, communicating the appropriate “tone at the top” messages to its employees and associates, monitoring governance efforts, including those at the operating businesses, and participating in the resolution of governance-related issues as needed.

Berkshire and its consolidated subsidiaries employ approximately 367,700 people worldwide.

Insurance and Reinsurance Businesses

Berkshire’s insurance and reinsurance business activities are conducted through numerous domestic and foreign-based insurance entities. Berkshire’s insurance businesses provide insurance and reinsurance of property and casualty risks and also reinsure life, accident and health risks worldwide.

In direct insurance activities, the insurer assumes the risk of loss from persons or organizations that are directly subject to the risks. Such risks may relate to property, casualty (or liability), life, accident, health, financial or other perils that may arise from an insurable event. In reinsurance activities, the reinsurer assumes defined portions of risks that other direct insurers or reinsurers have assumed in their own insuring activities.

Reinsurance contracts are normally classified as treaty or facultative contracts. Treaty reinsurance refers to reinsurance coverage for all or a portion of a specified group or class of risks ceded by the direct insurer, while facultative reinsurance involves coverage of specific individual underlying risks. Reinsurance contracts are further classified as quota-share or excess. Under quota-share (proportional or pro-rata) reinsurance, the reinsurer shares proportionally in the original premiums and losses of the direct insurer or reinsurer. Excess (or non-proportional) reinsurance provides for the indemnification of the direct insurer or reinsurer for all or a portion of the loss in excess of an agreed upon amount or “retention.” Both quota-share and excess reinsurance contracts may provide for aggregate limits of indemnification.

Insurance and reinsurance are generally subject to regulatory oversight throughout the world. Except for regulatory considerations, there are virtually no barriers to entry into the insurance and reinsurance industry. Competitors may be domestic or foreign, as well as licensed or unlicensed. The number of competitors within the industry is not known. Insurers and reinsurers compete on the basis of reliability, financial strength and stability, financial ratings, underwriting consistency, service, business ethics, price, performance, capacity, policy terms and coverage conditions.

Insurers based in the United States (“U.S.”) are subject to regulation by their states of domicile and by those states in which they are licensed to write policies on an admitted basis. The primary focus of regulation is to assure that insurers are financially solvent and that policyholder interests are otherwise protected. States establish minimum capital levels for insurance companies and establish guidelines for permissible business and investment activities. States have the authority to suspend or revoke a company’s authority to do business as conditions warrant. States regulate the payment of dividends by insurance companies to their shareholders and other transactions with affiliates. Dividends, capital distributions and other transactions of extraordinary amounts are subject to prior regulatory approval.

Insurers may market, sell and service insurance policies in the states where they are licensed. These insurers are referred to as admitted insurers. Admitted insurers are generally required to obtain regulatory approval of their policy forms and premium rates. Non-admitted insurance markets have developed to provide insurance that is otherwise unavailable through admitted insurers. Non-admitted insurance, often referred to as “excess and surplus” lines, is procured by either state-licensed surplus lines brokers who place risks with insurers not licensed in that state or by the insured party’s direct procurement from non-admitted insurers. Non-admitted insurance is subject to considerably less regulation with respect to policy rates and forms. Reinsurers are normally not required to obtain regulatory approval of premium rates or reinsurance contracts.

 

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The insurance regulators of every state participate in the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (“NAIC”). The NAIC adopts forms, instructions and accounting procedures for use by U.S. insurers and reinsurers in preparing and filing annual statutory financial statements. However, an insurer’s state of domicile has ultimate authority over these matters. In addition to its activities relating to the annual statement, the NAIC develops or adopts statutory accounting principles, model laws, regulations and programs for use by its members. Such matters deal with regulatory oversight of solvency, risk management, compliance with financial regulation standards and risk-based capital reporting requirements.

Berkshire’s insurance companies maintain capital strength at exceptionally high levels. This strength differentiates Berkshire’s insurance companies from their competitors. Collectively, the aggregate statutory surplus of Berkshire’s U.S. based insurers was approximately $136 billion at December 31, 2016. Berkshire’s major insurance subsidiaries are rated AA+ by Standard & Poor’s and A++ (superior) by A.M. Best with respect to their financial condition and claims paying ability.

The Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002 established within the Department of the Treasury a Terrorism Insurance Program (“Program”) for commercial property and casualty insurers by providing federal reinsurance of insured terrorism losses. The Program currently extends to December 31, 2020 through other Acts, most recently the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2015 (the “2015 TRIA Reauthorization”). Hereinafter these Acts are collectively referred to as TRIA. Under TRIA, the Department of the Treasury is charged with certifying “acts of terrorism.” In 2017, coverage under TRIA occurs when the industry insured loss for certified events occurring during a calendar year exceeds $140 million. Under the 2015 TRIA Reauthorization, the level of insured losses for certified events occurring during a calendar year required to trigger coverage under TRIA will increase annually by $20 million per year until the level of insured losses required to trigger coverage reaches $200 million in 2020. To be eligible for federal reinsurance, insurers must make available insurance coverage for acts of terrorism, by providing policyholders with clear and conspicuous notice of the amount of premium that will be charged for this coverage and of the federal share of any insured losses resulting from any act of terrorism. Assumed reinsurance is specifically excluded from TRIA participation. TRIA currently also excludes certain forms of direct insurance (such as personal and commercial auto, burglary, theft, surety and certain professional liability lines). Reinsurers are not required to offer terrorism coverage and are not eligible for federal reinsurance of terrorism losses.

In the event of a certified act of terrorism, the federal government will reimburse insurers (conditioned on their satisfaction of policyholder notification requirements) for 83% of their insured losses in excess of an insurance group’s deductible. Under the 2015 TRIA Reauthorization, the federal government’s reimbursement obligation will be reduced annually by 1% per year until the level of reimbursement is reduced to 80% in 2020. Under the Program, the deductible is 20% of the aggregate direct subject earned premium for relevant commercial lines of business in the immediately preceding calendar year. The aggregate deductible in 2017 for Berkshire’s consolidated insurance and reinsurance businesses is expected to approximate $1.1 billion. There is also an aggregate limit of $100 billion on the amount of the federal government coverage for each TRIA year.

Regulation of the insurance industry outside of the United States is subject to the laws and regulations of each country in which an insurer has operations or writes premiums. Some jurisdictions impose comprehensive regulatory requirements on insurance businesses, such as in the United Kingdom, where insurers are subject to regulation by the Prudential Regulation Authority and the Financial Conduct Authority and in Germany where insurers are subject to regulation by the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin). Other jurisdictions may impose fewer requirements. In certain foreign countries, reinsurers are also required to be licensed by governmental authorities. These licenses may be subject to modification, suspension or revocation dependent on such factors as amount and types of insurance liabilities and minimum capital and solvency tests. The violation of regulatory requirements may result in fines, censures and/or criminal sanctions in various jurisdictions.

Berkshire’s insurance underwriting operations comprise the following sub-groups: (1) GEICO and its subsidiaries, (2) General Re and its subsidiaries, (3) Berkshire Hathaway Reinsurance Group and (4) Berkshire Hathaway Primary Group. Except for retroactive reinsurance and structured settlement and periodic payment annuity reinsurance products that generate significant amounts of up-front premiums along with estimated claims expected to be paid over very long periods of time (creating “float,” see Investments section below), Berkshire expects to achieve a net underwriting profit over time and to reject inadequately priced risks. Underwriting profit is defined as earned premiums less associated incurred losses, loss adjustment expenses and underwriting and policy acquisition expenses. Underwriting profit does not include investment income earned from investments. Berkshire’s insurance subsidiaries employ approximately 44,000 people. Additional information related to each of Berkshire’s four underwriting groups follows.

GEICO—GEICO is headquartered in Chevy Chase, Maryland and its insurance subsidiaries consist of: Government Employees Insurance Company, GEICO General Insurance Company, GEICO Indemnity Company, GEICO Casualty Company, GEICO Advantage Insurance Company, GEICO Choice Insurance Company, GEICO Secure Insurance Company, GEICO County Mutual Insurance Company and GEICO Marine Insurance Company. These companies primarily offer private

 

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passenger automobile insurance to individuals in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. In addition, GEICO insures motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, recreational vehicles, boats and small commercial fleets and acts as an agent for other insurers who offer homeowners, renters, boat, life and identity management insurance to individuals to provide insurance and financial services for buyers who desire insurance coverages other than those offered by GEICO. GEICO markets its policies primarily through direct response methods in which applications for insurance are submitted directly to the companies via the Internet or by telephone.

GEICO competes for private passenger auto insurance customers with other companies that sell directly to the customer as well as with companies that use agency sales forces. The automobile insurance business is highly competitive in the areas of price and service. Some insurance companies may exacerbate price competition by selling their products for a period of time at less than adequate rates. GEICO will not knowingly follow that strategy. GEICO competes for private passenger automobile insurance customers in the preferred, standard and non-standard risk markets with other companies that sell directly to the customer as well as with companies that use agency sales forces, including State Farm, Allstate (including Esurance), Progressive and USAA. As a result of an aggressive advertising campaign and competitive rates, voluntary policies-in-force have increased about 38% over the past five years. GEICO was the second largest private passenger auto insurer in the United States in terms of premium volume in 2016. According to most recently published A.M. Best data, the five largest automobile insurers had a combined market share in 2015 of approximately 54%, with GEICO’s market share being approximately 11.4%. Since the publication of that data, management believes that GEICO’s current market share has grown to approximately 12%. Seasonal variations in GEICO’s insurance business are not significant. However, extraordinary weather conditions or other factors may have a significant effect upon the frequency or severity of automobile claims.

Private passenger auto insurance is stringently regulated by state insurance departments. As a result, it is difficult for insurance companies to differentiate their products. Competition for private passenger automobile insurance, which is substantial, tends to focus on price and level of customer service provided. GEICO’s cost-efficient direct response marketing methods and emphasis on customer satisfaction enable it to offer competitive rates and value to its customers. GEICO primarily uses its own claims staff to manage and settle claims. The name and reputation of GEICO is a material asset and management protects it and other service marks through appropriate registrations.

General Re—General Re Corporation (“General Re”) is the holding company of General Reinsurance Corporation (“GRC”) and its subsidiaries and affiliates. GRC’s subsidiaries include General Reinsurance AG, (“GRAG”), a major international reinsurer based in Germany. General Re subsidiaries currently conduct business activities globally in 45 cities and provide insurance and reinsurance coverages throughout the world. General Re provides property/casualty insurance and reinsurance, life/health reinsurance and other reinsurance intermediary and risk management services, underwriting management and investment management services. General Re is one of the largest reinsurers in the world based on premium volume and shareholder capital.

Property/Casualty Insurance and Reinsurance

General Re’s property/casualty reinsurance business in North America is conducted through GRC, which is domiciled in Delaware and licensed in the District of Columbia and all states but Hawaii, where it is an accredited reinsurer. Property/casualty operations in North America are headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, and are also conducted through 13 branch offices in the U.S. and Canada. Reinsurance activities are marketed directly to clients without involving a broker or intermediary. In 2016, approximately 41% of net written premiums in North America related to casualty reinsurance coverages and 41% related to property reinsurance coverages.

General Re’s property/casualty business in North America also includes specialty insurers domiciled in Delaware. General Star is a specialty and surplus lines provider, underwriting a broad array of property, casualty and professional liability business through a select group of wholesale brokers, managing general underwriters and program administrators. Genesis is an alternative risk insurance provider, offering solutions for the unique needs of public entity, commercial and captive customers. In 2016, these specialty insurers represented approximately 18% of General Re’s North American property/casualty net written premiums.

General Re’s international property/casualty reinsurance business operations are conducted through internationally-based subsidiaries on a direct basis (without intermediaries) via General Reinsurance AG as well as several other General Re subsidiaries and branches in 18 countries. Coverages are written on both a quota-share and excess basis for multiple lines, including property, aviation and casualty. In 2016, international-based property/casualty operations principally wrote reinsurance on a direct basis in the form of treaties, with lesser amounts written on a facultative basis. International property/casualty business is also written through brokers, primarily via Faraday, a wholly-owned subsidiary. Faraday owns the managing agent of Syndicate 435 at Lloyd’s and provides capacity and participates in 100% of the results of Syndicate 435.

 

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Life/Health Reinsurance

General Re’s North American life/health business segments include life, disability, supplemental health, critical illness and long-term care. The international life/health business is segmented by geographic region and transacts business worldwide. The principal business segments include life, disability, critical illness, health and long-term care. The life/health business is marketed on a direct basis. In 2016, approximately 34% of life/health net premiums were written in the United States, 22% in Western Europe and the remaining 44% throughout the rest of the world.

Berkshire Hathaway Reinsurance Group—Berkshire Hathaway Reinsurance Group (“BHRG”) operations are based in Stamford, Connecticut. Business activities are conducted through numerous subsidiaries, led by National Indemnity Company (“NICO”) and Columbia Insurance Company (“Columbia”). BHRG provides principally excess and quota-share reinsurance to other property and casualty insurers and reinsurers. BHRG also offers life reinsurance and annuity contracts through Berkshire Hathaway Life Insurance Company of Nebraska (“BHLN”).

The type and volume of insurance and reinsurance business written by BHRG is dependent on current market conditions, including prevailing premium rates and coverage terms. The level of BHRG’s underwriting activities often fluctuates significantly from year to year depending on the perceived level of price adequacy in specific insurance and reinsurance markets as well as from the timing of particularly large reinsurance transactions.

BHRG underwrites traditional non-catastrophe property and casualty insurance and reinsurance, catastrophe excess-of-loss treaty and facultative reinsurance, and individual primary insurance policies on an excess-of-loss basis for primarily large or otherwise unusual discrete risks, referred to as “individual risk.” BHRG periodically participates in underwriting placements with major brokers in the London Market through a wholly-owned subsidiary based in Great Britain. BHRG’s business is written through intermediary brokers or directly with the insured or reinsured.

Effective July 1, 2015, NICO entered into a 10-year, 20% quota-share reinsurance agreement with Insurance Australia Group Limited (“IAG”). IAG is a large insurance group that currently writes multiple lines of business in Australia, New Zealand and other Asia Pacific countries.

BHRG periodically assumes risks under retroactive reinsurance contracts. Retroactive reinsurance contracts afford protection to ceding companies against the adverse development of claims arising from events that have already occurred and that are insured under policies issued in prior years. Coverage under such contracts is provided on an excess basis or for losses payable immediately after the inception of the contract. Coverage provided is normally subject to large aggregate limits of indemnification. Significant amounts of asbestos, environmental and latent injury claims may arise under these contracts.

In BHRG’s retroactive reinsurance business, the concept of time-value-of-money is an important element in establishing prices and contract terms, since the payment of losses under the insurance contracts are often expected to occur over long time periods. Losses payable under these policies are normally expected to exceed premiums and therefore, produce underwriting losses. This business is accepted, in part, because of the large amounts of policyholder funds (“float”) generated for investment, the economic benefit of which will be reflected through investment results in future periods.

In 2014, NICO entered into a reinsurance contract with Liberty Mutual Insurance Company (“LMIC”). Under the agreement, NICO reinsures substantially all of LMIC’s unpaid losses and allocated loss adjustment expense liabilities related to (a) asbestos and environmental claims from policies incepting prior to 2005, and (b) workers’ compensation claims occurrences arising prior to January 1, 2014, subject to an aggregate retention of approximately $12.5 billion and subject to an aggregate limit of $6.5 billion.

In January 2017, NICO entered into a retroactive reinsurance agreement with various subsidiaries of American International Group, Inc. (collectively, “AIG”). Under the agreement, NICO agreed to indemnify AIG for 80% of up to $25 billion, excess of $25 billion retained by AIG, of losses and allocated loss adjustment expenses with respect to certain commercial insurance loss events occurring in years prior to 2016 for a premium of about $10 billion.

BHLN writes periodic payment annuity insurance policies and reinsures existing annuity-like obligations. Under these policies, it receives upfront premiums and makes a stream of annuity payments in the future and payment streams often extend for decades. Similar to retroactive reinsurance contracts, time-value-of money concepts are an important factor in establishing such premiums and underwriting losses are expected from the periodic accretion of time-value discounted liabilities. BHLN also writes reinsurance covering various forms of traditional life insurance. BHLN and its affiliates have also periodically reinsured certain guaranteed minimum death, income, and similar benefit coverages on closed-blocks of variable annuity reinsurance contracts.

 

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Berkshire Hathaway Primary Group—The Berkshire Hathaway Primary Group (“BH Primary”) is a collection of independently managed primary insurance operations that provide a wide variety of insurance coverages to policyholders located principally in the United States. These various operations are discussed below.

NICO and certain affiliates (“NICO Primary”) underwrite motor vehicle and general liability insurance to commercial enterprises on both an admitted and excess and surplus basis. This business is written nationwide primarily through insurance agents and brokers and is based in Omaha, Nebraska.

The “Berkshire Hathaway Homestate Companies” (“BHHC”) is a group of insurers offering standalone workers’ compensation, commercial auto and commercial property coverages. BHHC has developed a national reach, with the ability to provide first-dollar and small to large deductible workers’ compensation coverage to employers in all states, except those where coverage is available only through state operated workers’ compensation funds. The volume of workers’ compensation business written in recent years has grown significantly. BHHC serves a diverse client base. BHHC’s business is generated primarily through independent agents and brokers.

MedPro Group (“MedPro”) is a national leader in offering customized healthcare liability insurance, claims, patient safety and risk solutions to physicians, surgeons, dentists and other healthcare professionals, as well as hospitals, senior care and other healthcare facilities. MedPro has provided insurance coverage to protect healthcare providers against losses since 1899. Its insurance policies are distributed primarily through a nationwide network of appointed agents and brokers. MedPro recently began offering coverage options to healthcare providers in the United Kingdom, France and Singapore, as well as reinsurance options related to student health insurance programs.

U.S. Investment Corporation (“USIC”) and its subsidiaries are specialty insurers that underwrite commercial, professional and personal lines of insurance on an admitted and excess and surplus basis. Policies are marketed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia through wholesale and retail insurance agents. USIC companies underwrite and market a wide variety of specialty insurance products.

Applied Underwriters, Inc. (“Applied”) is a leading provider of payroll and insurance services to small and mid-sized employers. Applied, through its subsidiaries principally markets a product that bundles workers’ compensation and other employment related insurance coverages and business services into a seamless package that is designed to reduce the risks and remove the burden of administrative and regulatory requirements faced by small to mid-sized employers. Applied also markets a workers’ compensation product with a profit sharing component targeted to medium-sized employers.

WestGUARD Insurance Company and its subsidiaries (collectively, the Berkshire Hathaway GUARD Insurance Companies) provides commercial property and casualty insurance coverage to small and mid-sized businesses and is based in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Central States Indemnity Company of Omaha, based in Omaha, Nebraska, primarily writes Medicare Supplement insurance and credit insurance.

Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance (“BH Specialty”) was formed in April 2013. BH Specialty provides primary and excess commercial property, casualty, healthcare professional liability, executive and professional lines, surety and travel insurance and other insurance. BH Specialty writes business on both an excess and surplus lines basis and an admitted basis in the U.S., and on a locally admitted basis outside the U.S. BH Specialty is based in Boston, Massachusetts, with regional offices currently in several cities in the U. S. and international offices in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Canada, Germany, United Kingdom and Macau. BH Specialty currently intends to further expand its operations. BH Specialty writes business through wholesale and retail insurance brokers, as well as managing general agents.

Property and casualty loss liabilities

Berkshire’s property and casualty insurance companies establish liabilities for estimated unpaid losses and loss adjustment expenses with respect to claims occurring on or before the balance sheet date. Such estimates include provisions for reported claims or case estimates, provisions for incurred-but-not-reported claims and legal and administrative costs to settle claims. The estimates of unpaid losses and amounts recoverable under reinsurance are established and continually reviewed by using a variety of actuarial, statistical and analytical techniques. Reference is made to Note 14 to the Consolidated Financial Statements included in Item 8 and “Critical Accounting Policies,” included in Item 7 of this Report.

Investments—Invested assets of insurance businesses derive from shareholder capital as well as funds provided from policyholders through insurance and reinsurance business (“float”). Float is the approximate amount of net policyholder funds generated through underwriting activities that is available for investment. The major components of float are unpaid losses and

 

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loss adjustment expenses, life, annuity and health benefit liabilities, unearned premiums and other policyholder liabilities less premium and reinsurance receivables, deferred policy acquisition costs and deferred charges on reinsurance contracts. On a consolidated basis, float has grown from approximately $70 billion at the end of 2011 to approximately $91 billion at the end of 2016, primarily through internal growth. BHRG and General Re accounted for approximately 69% of the consolidated float as of December 31, 2016. Over the past five years, Berkshire’s cost of float was negative, as insurance businesses produced net underwriting gains.

Investments of insurance subsidiaries include a very large portfolio of publicly-traded equity securities, which are concentrated in relatively few issuers, as well as fixed maturity securities and cash and short-term investments. Investment portfolios are primarily managed by Berkshire’s corporate headquarters. Generally, there are no targeted investment allocation rates established by management with respect to investment activities. However, investment portfolios have historically included a much greater proportion of equity investments than is customary in the insurance industry.

Railroad Business—Burlington Northern Santa Fe

Burlington Northern Santa Fe, LLC (“BNSF”) is based in Fort Worth, Texas, and through BNSF Railway Company operates one of the largest railroad systems in North America. BNSF had approximately 42,000 employees at the end of 2016.

In serving the Midwest, Pacific Northwest, Western, Southwestern and Southeastern regions and ports of the United States, BNSF transports a range of products and commodities derived from manufacturing, agricultural and natural resource industries. Over half of freight revenues are covered by contractual agreements of varying durations, while the balance is subject to common carrier published prices or quotations offered by BNSF. BNSF’s financial performance is influenced by, among other things, general and industry economic conditions at the international, national and regional levels. BNSF’s primary routes, including trackage rights, allow it to access major cities and ports in the western and southern United States as well as parts of Canada and Mexico. In addition to major cities and ports, BNSF efficiently serves many smaller markets by working closely with approximately 200 shortline railroads. BNSF has also entered into marketing agreements with other rail carriers, expanding the marketing reach for each railroad and their customers. For the year ending December 31, 2016, approximately 35% of freight revenues were derived from consumer products, 25% from industrial products, 22% from agricultural products and 18% from coal.

Regulatory Matters

BNSF is subject to federal, state and local laws and regulations generally applicable to all of its businesses. Rail operations are subject to the regulatory jurisdiction of the Surface Transportation Board (“STB”) of the United States Department of Transportation (“DOT”), the Federal Railroad Administration of the DOT, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”), as well as other federal and state regulatory agencies and Canadian regulatory agencies for operations in Canada. The STB has jurisdiction over disputes and complaints involving certain rates, routes and services, the sale or abandonment of rail lines, applications for line extensions and construction, and the merger with or acquisition of control of rail common carriers. The outcome of STB proceedings can affect the profitability of BNSF’s business.

The DOT and OSHA have jurisdiction under several federal statutes over a number of safety and health aspects of rail operations, including the transportation of hazardous materials. State agencies regulate some aspects of rail operations with respect to health and safety in areas not otherwise preempted by federal law. BNSF Railway is required to transport these commodities to the extent of its common carrier obligation.

Environmental Matters

BNSF’s rail operations, as well as those of its competitors, are also subject to extensive federal, state and local environmental regulation covering discharges to water, air emissions, toxic substances and the generation, handling, storage, transportation and disposal of waste and hazardous materials. This regulation has the effect of increasing the cost and liabilities associated with rail operations. Environmental risks are also inherent in rail operations, which frequently involve transporting chemicals and other hazardous materials.

Many of BNSF’s land holdings are and have been used for industrial or transportation-related purposes or leased to commercial or industrial companies whose activities may have resulted in discharges onto the property. As a result, BNSF is now subject to, and will from time to time continue to be subject to, environmental cleanup and enforcement actions. In particular, the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (“CERCLA”), also known as

 

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the Superfund law, generally imposes joint and several liabilities for the cleanup and enforcement costs on current and former owners and operators of a site, without regard to fault or the legality of the original conduct. Accordingly, BNSF may be responsible under CERCLA and other federal and state statutes for all or part of the costs to clean up sites at which certain substances may have been released by BNSF, its current lessees, former owners or lessees of properties, or other third parties. BNSF may also be subject to claims by third parties for investigation, cleanup, restoration or other environmental costs under environmental statutes or common law with respect to properties they own that have been impacted by BNSF operations.

Competition

The business environment in which BNSF operates is highly competitive. Depending on the specific market, deregulated motor carriers and other railroads, as well as river barges, ships and pipelines in certain markets, may exert pressure on price and service levels. The presence of advanced, high service truck lines with expedited delivery, subsidized infrastructure and minimal empty mileage continues to affect the market for non-bulk, time-sensitive freight. The potential expansion of longer combination vehicles could further encroach upon markets traditionally served by railroads. In order to remain competitive, BNSF and other railroads seek to develop and implement operating efficiencies to improve productivity.

As railroads streamline, rationalize and otherwise enhance their franchises, competition among rail carriers intensifies. BNSF’s primary rail competitor in the Western region of the United States is the Union Pacific Railroad Company. Other Class I railroads and numerous regional railroads and motor carriers also operate in parts of the same territories served by BNSF. Based on weekly reporting by the Association of American Railroads, BNSF’s share of the western United States rail traffic in 2016 was approximately 50.1%.

Utilities and Energy Businesses—Berkshire Hathaway Energy

Berkshire currently owns approximately 90% of the outstanding common stock of Berkshire Hathaway Energy Company (or “BHE”). BHE is a global energy company with subsidiaries that generate, transmit, store, distribute and supply energy. BHE’s businesses are managed as separate operating units. BHE’s domestic regulated energy interests are comprised of four regulated utility companies serving approximately 4.7 million retail customers, two interstate natural gas pipeline companies with approximately 16,400 miles of pipeline and a design capacity of approximately 7.9 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day and ownership interests in electricity transmission businesses. BHE’s Great Britain electricity distribution subsidiaries serve about 3.9 million electricity end-users and its electricity transmission-only business in Alberta, Canada serves approximately 85% of Alberta, Canada’s population. BHE’s interests also include a diversified portfolio of independent power projects, the second-largest residential real estate brokerage firm in the United States, and one of the largest residential real estate brokerage franchise networks in the United States. BHE employs approximately 21,000 people in connection with its various operations.

General Matters

PacifiCorp is a regulated electric utility company headquartered in Oregon, serving electric customers in portions of Utah, Oregon, Wyoming, Washington, Idaho and California. The combined service territory’s diverse regional economy ranges from rural, agricultural and mining areas to urban, manufacturing and government service centers. No single segment of the economy dominates the combined service territory, which helps mitigate PacifiCorp’s exposure to economic fluctuations. In addition to retail sales, PacifiCorp sells electricity on a wholesale basis.

MidAmerican Energy Company (“MEC”) is a regulated electric and natural gas utility company headquartered in Iowa, serving electric and natural gas customers primarily in Iowa and also in portions of Illinois, South Dakota and Nebraska. MEC has a diverse customer base consisting of urban and rural residential customers and a variety of commercial and industrial customers. In addition to retail sales and natural gas transportation, MEC sells electricity principally to markets operated by regional transmission organizations and natural gas on a wholesale basis.

NV Energy, Inc. (“NV Energy”), acquired by BHE on December 19, 2013, is an energy holding company headquartered in Nevada, primarily consisting of two regulated utility subsidiaries, Nevada Power Company (“Nevada Power”) and Sierra Pacific Power Company (“Sierra Pacific”) (collectively, the “Nevada Utilities”). Nevada Power serves electric customers in southern Nevada and Sierra Pacific serves electric and natural gas customers in northern Nevada. The Nevada Utilities’ combined service territory’s economy includes gaming, mining, recreation, warehousing, manufacturing and governmental services. In addition to retail sales and natural gas transportation, the Nevada Utilities sell electricity and natural gas on a wholesale basis.

As vertically integrated utilities, BHE’s domestic utilities own approximately 27,600 net megawatts of generation capacity in operation and under construction. There are seasonal variations in these businesses that are principally related to the use of

 

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electricity for air conditioning and natural gas for heating. Typically, regulated electric revenues are higher in the summer months, while regulated natural gas revenues are higher in the winter months.

The Great Britain utilities consist of Northern Powergrid (Northeast) Limited and Northern Powergrid (Yorkshire) plc, which own a substantial electricity distribution network that delivers electricity to end-users in northeast England in an area covering approximately 10,000 square miles. The distribution companies primarily charge supply companies regulated tariffs for the use of their distribution systems.

BHE acquired AltaLink L.P. (“AltaLink”) on December 1, 2014. AltaLink is a regulated electric transmission-only utility company headquartered in Calgary, Alberta. AltaLink connects generation plants to major load centers, cities and large industrial plants throughout its 87,000 square mile service territory. AltaLink receives all of its regulated transmission tariffs from the Alberta Electric System Operator (“AESO”) based on tariffs approved by the Alberta Utilities Commission (“AUC”).

The natural gas pipelines consist of Northern Natural Gas Company (“Northern Natural”) and Kern River Gas Transmission Company (“Kern River”). Northern Natural, based in Nebraska, owns the largest interstate natural gas pipeline system in the United States, as measured by pipeline miles, reaching from west Texas to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Northern Natural’s pipeline system consists of approximately 14,700 miles of natural gas pipelines. Northern Natural’s extensive pipeline system, which is interconnected with many interstate and intrastate pipelines in the national grid system, has access to supplies from multiple major supply basins and provides transportation services to utilities and numerous other customers. Northern Natural also operates three underground natural gas storage facilities and two liquefied natural gas storage peaking units. Northern Natural’s pipeline system experiences significant seasonal swings in demand and revenue, with the highest demand typically occurring during the months of November through March.

Kern River, based in Utah, owns an interstate natural gas pipeline system that consists of approximately 1,700 miles and extends from supply areas in the Rocky Mountains to consuming markets in Utah, Nevada and California. Kern River transports natural gas for electric and natural gas distribution utilities, major oil and natural gas companies or affiliates of such companies, electric generating companies, energy marketing and trading companies, and financial institutions.

BHE Renewables is based in Iowa and owns interests in independent power projects having approximately 4,000 net megawatts of generation capacity that are in service or under construction in California, Illinois, Nebraska, Texas, New York, Arizona, Minnesota, Kansas, Hawaii and the Philippines. These independent power projects sell power generated primarily from solar, wind, geothermal and hydro sources under long-term contracts.

Regulatory Matters

PacifiCorp, MEC and the Nevada Utilities are subject to comprehensive regulation by various federal, state and local agencies. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) is an independent agency with broad authority to implement provisions of the Federal Power Act, the Natural Gas Act, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and other federal statutes. The FERC regulates rates for wholesale sales of electricity; transmission of electricity, including pricing and regional planning for the expansion of transmission systems; electric system reliability; utility holding companies; accounting and records retention; securities issuances; construction and operation of hydroelectric facilities; and other matters. The FERC also has the enforcement authority to assess civil penalties of up to $1.2 million per day per violation of rules, regulations and orders issued under the Federal Power Act. MEC is also subject to regulation by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission pursuant to the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended, with respect to its 25% ownership of the Quad Cities Nuclear Station.

With certain limited exceptions, BHE’s domestic utilities have an exclusive right to serve retail customers within their service territories and, in turn, have an obligation to provide service to those customers. In some jurisdictions, certain classes of customers may choose to purchase all or a portion of their energy from alternative energy suppliers, and in some jurisdictions retail customers can generate all or a portion of their own energy. Historically, state regulatory commissions have established retail electric and natural gas rates on a cost-of-service basis, which are designed to allow a utility an opportunity to recover what each state regulatory commission deems to be the utility’s reasonable costs of providing services, including a fair opportunity to earn a reasonable return on its investments based on its cost of debt and equity. The retail electric rates of PacifiCorp, MEC and the Nevada Utilities are generally based on the cost of providing traditional bundled services, including generation, transmission and distribution services.

Northern Powergrid (Northeast) and Northern Powergrid (Yorkshire) each charge fees for the use of their distribution systems that are controlled by a formula prescribed by the British electricity regulatory body, the Gas and Electricity Markets Authority. The current eight-year price control period runs from April 1, 2015 through March 31, 2023.

 

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AltaLink is regulated by the AUC, pursuant to the Electric Utilities Act (Alberta), the Public Utilities Act (Alberta), the Alberta Utilities Commission Act (Alberta) and the Hydro and Electric Energy Act (Alberta). The AUC is an independent quasi-judicial agency with broad authority that may impact many of AltaLink’s activities, including its tariffs, rates, construction, operations and financing. Under the Electric Utilities Act, AltaLink prepares and files applications with the AUC for approval of tariffs to be paid by the AESO for the use of its transmission facilities, and the terms and conditions governing the use of those facilities. The AESO is the independent system operator in Alberta, Canada that oversees Alberta’s integrated electrical system (“AIES”) and wholesale electricity market. The AESO is responsible for directing the safe, reliable and economic operation of the AIES, including long-term transmission system planning.

The natural gas pipelines are subject to regulation by various federal, state and local agencies. The natural gas pipeline and storage operations of Northern Natural and Kern River are regulated by the FERC pursuant to the Natural Gas Act and the Natural Gas Policy Act of 1978. Under this authority, the FERC regulates, among other items, (a) rates, charges, terms and conditions of service and (b) the construction and operation of interstate pipelines, storage and related facilities, including the extension, expansion or abandonment of such facilities. Interstate natural gas pipeline companies are also subject to regulations administrated by the Office of Pipeline Safety within the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, an agency within the DOT. Federal pipeline safety regulations are issued pursuant to the Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act of 1968, as amended, which establishes safety requirements in the design, construction, operation and maintenance of interstate natural gas pipeline facilities.

Environmental Matters

BHE and its energy businesses are subject to federal, state, local and foreign laws and regulations regarding air and water quality, renewable portfolio standards, emissions performance standards, climate change, coal combustion byproduct disposal, hazardous and solid waste disposal, protected species and other environmental matters that have the potential to impact current and future operations. In addition to imposing continuing compliance obligations, these laws and regulations, such as the Federal Clean Air Act, provide regulators with the authority to levy substantial penalties for noncompliance, including fines, injunctive relief and other sanctions.

The Federal Clean Air Act, as well as state laws and regulations impacting air emissions, provides a framework for protecting and improving the nation’s air quality and controlling sources of air emissions. These laws and regulations continue to be promulgated and implemented and will impact the operation of BHE’s generating facilities and require them to reduce emissions at those facilities to comply with the requirements.

Renewable portfolio standards have been established by certain state governments and generally require electricity providers to obtain a minimum percentage of their power from renewable energy resources by a certain date. Utah, Oregon, Washington, California, Iowa and Nevada have adopted renewable portfolio standards. In addition, the potential adoption of state or federal clean energy standards, which include low-carbon, non-carbon and renewable electricity generating resources, may also impact electricity generators and natural gas providers.

In December 2015, an international agreement was negotiated by 195 nations to create a universal framework for coordinated action on climate change in what is referred to as the Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement reaffirms the goal of limiting global temperature increase well below 2 degrees Celsius, while urging efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius; establishes commitments by all parties to make nationally determined contributions and pursue domestic measures aimed at achieving the commitments; commits all countries to submit emissions inventories and report regularly on their emissions and progress made in implementing and achieving their nationally determined commitments; and commits all countries to submit new commitments every five years, with the expectation that the commitments will get more aggressive. In the context of the Paris Agreement, the United States agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 26% to 28% by 2025 from 2005 levels. The Paris Agreement formally entered into force November 4, 2016.

Supporting the United States’ commitment under the Paris Agreement is the Clean Power Plan, finalized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) in August 2015. The Clean Power Plan established the Best System of Emission Reduction for fossil-fueled power plants to include: (a) heat rate improvements; (b) increased utilization of existing combined-cycle natural gas-fueled generating facilities; and (c) increased deployment of new and incremental non-carbon generation placed in service after 2012. Applying the Best System of Emission Reduction, the EPA established uniform subcategory specific emission performance rates of 771 pounds per megawatt hour for natural gas combined cycle units and 1,305 pounds per megawatt hour for coal-fueled generating units and utilized these emission rates to establish the applicable state-by-state emission rates. The final Clean Power Plan compliance obligations begin in 2022, and extend through 2030. When fully

 

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implemented the rule would achieve an overall reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from existing fossil-fueled electric generating units of 32% below 2005 levels. The final Clean Power Plan provides states the option to implement rate-based plans that limit the pounds per megawatt hour their effected generating units can emit or mass-based plans that limit the total tons of emissions from affected sources as well as to allow their affected units to engage in emission trading in either a mass- or rate-based plan. States were required under the final rule to submit initial plans to the EPA by September 6, 2016. However, on February 9, 2016, the United States Supreme Court ordered that the EPA’s emission guidelines for existing sources be stayed pending the disposition of the challenges to the rule in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and any action on a writ of certiorari before the United States Supreme Court. The case has been fully briefed and oral argument was held before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on September 27, 2016; the court has not yet issued its decision. The full impacts of the final rule or the federal plan on BHE and its energy subsidiaries cannot be determined until the outcome of the pending litigation and subsequent appeals, the outcome of any issues should the case be remanded for further action by the EPA, the development and implementation of state plans, and finalization of the federal plan.

BHE continues to take actions to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. For example, as of December 31, 2016, BHE has invested $19 billion in solar, wind, geothermal and biomass generation.

Non-Energy Businesses

BHE also owns HomeServices of America, Inc. (“HomeServices”), the second-largest residential real estate brokerage firm in the United States. In addition to providing traditional residential real estate brokerage services, HomeServices offers other integrated real estate services, including mortgage originations and mortgage banking, title and closing services, property and casualty insurance, home warranties, relocation services and other home-related services. It operates under 38 brand names with over 29,000 agents in nearly 540 brokerage offices in 28 states.

In October 2012, HomeServices acquired a 66.7% interest in one of the largest residential real estate brokerage franchise networks in the United States, which offers and sells independently owned and operated residential real estate brokerage franchises. HomeServices’ franchise network currently includes over 375 franchisees in over 1,500 brokerage offices in 47 states with over 46,000 agents under three brand names. In exchange for certain fees, HomeServices provides the right to use the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, Prudential or Real Living brand names and other related service marks, as well as providing orientation programs, training and consultation services, advertising programs and other services.

HomeServices’ principal sources of revenue are dependent on residential real estate sales, which are generally higher in the second and third quarters of each year. This business is highly competitive and subject to the general real estate market conditions.

Manufacturing Businesses

Berkshire’s numerous and diverse manufacturing businesses are grouped into three categories: (1) industrial products, (2) building products and (3) consumer products. Berkshire’s industrial products businesses manufacture specialty chemicals, metal cutting tools, components for aerospace and power generation applications and a variety of other products primarily for industrial use. The building products group produces flooring products, insulation, roofing and engineered products, building and engineered components, paint and coatings and bricks and masonry products that are primarily used in building and construction applications. The consumer products group manufactures recreational vehicles, alkaline batteries, various apparel products, jewelry and custom picture framing products. Information concerning these activities follows.

Industrial products

Lubrizol Corporation

The Lubrizol Corporation (“Lubrizol”) is a specialty chemical company that produces and supplies technologies for the global transportation, industrial, oilfield and consumer markets. Lubrizol currently operates in two business sectors: (1) Lubrizol Additives, which includes engine additives, driveline additives and industrial specialties products; and (2) Lubrizol Advanced Materials, which includes personal and home care, engineered polymers, performance coatings, and life science solutions.

Lubrizol’s products are used in a broad range of applications including engine oils, transmission fluids, gear oils, specialty driveline lubricants, fuel additives, refineries and oilfields, pipelines, metalworking fluids, compressor lubricants, greases for transportation and industrial applications, over-the-counter pharmaceutical products, performance coatings, personal care products, sporting goods and plumbing and fire sprinkler systems. Lubrizol is an industry leader in many of the markets in

 

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which it competes. Its principal lubricant additives competitors are Infineum International Ltd., Chevron Oronite Company and Afton Chemical Corporation. The advanced materials industry is highly fragmented with a variety of competitors in each product line. Principal oilfield chemicals competitors include Nalco Energy Services, Baker Hughes Inc., Schlumberger Ltd., and Halliburton Company.

From a base of approximately 3,240 patents, Lubrizol uses its technological leadership position in product development and formulation expertise to improve the quality, value and performance of its products, as well as to help minimize the environmental impact of those products. Lubrizol uses many specialty and commodity chemical raw materials in its manufacturing processes and uses base oil in processing and blending additives. Raw materials are primarily feedstocks derived from petroleum and petrochemicals and, generally, are obtainable from several sources. The materials that Lubrizol chooses to purchase from a single source typically are subject to long-term supply contracts to ensure supply reliability. Lubrizol operates facilities in 32 countries (including production facilities in 19 countries and laboratories in 15 countries).

Lubrizol markets its products worldwide through a direct sales organization and sales agents and distributors. Lubrizol’s customers principally consist of major global and regional oil companies and industrial and consumer products companies that are located in more than 120 countries. Some of its largest customers also may be suppliers. In 2016, no single customer accounted for more than 10% of Lubrizol’s consolidated revenues. Lubrizol continues to implement a multi-year phased investment plan to upgrade operations, ensure compliance with health, safety and environmental requirements and increase global manufacturing capacity.

Lubrizol is subject to foreign, federal, state and local laws to protect the environment and limit manufacturing waste and emissions. The company believes that its policies, practices and procedures are designed to limit the risk of environmental damage and consequent financial liability. Nevertheless, the operation of manufacturing plants entails ongoing environmental risks, and significant costs or liabilities could be incurred in the future.

IMC International Metalworking Companies

Berkshire acquired an 80% interest in IMC International Metalworking Companies B.V. (“IMC”) in 2006. On April 29, 2013, Berkshire acquired the remaining 20% noncontrolling interests of IMC. Through its subsidiaries, IMC is one of the world’s three largest multinational manufacturers of consumable precision carbide metal cutting tools for applications in a broad range of industrial end markets. IMC’s principal brand names include ISCAR®, TaeguTec®, Ingersoll®, Tungaloy®, Unitac®, UOP®, It.te.di®, Tool—Flo® and Outiltec®. IMC’s manufacturing facilities are located mainly in Israel, United States, Germany, Italy, France, Switzerland, South Korea, China, India, Japan and Brazil.

IMC has five primary product lines: milling tools, gripping tools, turning/thread tools, drilling tools and tooling. The main products are split within each product line between consumable cemented tungsten carbide inserts and steel tool holders. Inserts comprise the vast majority of sales and earnings. Metal cutting inserts are used by industrial manufacturers to cut metals and are consumed during their use in cutting applications. IMC manufactures hundreds of types of highly engineered inserts within each product line that are tailored to maximize productivity and meet the technical requirements of customers. IMC’s staff of scientists and engineers continuously develop and innovate products that address its end user’s needs and requirements.

IMC’s global sales and marketing network has representatives in virtually every major manufacturing center around the world staffed with highly skilled engineers and technical personnel. IMC’s customer base is very diverse, with its primary customers being large, multinational businesses in the automotive, aerospace, engineering and machinery industries. IMC operates a regional central warehouse system with locations in Israel, United States, Belgium, Korea, Japan and Brazil. Additional small quantities of products are maintained at local IMC offices in order to provide on-time customer support and inventory management.

IMC competes in the metal cutting tools segment of the global metalworking tools market. The segment includes hundreds of participants who range from small, private manufacturers of specialized products for niche applications and markets to larger, global multinational businesses (such as Sandvik and Kennametal, Inc.) with a wide assortment of products and extensive distribution networks. Other manufacturing companies such as Kyocera, Mitsubishi, Sumitomo and Korloy also play a significant role in the cutting tool market.

 

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Precision Castparts

Berkshire acquired Precision Castparts Corp. (“PCC”) on January 29, 2016. PCC manufactures complex metal components and products, provides high-quality investment castings, forgings, fasteners/fastener systems and aerostructures for critical aerospace and power and energy applications. PCC also provides seamless pipe for coal-fired, industrial gas turbine (“IGT”) and nuclear power plants; downhole casing, clad pipe, fittings and various mill forms in a variety of nickel and steel alloys for severe-service oil and gas environments; investment castings and forgings for general industrial, armament, medical and other applications; nickel and titanium alloys in all standard mill forms from large ingots and billets to plate, foil, sheet, strip, tubing, bar, rod, extruded shapes, rod-in-coil, wire and welding consumables, as well as cobalt alloys, for the aerospace, chemical processing, oil and gas, pollution control and other industries; revert management solutions; fasteners for automotive and general industrial markets; specialty alloys for the investment casting and forging industries; heat treating and destructive testing services for the investment cast products and forging industries; refiner plates, screen cylinders and other products for the pulp and paper industry; grinder pumps and affiliated components for low-pressure sewer systems; critical auxiliary equipment and gas monitoring systems for the power generation industry; and metalworking tools for the fastener market and other applications.

Investment casting technology involves a multi-step process that uses ceramic molds in the manufacture of metal components with more complex shapes, closer tolerances and finer surface finishes than parts manufactured using other casting methods. PCC uses this process to manufacture products for aircraft engines, IGT and other aeroderivative engines, airframes, medical implants, armament, unmanned aerial vehicles and other industrial applications. PCC also manufactures high temperature carbon and ceramic composite components, including ceramic matrix composites, for use in next-generation aerospace engines.

PCC uses forging processes to manufacture components for the aerospace and power generation markets, including seamless pipe for coal-fired, industrial gas turbine and nuclear power plants, and downhole casings and clad pipe for severe service oil and gas markets. PCC manufactures high-performance, nickel-based alloys used to produce forged components for aerospace and non-aerospace applications in such markets as oil and gas, chemical processing and pollution control. The titanium products are used to manufacture components for the commercial and military aerospace, power generation, energy, and industrial end markets.

PCC is also a leading developer and manufacturer of highly engineered fasteners, fastener systems, aerostructures and precision components, primarily for critical aerospace applications. These products are produced for the aerospace and power and energy markets, as well as for construction, automotive, heavy truck farm machinery, mining and construction equipment, shipbuilding, machine tools, medical equipment, appliances and recreation markets.

The majority of sales to customers are individual purchase orders generated from long-term agreements. Most orders are subject to termination by the customer upon payment of the cost of work in process, plus a related profit factor. PCC typically does not experience significant order cancellations, although periodically it receives requests for delays in delivery schedules.

PCC is subject to substantial competition in all of its markets. Components and similar products may be produced by competitors using either the same types of manufacturing processes or other forms of manufacturing. Although PCC believes its manufacturing processes, technology and experience provide advantages to its customers, such as high quality, competitive prices and physical properties that often meet more stringent demands, alternative forms of manufacturing can be used to produce many of the same components and products. Despite intense competition, PCC is a leading supplier in most of its principal markets. Several factors, including long-standing customer relationships, technical expertise, state-of-the-art facilities and dedicated employees, aid PCC in maintaining competitive advantages.

A number of raw materials in its products, including certain metals such as nickel, titanium, cobalt, tantalum and molybdenum, are found in only a few parts of the world. These metals are required for the alloys used in manufactured products. The availability and costs of these metals may be influenced by private or governmental cartels, changes in world politics, labor relations between the metal producers and their work forces, and/or unstable governments in exporting nations and inflation.

Marmon Holdings

Berkshire currently owns 99.75% of Marmon Holdings, Inc. (“Marmon”), a holding company comprised of four autonomous companies consisting of fifteen diverse business sectors and approximately 175 independent manufacturing and service businesses. Marmon operates approximately 370 manufacturing, distribution and service facilities, which are located

 

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primarily in the United States, as well as in 22 other countries worldwide. Marmon’s transportation equipment manufacturing, repair and leasing businesses (UTLX Company) discussed in the Finance and Financial Products businesses section of this Item. Marmon’s other diversified manufacturing and service operations are referred to as “Marmon manufacturing” and discussed further below.

Marmon manufacturing includes Marmon Engineered Components Company (“Engineered Components”), Marmon Food, Beverage & Water Technologies Company (“Food, Beverage & Water”), Marmon Retail & Highway Technologies Company (“Retail & Highway”) and the Engineered Wire & Cable operations within Marmon Energy Services Company (“Energy Services”). The Engineered Wire & Cable sector supplies electrical and electronic wire and cable for energy related markets and other industries.

Engineered Components includes: Metals Distribution/Services and Wire Products—provides specialty metal pipe, tubing, beams and related value-added services to markets such as construction, aerospace, industrial, and many others, and electrical building wire for residential, commercial and industrial buildings; Tubing & Fitting—supplies copper tube for the plumbing, HVAC and refrigeration markets, and aluminum tubing, brass fittings and valves for many commercial and industrial applications; and Industrial Products—provides construction fasteners, fastener coatings, custom-machined aluminum and brass forgings for construction, recreation and other industries, hand and arm protective wear, portable lighting equipment for mining and safety markets, and overhead electrification equipment for mass transit systems.

Food, Beverage & Water includes: Foodservice Technologies—supplies commercial food equipment for restaurants, fast food chains and hotels; Beverage Technologies—produces beverage dispensing and cooling equipment for foodservice retailers as well as on-shelf management systems for single-serve beverages and a wide range of pre-tooled stock solutions for in-store applications; and Water Technologies—manufactures and markets residential water softening, purification and refrigeration filtration systems, treatment systems for industrial markets including power generation, oil and gas, chemical, and pulp and paper, gear drives for irrigation systems and cooling towers, and air-cooled heat exchangers.

Retail & Highway includes: Retail Store Equipment—provides shelving systems, merchandising solutions, shopping carts, and other related services to retail stores in addition to material handling and security carts and automation equipment for several other industries; Retail Science—delivers retail market solutions to brands and retailers including merchandising displays, in-store digital merchandising and marketing programs; Retail Products—supplies a variety of products through the home center and other retail channels, including extension cords, work and garden gloves, and air compressors along with related tools and accessories; Automotive Solutions—serves the light vehicle automotive aftermarket industry primarily with clutches and engine mounts; and Highway Technologies—serves the heavy-duty highway transportation industry with fifth wheel coupling solutions, trailers, wheel-end products such as brake drums, undercarriage products such as severe duty axles and suspension systems, and truck modification services.

Other industrial products

CTB International Corp. (“CTB”), headquartered in Milford, Indiana, is a leading global designer, manufacturer and marketer of a wide range of agricultural systems and solutions for preserving grain, producing poultry, pigs and eggs, and for processing poultry, fish, vegetables and other foods. CTB operates from facilities located around the globe and supports customers through a worldwide network of independent distributors and dealers.

CTB competes with a variety of manufacturers and suppliers, many of which offer only a limited number of the products offered by CTB and two of which offer products across many of CTB’s product lines. Competition is based on the price, value, reputation, quality and design of the products offered and the customer service provided by distributors, dealers and manufacturers of the products. CTB’s leading brand names, distribution network, diversified product line, product support and high-quality products enable it to compete effectively. CTB manufactures its products primarily from galvanized steel, steel wire, stainless steel and polymer materials and supplies of these materials have been sufficient in recent years.

The Scott Fetzer companies are a diversified group of businesses that manufacture, distribute, service and finance a wide variety of products for residential, industrial and institutional use. The most significant of these businesses are Kirby home care systems and related businesses.

On February 26, 2014, Berkshire acquired a global supplier of pipeline flow improver products from Phillips 66. The business, headquartered in Houston, Texas, was initially named Lubrizol Specialty Products, Inc. and in 2016 was renamed LiquidPower Specialty Products Inc.

Berkshire’s industrial products manufacturers employ approximately 70,000 persons.

 

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Building Products

Shaw Industries

Shaw Industries Group, Inc. (“Shaw”), headquartered in Dalton, Georgia, is the world’s largest carpet manufacturer based on both revenue and volume of production. Shaw designs and manufactures over 3,800 styles of tufted carpet, laminate and wood flooring for residential and commercial use under about 30 brand and trade names and under certain private labels. Shaw also provides installation services and sells ceramic and vinyl tile along with sheet vinyl. Shaw’s manufacturing operations are fully integrated from the processing of raw materials used to make fiber through the finishing of carpet. Shaw’s carpet and hard surface products are sold in a broad range of patterns, colors and textures. Shaw operates Shaw Sports Turf and Southwest Greens International, LLC which provide synthetic sports turf, golf greens and landscape turf products. During 2014, Shaw exited the woven rug business. In 2016, Shaw acquired USFloors, Inc. which is a leading innovator and marketer of wood-plastic composite flooring, as well as cork, bamboo and hardwood products.

Shaw products are sold wholesale to over 30,000 retailers, distributors and commercial users throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico and are also exported to various overseas markets. Shaw’s wholesale products are marketed domestically by over 2,600 salaried and commissioned sales personnel directly to retailers and distributors and to large national accounts. Shaw’s seven carpet, four hard surface and one sample full-service distribution facilities and 25 redistribution centers, along with centralized management information systems, enable it to provide prompt and efficient delivery of its products to both its retail customers and wholesale distributors.

Substantially all carpet manufactured by Shaw is tufted carpet made from nylon, polypropylene and polyester. In the tufting process, yarn is inserted by multiple needles into a synthetic backing, forming loops, which may be cut or left uncut, depending on the desired texture or construction. During 2016, Shaw processed approximately 99% of its requirements for carpet yarn in its own yarn processing facilities. The availability of raw materials continues to be good but costs are impacted by petro-chemical and natural gas price changes. Raw material cost changes are periodically factored into selling prices to customers.

The floor covering industry is highly competitive with more than 100 companies engaged in the manufacture and sale of carpet in the United States and numerous manufacturers engaged in hard surface floor covering production and sales. According to industry estimates, carpet accounts for approximately 50% of the total United States consumption of all flooring types. The principal competitive measures within the floor covering industry are quality, style, price and service.

Johns Manville

Johns Manville (“JM”) is a leading manufacturer and marketer of premium-quality products for building insulation, mechanical insulation, industrial insulation, commercial roofing and roof insulation, as well as fibers and nonwovens for commercial, industrial and residential applications. JM serves markets that include aerospace, automotive and transportation, air handling, appliance, HVAC, pipe insulation, filtration, waterproofing, building, flooring, interiors and wind energy. Fiberglass is the basic material in a majority of JM’s products, although JM also manufactures a significant portion of its products with other materials to satisfy the broader needs of its customers. Raw materials are readily available in sufficient quantities from various sources for JM to maintain and expand its current production levels. JM regards its patents and licenses as valuable, however it does not consider any of its businesses to be materially dependent on any single patent or license. JM is headquartered in Denver, Colorado, and operates 43 manufacturing facilities in North America, Europe and China and conducts research and development at its technical center in Littleton, Colorado and at other facilities in the U.S. and Europe.

The basic material in a significant number of JM’s products is fiber glass, made from proprietary organic and acrylic-based formaldehyde-free agents to bind many of its glass fibers. JM’s products contain materials other than fiber glass, including various chemical and petro-chemical-based materials used in roofing and other specialized products. JM uses recycled material when available and suitable to satisfy the broader needs of its customers. The raw materials used in these various products are readily available in sufficient quantities from various sources for JM to maintain and expand its current production levels.

JM’s operations are subject to a variety of federal, state and local environmental laws and regulations. These laws and regulations regulate the discharge of materials into the air, land and water and govern the use and disposal of hazardous substances. The most relevant of the federal laws include are the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980, which are administered by the EPA. In 2015, the EPA revised the hazardous air pollutant rules for the wool fiber glass and mineral wool manufacturing industries. While the new rules implement new emission standards, they are not expected to require material expenditures by JM to meet the compliance dates in 2017.

 

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JM sells its products through a wide variety of channels including contractors, distributors, retailers, manufacturers and fabricators. JM operates in a highly competitive market, with competitors comprised primarily of several large global and national manufacturers and smaller regional manufacturers. JM holds leadership positions in the key markets that it serves. JM’s products compete primarily on the basis of value, product differentiation and customization and breadth of product line. Sales of JM’s products are moderately seasonal due to increases in construction activity that typically occur in the second and third quarters of the calendar year. JM is seeing a trend in customer purchasing decisions being determined based on the sustainable and energy efficient attributes of its products, services and operations.

MiTek Industries

MiTek Industries, Inc. (“MiTek”), based in Chesterfield, Missouri, operates in three separate markets: residential, commercial and industrial. MiTek operates worldwide with sales in over 100 countries and with manufacturing facilities and/or sales/engineering offices located in 21 countries. MiTek has completed a number of bolt-on acquisitions in the past five (5) years, intended to diversify product offerings and reducing the impact of the cyclical global housing markets.

In the residential market MiTek is the world’s leading supplier of engineered connector products, construction hardware, engineering software and services and computer-driven manufacturing machinery to the truss component market of the building components industry. MiTek’s primary customers are component manufacturers who manufacture prefabricated roof and floor trusses and wall panels for the residential building market. MiTek also sells construction hardware to commercial distributors and do-it-yourself retail stores under the USP® Structural Connectors name.

MiTek’s commercial market business includes products and services sold to the commercial construction industry. Product offering include curtain wall systems (Benson Industries, Inc.), anchoring systems for masonry and stone (Hohmann & Barnard, Inc.), light gauge steel framing products (Aegis Metal Framing Division of MiTek USA, Inc.), engineering services for a proprietary high-performance steel frame connection (SidePlate Systems, Inc.) and a comprehensive range of round, rectangular, oval and spiral ductwork for the ventilation market (M&M Manufacturing, Inc.).

MiTek’s industrial market business includes: automated machinery for the battery manufacturing industry (TBS Engineering, Ltd.), highly customized air handling systems sold to commercial, institutional and industrial markets (TMI Climate Solutions, Inc.), design and supply of Nuclear Safety Related HVAC systems and components (Ellis & Watts Global Industries, Inc.), energy recovery and dehumidification systems for commercial applications (Heat-Pipe Technology, Inc.) and pre-engineered and pre-fabricated custom structural mezzanines and platforms for distribution and manufacturing facilities (Cubic Designs, Inc.).

A significant raw material used is hot dipped galvanized sheet steel. While supplies are presently adequate, variations in supply have historically occurred, producing significant variations in cost and availability.

Benjamin Moore

Benjamin Moore & Co. (“Benjamin Moore”), headquartered in Montvale, New Jersey, is a leading formulator, manufacturer and retailer of a broad range of architectural coatings, available principally in the United States and Canada. Products include water-based and solvent-based general-purpose coatings (paints, stains and clear finishes) for use by the consumers, contractors and industrial and commercial users. Products are marketed under various registered brand names, including, but not limited to, Aura®, Natura®, Regal Select®, Ultra Spec®, MoorGard®, ben®, Eco Spec®, Coronado®, Corotech®, Insl-x® and Lenmar®.

Benjamin Moore relies primarily on an independent dealer network for distribution of its products. Benjamin Moore’s distribution network includes over 3,300 independent retailers currently representing over 5,000 storefronts in the United States and Canada. The independent dealer channel offers a broad array of products including Benjamin Moore®, Coronado® and Insl-x® brands and other competitor coatings, wall coverings, window treatments and sundries. In addition, Benjamin Moore operates an on-line “pick up in store” program, which allows consumers to place orders via an e-commerce site or for national accounts and government agencies via its customer information center. These orders may be picked up at the customer’s nearest dealer.

Benjamin Moore competes with numerous manufacturers, distributors and paint, coatings and related products retailers. Product quality, product innovation, breadth of product line, technical expertise, service and price determine the competitive advantage. Competitors include other paint and decorating stores, mass merchandisers, home centers, independent hardware stores, hardware chains and manufacturer-operated direct outlets, such as Sherwin-Williams Company, PPG Industries, Inc., The Valspar Corporation, The Home Depot, Inc. and Lowe’s Companies.

 

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The most significant raw materials in Benjamin Moore products are titanium dioxide, solvents, and epoxy and other resins. Historically, these materials have been generally available, with pricing and availability subject to fluctuation.

Acme Brick

Acme Brick Company (“Acme”) headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, manufactures and distributes clay bricks (Acme Brick®), concrete block (Featherlite) and cut limestone (Texas Quarries). In addition, Acme and its subsidiaries distribute a number of other building products of other manufacturers, including floor and wall tile, wood flooring and other masonry products. Products are sold primarily in the South Central and South Eastern United States through company-operated sales offices. Acme distributes products primarily to homebuilders and masonry and general contractors.

Acme and its affiliates operate 26 clay brick manufacturing facilities at 22 sites located in eight states, six concrete block facilities in Texas and two stone fabrication facilities located in Texas and Alabama. In addition, Acme and its subsidiaries operate a glass block fabrication facility, a concrete bagging facility and a stone burnishing facility, all located in Texas. The demand for Acme’s products is seasonal, with higher sales in the warmer weather months, and is subject to the level of construction activity, which is cyclical. Acme also owns and leases properties and mineral rights that supply raw materials used in many of its manufactured products. Acme’s raw materials supply is believed to be adequate.

The brick industry is subject to the EPA’s Maximum Achievable Control Technology Rule (MACT Rule) finalized in October of 2015 with a deadline for compliance of December 31, 2018. Key elements of the MACT Rule include emission limits established certain hazardous air pollutants and acidic gases. The MACT Rule also establishes work practices for “periodic” kilns, including using a designed firing time and temperature for each product, labeling maximum loads, keeping a log of each load, and developing and implementing inspection and maintenance procedures. While many of Acme’s facilities are in compliance, additional capital expenditures may be required to bring other facilities into compliance by the deadline.

Berkshire’s building products manufacturers employ approximately 38,000 people.

Consumer Products

Apparel

Fruit of the Loom (“FOL”) is headquartered in Bowling Green, Kentucky. FOL is primarily a manufacturer and distributor of basic apparel, underwear, casualwear, athletic apparel and hardgoods. Products, under the Fruit of the Loom® and JERZEES® labels are primarily sold in the mass merchandise, mid-tier chains and wholesale markets. In the Vanity Fair Brands product line, Vassarette® and Curvation® are sold in the mass merchandise market, while Vanity Fair® and Lily of France® products are sold to mid-tier chains and department stores. FOL also markets and sells athletic uniforms, apparel, sports equipment and balls to team dealers; collegiate licensed tee shirts and fleecewear to college bookstores; and athletic apparel, sports equipment and balls to sporting goods retailers under the Russell Athletic® and Spalding® brands. Additionally, Spalding® markets and sells balls in the mass merchandise market and dollar store channels. In 2016, approximately 41% of FOL’s sales were to Wal-Mart. In 2015, FOL exited an unprofitable intimate apparel business in Europe.

FOL generally performs its own knitting, cloth finishing, cutting, sewing and packaging for apparel. For the North American market which comprised about 85% of FOL’s net sales in 2016, the majority of its cloth manufacturing was performed in Honduras. Labor-intensive cutting, sewing and packaging operations are located in lower labor cost facilities in Central America and the Caribbean. For the European market, products are either sourced from third-party contractors in Europe or Asia or sewn in Morocco from textiles internally produced in Morocco. FOL’s bras, athletic equipment, sporting goods and other athletic apparel lines are generally sourced from third-party contractors located primarily in Asia.

U.S. grown cotton and polyester fibers are the main raw materials used in the manufacturing of FOL’s apparel products and are purchased from a limited number of third-party suppliers. Additionally in 2015, FOL entered into an agreement with one key supplier to provide the majority of FOL’s yarn. Management currently believes there are readily available alternative sources of raw materials and yarn. However, if relationships with suppliers cannot be maintained or delays occur in obtaining alternative sources of supply, production could be adversely affected, which could have a corresponding adverse effect on results of operations. Additionally, raw materials are subject to price volatility caused by weather, supply conditions, government regulations, economic climate and other unpredictable factors. FOL has secured contracts to purchase cotton, either directly or through the yarn suppliers, to meet the majority of its production plans for 2017. FOL’s markets are highly competitive, consisting of many domestic and foreign manufacturers and distributors. Competition is generally based upon product features, quality, customer service and price.

 

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Garan designs, manufactures, imports and sells apparel primarily for children, including boys, girls, toddlers and infants. Products are sold under its own trademark Garanimals® and customer private label brands. Garan also licenses its registered trademark Garanimals® to third parties for apparel and non-apparel products. Garan conducts its business through operating subsidiaries located in the United States, Central America and Asia. Substantially all of Garan’s products are sold through its distribution centers in the United States with sales to Wal-Mart representing over 90% of its sales. Fechheimer Brothers manufactures, distributes and sells uniforms, principally for the public service and safety markets, including police, fire, postal and military markets. Fechheimer Brothers is based in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Justin Brands and H.H. Brown Shoe Group manufacture and distribute work, rugged outdoor and casual shoes and western-style footwear under a number of brand names, including Justin, Tony Lama®, Nocona®, Chippewa®, BØRN®, BØC®, Carolina®, Söfft, Double-H Boots®, Eürosoft®, and Comfortiva®. Brooks Sports markets and sells performance running footwear and apparel to specialty and national retailers and directly to consumers under the Brooks® brand. Since 2011, Brooks® has maintained a #1 market share position in the running specialty channel in the United States. A significant volume of the shoes sold by Berkshire’s shoe businesses are manufactured or purchased from sources outside the United States. Products are sold worldwide through a variety of channels including department stores, footwear chains, specialty stores, catalogs and the Internet, as well as through company-owned retail stores.

Other consumer products

Forest River, Inc. (“Forest River”) is a manufacturer of recreational vehicles (“RV”), utility cargo trailers, buses and pontoon boats, headquartered in Elkhart, Indiana with products sold in the United States and Canada through an independent dealer network. Forest River has numerous manufacturing facilities located in six states. Forest River is a leading manufacturer of RV with brand names such as Berkshire, Cardinal, Cedar Creek, Cherokee, Coachman, Dynamax, Flagstaff, Forester, Georgetown, Palomino, Prime Time Manufacturing, Puma, Rockwood, Salem, Sandpiper, Sierra, Sunseeker, Surveyor, Viking RV and Wildwood. Utility cargo trailers are sold under Cargo Mate, Continental, Rance and US Cargo brand names among others. Buses are sold under the Elkhart Coach, Glaval Bus, Starcraft Bus, and Startrans Bus brand names. Pontoon boats are sold under the Berkshire, South Bay, and Trifecta brand names. The RV industry, Forest River’s principal market, is very competitive. Competition is based primarily on price, design, quality and service.

Berkshire acquired the Duracell Company (“Duracell’), on February 26, 2016 from the Proctor & Gamble Company. Duracell, headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, is a leading manufacturer of high performance alkaline batteries. Duracell manufactures batteries in the U.S., Europe and China and provides a network of worldwide sales and distribution centers. Costco and Walmart are significant customers, each representing 10% of Duracell’s annual revenue. There are several competitors in the battery manufacturing market with Duracell holding an approximately 37% market share of the global alkaline battery market. Management believes there are sufficient sources of raw materials, which primarily include steel, zinc and manganese.

Albecca Inc. (“Albecca”), headquartered in Norcross, Georgia, does business primarily under the Larson-Juhl® name. Albecca designs, manufactures and distributes a complete line of high quality, branded custom framing products, including wood and metal moulding, matboard, foamboard, glass, equipment and other framing supplies in the U.S., Canada and 13 countries outside of North America.

Richline Group, Inc. is the business platform providing financial, operations and marketing support to its four independent strategic business units: Richline Jewelry, LeachGarner, Rio Grande and Inverness. Each business unit is uniquely a manufacturer and distributor of jewelry with precious metal and non-precious metal products to specific target markets including large jewelry chains, department stores, shopping networks, mass merchandisers, e-commerce retailers and artisans plus worldwide manufacturers and wholesalers.

Berkshire’s consumer products manufacturers employ approximately 53,000 persons.

Service and Retailing Businesses

Service Businesses

Berkshire’s service businesses provide grocery and foodservice distribution, professional aviation training programs, fractional aircraft ownership programs and distribution of electronic components. Other service businesses include a variety of media related businesses (newspaper, television and information distribution), franchising and servicing a large system of quick service restaurants, as well as steel service and logistics businesses. Berkshire’s service businesses employ approximately 22,000 people. Information concerning these activities follows.

 

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McLane Company

McLane Company, Inc. (“McLane”) provides wholesale distribution services in all 50 states to customers that include convenience stores, discount retailers, wholesale clubs, drug stores, military bases, quick service restaurants and casual dining restaurants. McLane provides wholesale distribution services to Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (“Wal-Mart”), which accounts for approximately 25% of McLane’s revenues. McLane’s other significant customers include 7-Eleven and Yum! Brands, each of which accounted for over 10% of McLane’s revenues in 2016. A curtailment of purchasing by Wal-Mart or its other significant customers could have a material adverse impact on McLane’s periodic revenues and earnings. McLane’s business model is based on a high volume of sales, rapid inventory turnover and stringent expense controls. Operations are currently divided into three business units: grocery distribution, foodservice distribution and beverage distribution.

McLane’s grocery distribution unit, based in Temple, Texas, maintains a dominant market share within the convenience store industry and serves most of the national convenience store chains and major oil company retail outlets. Grocery operations provide products to approximately 47,000 retail locations nationwide, including Wal-Mart. McLane’s grocery distribution unit operates 23 facilities in 19 states.

McLane’s foodservice distribution unit, based in Carrollton, Texas, focuses on serving the quick service restaurant industry with high quality, timely-delivered products. Operations are conducted through 18 facilities in 16 states. The foodservice distribution unit services approximately 22,000 chain restaurants nationwide. Additionally in 2012, McLane acquired Meadowbrook Meat Company (MBM), a large customized foodservice distributor for national restaurant chains operating from 34 distribution facilities in 14 states. MBM services approximately 14,000 chain restaurants nationwide.

Through its subsidiaries, McLane also operates several wholesale distributors of distilled spirits, wine and beer. Operations are conducted through 14 distribution centers in Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Colorado. These beverage units, Empire Distributors, Horizon Wine & Spirits, Delta Wholesale Liquors, B&T Distributing and Baroness Small Estates, service approximately 26,000 retail locations in the Southeastern United States and Colorado.

FlightSafety International

FlightSafety International Inc. (“FlightSafety”), headquartered at New York’s LaGuardia Airport, is an industry leader in professional aviation training services to individuals, businesses (including certain commercial aviation companies) and the U.S. and foreign governments. FlightSafety primarily provides high technology training to pilots, aircraft maintenance technicians, flight attendants and dispatchers who operate and support a wide variety of business, commercial and military aircraft. FlightSafety operates a large fleet of advanced full flight simulators at its learning centers and training locations in the United States, Canada, China, France, Japan, Norway, Singapore, South Africa, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. The vast majority of FlightSafety’s instructors, training programs and flight simulators are qualified by the United States Federal Aviation Administration and other aviation regulatory agencies around the world.

FlightSafety is also a leader in the design and manufacture of full flight simulators, visual systems, displays and other advanced technology training devices. This equipment is used to support FlightSafety training programs and is offered for sale to airlines and government and military organizations around the world. Manufacturing facilities are located in Oklahoma, Missouri and Texas. FlightSafety strives to maintain and manufacture simulators and develop courseware using state-of-the-art technology and invests in research and development as it builds new equipment and training programs.

NetJets

NetJets Inc. (“NetJets”) is the world’s leading provider of fractional ownership programs for general aviation aircraft. NetJets’ executive offices and U.S. operations are located in Columbus, Ohio, with most of its logistical and flight operations based at Port Columbus International Airport. NetJets’ European operations are based in Lisbon, Portugal. The fractional ownership concept is designed to meet the needs of customers who cannot justify the purchase of an entire aircraft based upon expected usage. In addition, fractional ownership programs are available for corporate flight departments seeking to outsource their general aviation needs or add capacity for peak periods, and for others that previously chartered aircraft.

NetJets’ fractional aircraft ownership programs permit customers to acquire a specific percentage of a certain aircraft type and allow customers to utilize the aircraft for a specified number of flight hours per annum. In addition, NetJets offers prepaid flight cards and aviation solutions that provide aircraft management, ground support and flight operation services under a number of programs including NetJets Shares™, NetJets Leases™ and the Marquis Jet Card®.

 

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NetJets is subject to the rules and regulations of the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Institute of Civil Aviation of Portugal and the European Aviation Safety Agency. Regulations address aircraft registration, maintenance requirements, pilot qualifications and airport operations, including flight planning and scheduling as well as security issues and other matters. NetJets places great emphasis on safety and customer service. Its programs are designed to offer customers guaranteed availability of aircraft, low and predictable operating costs and increased liquidity.

TTI, Inc.

TTI, Inc. (“TTI”), headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, is a global specialty distributor of passive, interconnect, electromechanical and discrete components used by customers in the manufacturing and assembling of electronic products. TTI’s customer base includes original equipment manufacturers, electronic manufacturing services, original design manufacturers, military and commercial customers, as well as design and system engineers. TTI services a variety of industries including telecommunications, medical devices, computers and office equipment, military/aerospace, automotive and consumer electronics. TTI’s business model covers design through production in the electronic component supply chain and consists of its core business, which supports high volume production business and its Mouser division, which supports a broader base of customers with lower volume purchases.

TTI’s distribution agreements with the industry’s leading suppliers allow it to uniquely leverage its product cost and to expand its business by providing new lines and products to its customers. TTI operates sales offices and distribution centers from more than 100 locations throughout North America, Europe, Asia and Israel. In 2012, TTI acquired Sager Electrical Supply Company, Inc. (“Sager”), a leading distributor of electronic components headquartered in Middleborough, Massachusetts. Sager’s business is focused on becoming a power specialist in the electronics distribution market. During the past two years, PowerGate, LLC and Norvell Electronics, Inc. were acquired to strengthen Sager’s value-added sales capabilities as well as market position as a power specialist in the North American market.

Other services

Business Wire provides electronic dissemination of full-text news releases to the media, online services and databases and the global investment community in 150 countries and in 45 languages. Approximately 88% of Business Wire’s revenues derive from its core news distribution business. The Buffalo News and BH Media Group, Inc. are publishers of 32 daily and 46 weekly newspapers in upstate New York, New Jersey, Nebraska, Iowa, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama and Florida. The newspapers operate primarily in small to mid-sized markets with strong local community connections. In June 2014, Berkshire acquired WPLG, Inc. an ABC affiliate broadcast station in Miami, Florida.

International Dairy Queen develops and services a worldwide system of over 6,800 stores operating primarily under the names DQ Grill and Chill®, Dairy Queen® and Orange Julius® that offer various dairy desserts, beverages, prepared foods and blended fruit drinks. Precision Steel operates a metal service center and a manufacturer of tool room specialty and maintenance items both located in the Chicago metropolitan area. The service center buys stainless steel, low carbon sheet and strip steel, coated metals, spring steel and other metals, cuts these metals to order, and sells them to customers involved in a wide variety of industries. The manufacturer of tool room specialty and maintenance items sells its product through industrial distributors.

In December 2014, Berkshire acquired Charter Brokerage (“Charter”), a leading non-asset based third party logistics provider to the petroleum and chemical industries. Charter’s service offerings include customs clearance, drawback of duties and taxes and fees, freight forwarding, marine logistics, trading and administration of foreign trade zone storage and distribution facilities. Charter’s business activities are primarily subject to U.S. Customs laws and regulations, which deal with the import and export of goods and the assessment of related tariffs and taxes. Charter’s offices are located in Connecticut, Texas, New York, Florida, Louisiana and Alberta, Canada.

Berkshire’s service businesses employ approximately 45,500 employees.

Retailing Businesses

Berkshire’s retailing businesses principally include automotive, home furnishings and several other operations that sell various consumer products. Information regarding each of these operations follows.

Berkshire Hathaway Automotive

In the first quarter of 2015, Berkshire acquired a group of affiliated companies referred to as the Berkshire Hathaway Automotive Group, Inc. (BHA). BHA is the 4th largest automotive retailer in the United States, currently operating 109 new vehicle franchises through 83 dealerships located primarily in major metropolitan markets in the United States. The dealerships

 

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sell new and used vehicles, vehicle maintenance and repair services, extended service contracts, vehicle protection products and other aftermarket products. BHA also arranges financing for its customers’ through third-party lenders. BHA operates 31 collision service centers directly connected to the dealerships’ operations and owns and operates two auto auctions and a fluid maintenance products distribution company.

Dealership operations are highly concentrated in the Arizona and Texas markets, with approximately 70% of dealership-related revenues derived from sales in these markets. BHA currently maintains franchise agreements with 27 different vehicle manufacturers, although it derives a significant portion of its revenue from the Toyota/Lexus, General Motors, Ford/Lincoln, Nissan/Infiniti and Honda/Acura brands. Over 85% of BHA’s revenues are from dealerships representing these manufacturers.

The retail automotive industry is highly competitive. BHA faces competition from other large public and private dealership groups, as well as individual franchised dealerships and competition via the Internet. Given the pricing transparency available via the Internet, and the fact that franchised dealers acquire vehicles from the manufacturers on the same terms irrespective of volume, the location and quality of the dealership facility, customer service and transaction speed are key differentiators in attracting customers and driving revenue.

BHA’s overall relationships with the automobile manufacturers are governed by framework agreements. The framework agreements contain provisions relating to the management, operation, acquisition and the ownership structure of franchised automotive dealerships. Failure to meet the terms of these agreements could adversely impact BHA’s ability to make further acquisitions of such manufacturers’ stores. Additionally, these agreements contain limitations on the number of dealerships from a specific manufacturer that may be acquired by BHA.

Individual dealerships operate under franchise agreements with the manufacturer, which grants the dealership entity a non-exclusive right to sell the manufacturer’s brand of vehicles and offer related parts and service within a specified market area, as well as the right to the manufacturer’s trademarks. The agreements contain various operational requirements and restrictions related to the management and operation of the franchised dealership and provide for termination of the agreement by the manufacturer or non-renewal for a variety of causes. The states generally have automotive dealership franchise laws that provide substantial protection to the franchisee, and it is very difficult for a manufacturer to terminate or not renew a franchise agreement outside of bankruptcy or with “good cause” under the applicable state franchise law.

BHA owns approximately 6.0 million square feet of buildings and approximately 945 acres of land that are utilized in the BHA dealership and related operations. BHA also develops, underwrites and administers the various vehicle protection plans, life and accident and health insurance plans sold to consumers through the dealerships on products sold by BHA’s dealerships as well as third party dealerships. BHA also develops proprietary training programs and materials, and provides ongoing monitoring and training of the dealership’s finance and insurance personnel.

Home furnishings retailing

The home furnishings businesses are Nebraska Furniture Mart (“NFM”), R.C. Willey Home Furnishings (“R.C. Willey”), Star Furniture Company (“Star”) and Jordan’s Furniture, Inc. (“Jordan’s”). These businesses offer a wide selection of furniture, bedding and accessories. In addition, NFM and R.C. Willey sell a full line of major household appliances, electronics, computers and other home furnishings. These businesses also offer customer financing to complement their retail operations. An important feature of each of these businesses is their ability to control costs and to produce high business volume by offering significant value to their customers.

NFM operates its business from three very large retail complexes with almost 2.8 million square feet of retail space and sizable warehouse and administrative facilities in Omaha, Nebraska, Kansas City, Kansas and The Colony, Texas. NFM is the largest furniture retailer in each of these markets. The Colony, Texas store opened in 2015 and includes retail space of approximately 560,000 square feet. NFM also owns Homemakers Furniture located in Des Moines, Iowa, which has approximately 215,000 square feet of retail space. R.C. Willey, based in Salt Lake City, Utah, is the dominant home furnishings retailer in the Intermountain West region of the United States. R.C. Willey currently operates 11 retail stores and three distribution centers. These facilities include approximately 1.3 million square feet of retail space with six stores located in Utah, one store in Idaho, three stores in Nevada and one store in California.

Star’s retail facilities include about 700,000 square feet of retail space in 11 locations in Texas with eight in Houston. Star maintains a dominant position in each of its markets. Jordan’s operates a furniture retail business from six locations with approximately 755,000 square feet of retail space in stores located in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and a

 

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newly-opened store in New Haven, Connecticut. The retail stores are supported by an 800,000 square foot distribution center in Taunton, Massachusetts. Jordan’s is the largest furniture retailer, as measured by sales, in the Massachusetts and New Hampshire areas. Jordan’s is well known in its markets for its unique store arrangements and advertising campaigns.

Other retailing

Borsheim Jewelry Company, Inc. (“Borsheims”) operates from a single store in Omaha, Nebraska. Borsheims is a high volume retailer of fine jewelry, watches, crystal, china, stemware, flatware, gifts and collectibles. Helzberg’s Diamond Shops, Inc. (“Helzberg”) is based in North Kansas City, Missouri, and operates a chain of 223 retail jewelry stores in 36 states, which includes approximately 500,000 square feet of retail space. Helzberg’s stores are located in malls, lifestyle centers, power strip centers and outlet malls, and all stores operate under the name Helzberg Diamonds® or Helzberg Diamonds Outlet®. The Ben Bridge Corporation (“Ben Bridge Jeweler”), based in Seattle, Washington, operates a chain of 90 upscale retail jewelry stores located in 11 states primarily in the Western United States and in British Columbia, Canada. Thirty-six of its retail locations are concept stores that sell only PANDORA jewelry. Principal products include finished jewelry and timepieces. Ben Bridge Jeweler stores are located primarily in major shopping malls. Berkshire’s retail jewelry operations are subject to seasonality with over one-third of annual revenues generally earned in the fourth quarter.

See’s Candies (“See’s”) produces boxed chocolates and other confectionery products with an emphasis on quality and distinctiveness in two large kitchens in Los Angeles and San Francisco and one smaller facility in Burlingame, California. See’s operates approximately 245 retail and quantity discount stores located mainly in California and other Western states. See’s revenues are highly seasonal with nearly half of its annual revenues earned in the fourth quarter.

The Pampered Chef, Ltd. (“Pampered Chef”) is a premier direct seller of distinctive high quality kitchenware products with operations in the United States, Canada and Germany. Pampered Chef’s product portfolio consists of approximately 430 Pampered Chef branded kitchenware items in categories ranging from stoneware and cutlery to grilling and entertaining, all of which are curated to help the at-home cook save time. Pampered Chef’s products are available online as well as through a sales force of independent cooking consultants.

Oriental Trading Company (“OTC”) is a leading multi-channel retailer and online destination for value-priced party supplies, arts and crafts, toy novelties, school supplies, educational games and patient giveaways. OTC, headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska, serves a broad base of nearly four million customers annually, including consumers, schools, churches, non-profit organizations, medical and dental offices and other businesses. OTC operates a number of websites and utilizes sophisticated online and print marketing efforts to drive sales and customer satisfaction.

In April 2015, Berkshire acquired Detlev Louis Motorrad (“Louis”) which is headquartered in Hamburg, Germany. Louis is a leading retailer of motorcycle apparel and equipment in Europe. Louis carries over 32,000 different products from more than 600 manufacturers, primarily covering the clothing, technical equipment and leisure markets. Louis has over 70 stores in Germany and Austria and also sells through catalogs and via the Internet throughout most of Europe. In 2016, Louis opened its first store in Switzerland.

Berkshire’s retailing businesses employ approximately 30,000 people.

Finance and Financial Products

Berkshire’s finance and financial products activities include an integrated manufactured housing and finance business, leasing of transportation equipment, and furniture leasing. Berkshire’s finance and financial products businesses employ approximately 24,000 people in the aggregate. Information concerning these activities follows.

Clayton Homes

Clayton Homes, Inc. (“Clayton”), headquartered near Knoxville, Tennessee, is a vertically integrated home building company. Clayton operates 38 manufacturing plants in 12 states. Clayton’s homes are marketed in 48 states through a network of 1,923 retailers, including 341 company-owned home centers and 100 subdivisions. Financing is offered through its finance subsidiaries to purchasers of Clayton’s manufactured homes as well as those purchasing homes from selected independent retailers.

 

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Clayton competes at the manufacturing, retail and finance levels based on price, service, delivery capabilities and product performance and considers the ability to make financing available to retail purchasers a major factor affecting the market acceptance of its product. Retail sales are supported by Clayton’s offering of various financing and insurance programs.

Financing programs support company-owned home centers and select independent retailers. Proprietary loan underwriting guidelines have been developed and include ability to repay calculations, including debt to income limits, consideration of residual income and credit score requirements, which are considered in evaluating loan applicants. Approximately 72% of the originations are home-only loans and the remaining 28% have land as additional collateral. The average down payment is approximately 15%, which may be from cash, trade or land equity. Certain loan types require an independent third-party valuation; additionally, if land is involved in the transaction it generally is independently appraised in order to establish the value of the land only or the home and the land as a package. Originations are all at fixed rates and for fixed terms. Loans outstanding include non-government originations, bulk purchases of contracts and notes from banks and other lenders. Clayton also provides inventory financing to certain independent retailers and community operators and services housing contracts and notes that were not purchased or originated. The bulk contract purchases and servicing arrangements may relate to the portfolios of other lenders or finance companies, governmental agencies, or other entities that purchase and hold housing contracts and notes. Clayton also acts as agent on physical damage insurance policies, homebuyer protection plan policies and other programs.

Transportation Equipment Leasing

UTLX Company (“UTLX”), headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, operates railcar, crane, intermodal tank container, manufacturing and service businesses under several brand names. Union Tank Car is a leading designer, builder and full-service lessor of tank cars and other specialized railcars. Union Tank Car and its Canadian affiliate Procor own a fleet of over 134,000 railcars which they lease to chemical, petrochemical, energy and agricultural/food customers across North America, supported by railcar repair facilities and mobile units. Union Tank Car also manufactures tank cars in two U.S. plants. Sterling Crane in Canada and the U.S. and Freo Group in Australia are major mobile crane service providers with a total fleet of approximately 1,000 cranes primarily serving energy, mining and petrochemical markets. EXSIF Worldwide is a leading international lessor of intermodal tank containers with a fleet of approximately 47,000 units primarily serving chemical producers and logistics operators.

UTLX has a large number of customers diversified both geographically and across industries. UTLX, while subject to cyclicality and significant competition in all of its markets, successfully competes by offering a broad range of high quality products and services targeted at its niche markets from geographically strategic locations. Railcars and intermodal tank containers are usually leased for multiple-year terms and most of the leases are renewed upon expiration. As a result of selective ongoing capital investment and high maintenance standards, utilization rates (the number of units on lease to total units available) of UTLX’s railcar, crane and intermodal tank container equipment are generally relatively high. While tank cars operate in a highly regulated environment in North America, regulatory changes are not expected to materially impact UTLX’s operational capability, competitive position, or financial strength.

XTRA Corporation (“XTRA”), headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, is a leading transportation equipment lessor operating under the XTRA Lease® brand name. XTRA manages a diverse fleet of approximately 78,000 units located at 51 facilities throughout the United States. The fleet includes over-the-road and storage trailers, chassis, temperature controlled vans and flatbed trailers. XTRA is one of the largest lessors (in terms of units available) of over-the-road trailers in North America. Transportation equipment customers lease equipment to cover cyclical, seasonal and geographic needs and as a substitute for purchasing equipment. Therefore, as a provider of marginal capacity of transportation equipment, XTRA’s utilization rates and operating results tend to be cyclical. In addition, transportation providers often use leasing to maximize their asset utilization and reduce capital expenditures. By maintaining a large fleet, XTRA is able to provide customers with a broad selection of equipment and quick response times.

Other financial activities

CORT Business Services Corporation is the leading national provider of rental relocation services including rental furniture, accessories and related services in the “rent-to-rent” market of the furniture rental industry. BH Finance LLC invests in fixed-income and equity instruments. Historically, BH Finance LLC also entered into derivative contracts involving foreign currency, equity price and credit default risk. However, such derivative contracts are currently comprised of equity index contracts that were written prior to 2009. BH Finance’s activities are managed from Berkshire’s corporate headquarters. Management recognizes and accepts that losses may occur due to the nature of these activities as well as the markets in general.

Additional information with respect to Berkshire’s businesses

The amounts of revenue, earnings before taxes and identifiable assets attributable to the aforementioned business segments are included in Note 23 to Berkshire’s Consolidated Financial Statements contained in Item 8, Financial Statements and Supplementary Data. Additional information regarding Berkshire’s investments in fixed maturity securities, equity securities and other investments is included in Notes 3, 4 and 5 to Berkshire’s Consolidated Financial Statements.

 

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Since June 2013, Berkshire has maintained significant investments in H.J. Heinz Holding Corporation (now The Kraft Heinz Company). Information concerning these investments is included in Note 6 to the Registrant’s Consolidated Financial Statements. Kraft Heinz is one of the largest food and beverage companies in the world, with sales in approximately 190 countries and territories. Kraft Heinz manufactures and markets food and beverage products, including condiments and sauces, cheese and dairy products, meats, refreshment beverages, coffee and other grocery products under a number of brands, including Kraft, Heinz, ABC, Capri Sun, Classico, Jell-O, Kool-Aid, Lunchables, Maxwell House, Ore-Ida, Oscar Mayer, Philadelphia, Planters, Plasmon, Quero, Weight Watchers Smart Ones and Velveeta.

Berkshire maintains a website (http://www.berkshirehathaway.com) where its annual reports, certain corporate governance documents, press releases, interim shareholder reports and links to its subsidiaries’ websites can be found. Berkshire’s periodic reports filed with the SEC, which include Form 10-K, Form 10-Q, Form 8-K and amendments thereto, may be accessed by the public free of charge from the SEC and through Berkshire. Electronic copies of these reports can be accessed at the SEC’s website (http://www.sec.gov) and indirectly through Berkshire’s website (http://www.berkshirehathaway.com). Copies of these reports may also be obtained, free of charge, upon written request to: Berkshire Hathaway Inc., 3555 Farnam Street, Omaha, NE 68131, Attn: Corporate Secretary. The public may read or obtain copies of these reports from the SEC at the SEC’s Public Reference Room at 450 Fifth Street N.W., Washington, D.C. 20549 (1-800-SEC-0330).

 

Item  1A. Risk Factors

Berkshire and its subsidiaries (referred to herein as “we,” “us,” “our” or similar expressions) are subject to certain risks and uncertainties in its business operations which are described below. The risks and uncertainties described below are not the only risks we face. Additional risks and uncertainties that are presently unknown or are currently deemed immaterial may also impair our business operations.

We are dependent on a few key people for our major investment and capital allocation decisions.

Major investment decisions and all major capital allocation decisions are made by Warren E. Buffett, Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO, age 86, in consultation with Charles T. Munger, Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors, age 93. If for any reason the services of our key personnel, particularly Mr. Buffett, were to become unavailable, there could be a material adverse effect on our operations. However, Berkshire’s Board of Directors has identified certain current Berkshire subsidiary managers who, in their judgment, are capable of succeeding Mr. Buffett. Berkshire’s Board has agreed on a replacement for Mr. Buffett should a replacement be needed currently. The Board continually monitors this risk and could alter its current view regarding a replacement for Mr. Buffett in the future. We believe that the Board’s succession plan, together with the outstanding managers running our numerous and highly diversified operating units helps to mitigate this risk.

We need qualified personnel to manage and operate our various businesses.

In our decentralized business model, we need qualified and competent management to direct day-to-day business activities of our operating subsidiaries. Our operating subsidiaries also need qualified and competent personnel in executing their business plans and serving their customers, suppliers and other stakeholders. Changes in demographics, training requirements and the unavailability of qualified personnel could negatively impact one or more of our significant operating subsidiaries ability to meet demands of customers to supply goods and services. Recruiting and retaining qualified personnel is important to all of our operations. Although we have adequate personnel for the current business environment, unpredictable increases in demand for goods and services may exacerbate the risk of not having sufficient numbers of trained personnel, which could have a negative impact on our operating results, financial condition and liquidity.

The past growth rate in Berkshire’s book value per share is not an indication of future results.

In the years since present management acquired control of Berkshire, our book value per share has grown at a highly satisfactory rate. Because of the large size of our capital base (Berkshire shareholders’ equity was approximately $283 billion as of December 31, 2016), our book value per share will very likely not increase in the future at a rate close to its past rate.

Investments are unusually concentrated and fair values are subject to loss in value.

We concentrate a high percentage of the investments of our insurance subsidiaries in a relatively small number of equity securities and diversify our investment portfolios far less than is conventional in the insurance industry. A significant decline in the fair values of our larger investments may produce a material decline in our consolidated shareholders’ equity and our consolidated book value per share. Under certain circumstances, as required under existing GAAP, significant declines in the

 

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fair values of these investments may require the recognition of other-than-temporary impairment losses. In addition, beginning in 2018 due to a pending change in GAAP, all changes in the fair values of these investments (whether realized or unrealized) will be recognized as gains or losses in our consolidated statement of earnings. Accordingly, periodic changes in reported earnings will likely be subject to significant variability.

Since a large percentage of our investments are held in our insurance subsidiaries, a decrease in the fair values of our investments could produce a large decline in statutory surplus. Our large statutory surplus is a competitive advantage, and a material decline could have a materially adverse affect on our claims-paying ability ratings and our ability to write new insurance business thus affecting our future underwriting profitability.

Competition and technology may erode our business franchises and result in lower earnings.

Each of our operating businesses face intense competitive pressures within markets in which they operate. While we manage our businesses with the objective of achieving long-term sustainable growth by developing and strengthening competitive advantages, many factors, including market and technology changes, may erode or prevent the strengthening of competitive advantages. Accordingly, future operating results will depend to some degree on whether our operating units are successful in protecting or enhancing their competitive advantages. If our operating businesses are unsuccessful in these efforts, our periodic operating results in the future may decline.

Deterioration of general economic conditions may significantly reduce our operating earnings and impair our ability to access capital markets at a reasonable cost.

Our operating businesses are subject to normal economic cycles affecting the economy in general or the industries in which they operate. To the extent that the economy deteriorates for a prolonged period of time, one or more of our significant operations could be materially harmed. In addition, our utilities and energy businesses, our railroad business and our manufactured housing business regularly utilize debt as a component of their capital structures. These businesses depend on having access to borrowed funds through the capital markets at reasonable rates. To the extent that access to the capital markets is restricted or the cost of funding increases, these operations could be adversely affected.

Terrorist acts against the United States could hurt our operating businesses.

A successful (as defined by the aggressor) cyber, biological, nuclear or chemical attack against the United States could produce significant losses to our worldwide operations. Our business operations could be adversely affected directly through the loss of human resources or destruction of production facilities and information systems. This is a risk that we share with all U.S. based businesses.

Regulatory changes may adversely impact our future operating results.

In recent years, partially in response to financial markets crises, global economic recessions, and social and environmental issues, regulatory initiatives have accelerated in the United States and abroad. Such initiatives address for example, the regulation of banks and other major financial institutions, environmental and global-warming matters and health care reform. These initiatives impact not only our regulated insurance, energy and railroad transportation businesses, but also our manufacturing, services, retailing and financing businesses. Increased regulatory compliance costs could have a significant negative impact on our operating businesses, as well as on the businesses in which we have a significant but not controlling economic interest. We cannot predict whether such initiatives will have a material adverse impact on our consolidated financial position, results of operations or cash flows.

Cyber security risks

We rely on information technology in virtually all aspects of our business. A significant disruption or failure of our information technology systems could result in service interruptions, safety failures, security violations, regulatory compliance failures, an inability to protect information and assets against intruders, and other operational difficulties. Attacks perpetrated against our information systems could result in loss of assets and critical information and exposes us to remediation costs and reputational damage.

Although we have taken steps intended to mitigate these risks, including business continuity planning, disaster recovery planning and business impact analysis, a significant disruption or cyber intrusion could lead to misappropriation of assets or data corruption and could adversely affect our results of operations, financial condition and liquidity. Additionally, if we are

 

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unable to acquire or implement new technology, we may suffer a competitive disadvantage, which could also have an adverse effect on our results of operations, financial condition and liquidity.

Cyber attacks could further adversely affect our ability to operate facilities, information technology and business systems, or compromise confidential customer and employee information. Political, economic, social or financial market instability or damage to or interference with our operating assets, or our customers or suppliers may result in business interruptions, lost revenue, higher commodity prices, disruption in fuel supplies, lower energy consumption, unstable markets, increased security and repair or other costs, any of which may materially adversely affect us in ways that cannot be predicted at this time. Any of these risks could materially affect our consolidated financial results. Furthermore, instability in the financial markets as a result of terrorism, sustained or significant cyber attacks, or war could also materially adversely affect our ability to raise capital.

Derivative contracts may require significant future cash settlement payments and result in significant losses.

We have assumed the risk of potentially significant losses under equity index put option contracts. Although we received considerable premiums as compensation for accepting these risks, there is no assurance that the premiums we received will exceed our aggregate settlement payments. Risks of losses under our equity index put option contracts are based on declines in equity prices of stocks comprising certain major stock indexes. When these contracts expire beginning in 2018, we could be required to make significant payments if equity index prices are significantly below the strike prices specified in the contracts.

Equity index put option contracts are recorded at fair value in our Consolidated Balance Sheet and the periodic changes in fair values are reported in earnings. The valuations of these contracts and the impact on our periodic earnings can be particularly significant reflecting the inherent volatility of equity markets. Adverse changes in equity may result in material losses in periodic earnings.

Risks unique to our regulated businesses

Our tolerance for risk in our insurance businesses may result in significant underwriting losses.

When properly paid for the risk assumed, we have been and will continue to be willing to assume more risk from a single event than any other insurer has knowingly assumed. Accordingly, we could incur a significant loss from a single event. We may also write coverages for losses arising from acts of terrorism. We attempt to take into account all possible correlations and avoid writing groups of policies from which pre-tax losses might aggregate above $10 billion. Currently, we estimate that our aggregate exposure from a single event under outstanding policies is significantly below $10 billion. However, despite our efforts, losses may aggregate in unanticipated ways. Our tolerance for significant insurance losses may result in lower reported earnings (or net losses) in a future period.

The degree of estimation error inherent in the process of estimating property and casualty insurance loss reserves may result in significant underwriting losses.

The principal cost associated with the property and casualty insurance business is claims. In writing property and casualty insurance policies, we receive premiums today and promise to pay covered losses in the future. However, it will take decades before all claims that have occurred as of any given balance sheet date will be reported and settled. Although we believe that liabilities for unpaid losses are adequate, we will not know whether these liabilities or the premiums charged for the coverages provided were sufficient until well after the balance sheet date. Except for certain product lines, our objective is to generate underwriting profits over the long-term. Estimating insurance claim costs is inherently imprecise. Our estimated unpaid losses arising under contracts covering property and casualty insurance risks are large ($77 billion at December 31, 2016) so even small percentage increases to the aggregate liability estimate can result in materially lower future periodic reported earnings.

Changes in regulations and regulatory actions can adversely affect our operating results and our ability to allocate capital.

Our insurance businesses are subject to regulation in the jurisdictions in which we operate. Such regulations may relate to among other things, the types of business that can be written, the rates that can be charged for coverage, the level of capital that must be maintained, and restrictions on the types and size of investments that can be made. Regulations may also restrict the timing and amount of dividend payments to Berkshire by these businesses. Accordingly, changes in regulations related to these or other matters or regulatory actions imposing restrictions on our insurance companies may adversely impact our results of operations and restrict our ability to allocate capital.

 

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Our railroad business conducted through BNSF is also subject to a significant number of governmental laws and regulations with respect to rates and practices, taxes, railroad operations and a variety of health, safety, labor, environmental and other matters. Failure to comply with applicable laws and regulations could have a material adverse effect on BNSF’s business. Governments may change the legislative and/or regulatory framework within which BNSF operates without providing any recourse for any adverse effects that the change may have on the business. Federal legislation enacted in 2008 and amended in 2015 mandates the implementation of positive train control technology by December 31, 2018, on certain mainline track where intercity and commuter passenger railroads operate and where toxic-by-inhalation (“TIH”) hazardous materials are transported. Further, federal regulations promulgated in 2015 mandate the implementation of electronically controlled pneumatic braking systems on certain crude oil trains by 2021 and all high-hazard flammable trains, as defined by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and Federal Railroad Administration, by 2023. These types of technology require further testing and deploying them across BNSF’s railroad system and other railroads may pose significant operating and implementation risks and require significant capital expenditures.

BNSF derives significant amounts of revenue from the transportation of energy-related commodities. Low natural gas prices or oil prices could impact future energy-related commodities demand. To the extent that changes in government environmental policies limit or restrict the usage of coal as a source of fuel in generating electricity or alternate fuels, such as natural gas, displace coal on a competitive basis, revenues and earnings could be adversely affected. As a common carrier, BNSF is also required to transport TIH chemicals and other hazardous materials. An accidental release of hazardous materials could expose BNSF to significant claims, losses, penalties and environmental remediation obligations. Increased economic regulation of the rail industry could negatively impact BNSF’s ability to determine prices for rail services and to make capital improvements to its rail network, resulting in an adverse effect on our results of operations, financial condition or liquidity.

Our utilities and energy businesses operated under BHE are highly regulated by numerous federal, state, local and foreign governmental authorities in the jurisdictions in which they operate. These laws and regulations are complex, dynamic and subject to new interpretations or change. Regulations affect almost every aspect of our utilities and energy businesses, have broad application and limit their management’s ability to independently make and implement decisions regarding numerous matters, including acquiring businesses; constructing, acquiring or disposing of operating assets; operating and maintaining generating facilities and transmission and distribution system assets; complying with pipeline safety and integrity and environmental requirements; setting rates charged to customers; establishing capital structures and issuing debt or equity securities; transacting between our domestic utilities and our other subsidiaries and affiliates; and paying dividends or similar distributions. Failure to comply with or reinterpretations of existing regulations and new legislation or regulations, such as those relating to air and water quality, renewable portfolio standards, cyber security, emissions performance standards, climate change, coal combustion byproduct disposal, hazardous and solid waste disposal, protected species and other environmental matters, or changes in the nature of the regulatory process may have a significant adverse impact on our financial results.

Our railroad business requires significant ongoing capital investment to improve and maintain its railroad network so that transportation services can be safely and reliably provided to customers on a timely basis. Our utilities and energy businesses also require significant amounts of capital to construct, operate and maintain generation, transmission and distribution systems to meet their customers’ needs and reliability criteria. Additionally, system assets may need to be operational for very long periods of time in order to justify the financial investment. The risk of operational or financial failure of capital projects is not necessarily recoverable through rates that are charged to customers. Further, a significant portion of costs of capital improvements are funded through debt issued by BNSF and BHE and their subsidiaries. Disruptions in debt capital markets that restrict access to funding when needed could adversely affect the results of operations, liquidity and capital resources of these businesses.

 

Item  1B. Unresolved Staff Comments

None.

 

Item  2. Description of Properties

The properties used by Berkshire’s business segments are summarized in this section. Berkshire’s railroad and utilities and energy businesses, in particular, utilize considerable physical assets in their businesses.

 

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Railroad Business—Burlington Northern Santa Fe

Through BNSF Railway, BNSF operates one of the largest railroad networks in North America. BNSF Railway operates approximately 32,500 route miles of track (excluding multiple main tracks, yard tracks and sidings) in 28 states, and also operates in three Canadian provinces. BNSF owns over 23,000 route miles, including easements, and operates over 9,000 route miles of trackage rights that permit BNSF to operate its trains with its crews over other railroads’ tracks. The total BNSF Railway system, including single and multiple main tracks, yard tracks and sidings, consists of over 50,000 operated miles of track, all of which are owned by or held under easement by BNSF except for over 10,000 miles operated under trackage rights.

BNSF operates various facilities and equipment to support its transportation system, including its infrastructure, locomotives and freight cars. It also owns or leases other equipment to support rail operations such as vehicles. Support facilities for rail operations include yards and terminals throughout its rail network, system locomotive shops to perform locomotive servicing and maintenance, a centralized network operations center for train dispatching and network operations monitoring and management in Fort Worth, Texas, regional dispatching centers, computers, telecommunications equipment, signal systems and other support systems. Transfer facilities are maintained for rail-to-rail as well as intermodal transfer of containers, trailers and other freight traffic and include approximately 25 intermodal hubs located across the system. BNSF owns or holds under non-cancelable leases exceeding one year approximately 8,000 locomotives and 72,000 freight cars, in addition to maintenance of way and other equipment.

In the ordinary course of business, BNSF makes significant capital investments to expand and improve its railroad network. BNSF incurs significant costs in repairing and maintaining its properties. In 2016, BNSF recorded approximately $2 billion in repairs and maintenance expense.

Utilities and Energy Businesses—Berkshire Hathaway Energy

BHE’s energy properties consist of the physical assets necessary to support its electricity and natural gas businesses. Properties of BHE’s electricity businesses include electric generation, transmission and distribution facilities, as well as coal mining assets that support certain of BHE’s electric generating facilities. Properties of BHE’s natural gas businesses include natural gas distribution facilities, interstate pipelines, storage facilities, compressor stations and meter stations. The transmission and distribution assets are primarily within each of BHE’s utility service territories. In addition to these physical assets, BHE has rights-of-way, mineral rights and water rights that enable BHE to utilize its facilities. Pursuant to separate financing agreements, a majority of these properties are pledged or encumbered to support or otherwise provide the security for the related subsidiary debt. BHE or its affiliates own or have interests in the following types of electric generation facilities at December 31, 2016:

 

Energy Source

 

Entity

 

Location by Significance

  Facility
Net
Capacity
(MW) (1)
    Net
Owned
Capacity
(MW)  (1)
 

Natural gas

  PacifiCorp, MEC, NV Energy and BHE Renewables   Nevada, Utah, Iowa, Illinois, Washington, Oregon, Texas, New York, and Arizona     10,917       10,508  

Coal

  PacifiCorp, MEC and NV Energy   Wyoming, Iowa, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado and Montana     16,485       9,412  

Wind

  PacifiCorp, MEC and BHE Renewables   Iowa, Wyoming, Nebraska, Washington, California, Texas, Oregon, Illinois and Kansas     6,199       6,190  

Solar

  BHE Renewables and NV Energy   California, Arizona, Minnesota and Nevada     1,464       1,316  

Hydroelectric

  PacifiCorp, MEC and BHE Renewables   Washington, Oregon, The Philippines, Idaho, California, Utah, Hawaii, Montana, Illinois and Wyoming     1,297       1,275  

Nuclear

  MEC   Illinois     1,824       456  

Geothermal

  PacifiCorp and BHE Renewables   California and Utah     370       370  
     

 

 

   

 

 

 
    Total     38,556       29,527  
     

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

(1) Facility Net Capacity (MW) represents the lesser of nominal ratings or any limitations under applicable interconnection, power purchase, or other agreements for intermittent resources and the total net dependable capability available during summer conditions for all other units. An intermittent resource’s nominal rating is the manufacturer’s contractually specified capability (in MW) under specified conditions. Net Owned Capacity indicates BHE’s ownership of Facility Net Capacity.

 

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As of December 31, 2016, BHE’s subsidiaries also have electric generating facilities that are under construction in Iowa, and Minnesota having total Facility Net Capacity and Net Owned Capacity of 2,072 MW.

PacifiCorp, MEC and NV Energy own electric transmission and distribution systems, including approximately 24,700 miles of transmission lines and approximately 1,700 substations, gas distribution facilities, including approximately 26,600 miles of gas mains and service lines, and an estimated 44 million tons of recoverable coal reserves in mines owned or leased in Wyoming and Colorado.

Northern Powergrid (Northeast)’s and Northern Powergrid (Yorkshire)’s electricity distribution network includes approximately 18,000 miles of overhead lines, approximately 42,000 miles of underground cables and approximately 750 major substations. AltaLink’s electricity transmission system includes approximately 8,200 miles of transmission lines and approximately 300 substations.

Northern Natural’s pipeline system consists of approximately 14,700 miles of natural gas pipelines, including approximately 6,300 miles of mainline transmission pipelines and approximately 8,400 miles of branch and lateral pipelines. Northern Natural’s end-use and distribution market area includes points in Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Michigan and Illinois and its natural gas supply and delivery service area includes points in Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. Storage services are provided through the operation of one underground natural gas storage field in Iowa, two underground natural gas storage facilities in Kansas and two liquefied natural gas storage peaking units, one in Iowa and one in Minnesota.

Kern River’s system consists of approximately 1,700 miles of natural gas pipelines, including approximately 1,400 miles of mainline section, including 100 miles of lateral pipelines, and approximately 300 miles of common facilities. Kern River owns the entire mainline section, which extends from the system’s point of origination in Wyoming through the Central Rocky Mountains area into California.

Other Segments

The physical properties used by Berkshire’s other significant business segments are summarized below:

 

Business

  

Country

  

Location

  

Type of Property/Facility

  Number
of
Properties
    

Owned/
Leased

Insurance Group:

             

GEICO

   U.S.    Chevy Chase, MD and 6 other states    Offices     12      Owned
      Various locations in 38 states    Offices     107      Leased

General Re

   U.S.    Stamford, CT    Offices     1      Owned
      Various locations    Offices     25      Leased
  

Non-U.S.

   Cologne, Germany    Offices     1      Owned
      Various locations in 22 countries    Offices     27      Leased

BHRG

   U.S.    Stamford, CT and 4 other states    Offices     6      Leased
  

Non-U.S.

   Various locations in 5 countries    Offices     9      Leased

BH Primary Group

   U.S.   

Omaha, NE, Fort Wayne, IN,

Princeton, NJ, Wilkes-Barre, PA and Oklahoma City, OK

   Offices     7      Owned
      Various locations in 23 states    Offices     74      Leased
  

Non-U.S

   Locations in 7 countries    Offices     9      Leased

Manufacturing

  

U.S.

   Various locations   

Manufacturing plants

Manufacturing plants

Offices/Warehouses

Offices/Warehouses

Retail/Showroom

Retail/Showroom

   

470

158

214

398

21

49

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

Owned

Leased

Owned

Leased

Owned

Leased

 

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Business

  

Country

  

Location

  

Type of Property/Facility

  Number
of
Properties
    

Owned/
Leased

  

Non-U.S.

  

Various locations in over 60

countries

  

Manufacturing plants

Manufacturing plants

Offices/Warehouses

Offices/Warehouses

Retail/Showroom

   

218

141

62

533

4

 

 

 

 

 

  

Owned

Leased

Owned

Leased

Leased

Service

  

U.S.

   Various locations   

Training facilities/Hangars

Training facilities/Hangars

Offices/Distribution

Offices/Distribution

Production facilities

Production facilities

   

19

120

56

175

26

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

Owned

Leased

Owned

Leased

Owned

Leased

  

Non-U.S.

   Various locations in 34 countries   

Offices/Distribution/ Hangars/Training facilities

Offices/Distribution/ Hangars/Training facilities

   

19

130

 

 

  

Owned

Leased

McLane Company

  

U.S.

   Various locations   

Distribution centers/Offices

Distribution centers/Offices

   

57

36

 

 

  

Owned

Leased

Retailing

  

U.S.

   Various locations   

Offices/Warehouses/Plants

Offices/Warehouses

Retail/Showroom

Retail/Showroom

   

29

26

143

560

 

 

 

 

  

Owned

Leased

Owned

Leased

  

Non-U.S.

  

Germany

Locations in 6 countries

  

Office/Warehouse

Retail/Offices

   

1

89

 

 

  

Owned

Leased

Finance & Financial

Products

  

U.S.

   Various locations   

Manufacturing plants

Manufacturing plants

Offices/Warehouses

Offices/Warehouses

Leasing/Showroom/Retail

Leasing/Showroom/Retail

Housing communities

   

65

8

17

62

229

249

101

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

Owned

Leased

Owned

Leased

Owned

Leased

Owned

  

Non-U.S.

   Various locations in 12 countries    Manufacturing plants Manufacturing plants Offices/Warehouses Offices/Warehouses    

22

14

4

20

 

 

 

 

   Owned Leased Owned Leased

 

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Item 3. Legal Proceedings

Berkshire and its subsidiaries are parties in a variety of legal actions that routinely arise out of the normal course of business, including legal actions seeking to establish liability directly through insurance contracts or indirectly through reinsurance contracts issued by Berkshire subsidiaries. Plaintiffs occasionally seek punitive or exemplary damages. We do not believe that such normal and routine litigation will have a material effect on our financial condition or results of operations. Berkshire and certain of its subsidiaries are also involved in other kinds of legal actions, some of which assert or may assert claims or seek to impose fines and penalties. We believe that any liability that may arise as a result of other pending legal actions will not have a material effect on our consolidated financial condition or results of operations.

 

Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures

Information regarding the Company’s mine safety violations and other legal matters disclosed in accordance with Section 1503 (a) of the Dodd-Frank Reform Act is included in Exhibit 95 to this Form 10-K.

Executive Officers of the Registrant

Following is a list of the Registrant’s named executive officers:

 

Name

   Age   

Position with Registrant

   Since  

Warren E. Buffett

   86    Chairman of the Board      1970  

Charles T. Munger

   93    Vice Chairman of the Board      1978  

Each executive officer serves, in accordance with the by-laws of the Registrant, until the first meeting of the Board of Directors following the next annual meeting of shareholders and until a successor is chosen and qualified or until such executive officer sooner dies, resigns, is removed or becomes disqualified. Mr. Buffett and Mr. Munger also serve as directors of the Registrant.

Part II

 

Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Security Holder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

Market Information

Berkshire’s Class A and Class B common stock are listed for trading on the New York Stock Exchange, trading symbol: BRK.A and BRK.B. The following table sets forth the high and low sales prices per share, as reported on the New York Stock Exchange Composite List during the periods indicated:

 

     2016      2015  
     Class A      Class B      Class A      Class B  
     High      Low      High      Low      High      Low      High      Low  

First Quarter

   $ 215,130      $ 186,900      $ 143.40      $ 123.55      $ 227,500      $ 215,151      $ 151.69      $ 142.50  

Second Quarter

     221,985        205,074        148.03        136.65        223,012        204,800        148.57        136.08  

Third Quarter

     226,490        211,500        151.05        140.95        217,100        190,007        144.69        125.50  

Fourth Quarter

     250,786        213,030        167.25        141.92        207,780        192,200        138.62        127.46  

Shareholders

Berkshire had approximately 2,300 record holders of its Class A common stock and 20,200 record holders of its Class B common stock at February 15, 2017. Record owners included nominees holding at least 430,000 shares of Class A common stock and 1,300,000,000 shares of Class B common stock on behalf of beneficial-but-not-of-record owners.

Dividends

Berkshire has not declared a cash dividend since 1967.

Common Stock Repurchase Program

Berkshire’s Board of Directors (“Berkshire’s Board”) has approved a common stock repurchase program under which Berkshire may repurchase its Class A and Class B shares at prices no higher than a 20% premium over the book value of the shares. Berkshire may repurchase shares in the open market or through privately negotiated transactions. Berkshire’s Board authorization does not specify a maximum number of shares to be repurchased. However, repurchases will not be made if they would reduce the total value of Berkshire’s consolidated cash, cash equivalents and U.S. Treasury Bills holdings below $20 billion. The repurchase program does not obligate Berkshire to repurchase any dollar amount or number of Class A or Class B shares and there is no expiration date to the program. There were no share repurchases under the program in 2016.

 

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Item 6. Selected Financial Data

Selected Financial Data for the Past Five Years

(dollars in millions except per-share data)

 

    

2016

    

2015

    

2014

    

2013

    

2012

 

Revenues:

              

Insurance premiums earned

   $ 45,881      $ 41,294      $ 41,253      $ 36,684      $ 34,545  

Sales and service revenues

     119,489        107,001        97,097        92,993        81,447  

Railroad, utilities and energy revenues

     37,542        40,004        40,690        34,757        32,582  

Interest, dividend and other investment income

     4,725        5,357        5,052        5,196        4,532  

Finance and financial products sales and service revenues and interest and dividend income

     7,663        6,940        6,526        6,109        5,932  

Investment and derivative gains/losses

     8,304        10,347        4,081        6,673        3,425  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total revenues

   $ 223,604      $ 210,943      $ 194,699      $ 182,412      $ 162,463  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Earnings:

              

Net earnings attributable to Berkshire Hathaway (1)

   $ 24,074      $ 24,083      $ 19,872      $ 19,476      $ 14,824  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Net earnings per share attributable to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders (2)

   $ 14,645      $ 14,656      $ 12,092      $ 11,850      $ 8,977  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Year-end data:

              

Total assets

   $ 620,854      $ 552,257      $ 525,867      $ 484,624      $ 427,252  

Notes payable and other borrowings:

              

Insurance and other

     27,175        14,599        11,854        12,396        12,970  

Railroad, utilities and energy

     59,085        57,739        55,306        46,399        35,979  

Finance and financial products

     15,384        11,951        12,730        13,122        13,587  

Berkshire Hathaway shareholders’ equity

     283,001        255,550        240,170        221,890        187,647  

Class A equivalent common shares outstanding, in thousands

     1,644        1,643        1,643        1,644        1,643  

Berkshire Hathaway shareholders’ equity per outstanding Class A equivalent common share

   $ 172,108      $ 155,501      $ 146,186      $ 134,973      $ 114,214  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

(1) 

Includes after-tax investment and derivative gains/losses of $6.5 billion in 2016, $6.7 billion in 2015, $3.3 billion in 2014, $4.3 billion in 2013 and $2.2 billion in 2012.

 

(2) 

Represents net earnings per equivalent Class A common share. Net earnings per Class B common share is equal to 1/1,500 of such amount.

 

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Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

Results of Operations

Net earnings attributable to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders for each of the past three years are disaggregated in the table that follows. Amounts are after deducting income taxes and exclude earnings attributable to noncontrolling interests (in millions).

 

     2016      2015      2014  

Insurance – underwriting

   $ 1,370      $ 1,162      $ 1,692  

Insurance – investment income

     3,636        3,725        3,542  

Railroad

     3,569        4,248        3,869  

Utilities and energy

     2,287        2,132        1,882  

Manufacturing, service and retailing

     5,631        4,683        4,468  

Finance and financial products

     1,427        1,378        1,243  

Investment and derivative gains/losses

     6,497        6,725        3,321  

Other

     (343      30        (145
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Net earnings attributable to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders

   $ 24,074      $ 24,083      $ 19,872  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Through our subsidiaries, we engage in a number of diverse business activities. We manage our operating businesses on an unusually decentralized basis. There are essentially no centralized or integrated business functions (such as sales, marketing, purchasing, legal or human resources) and there is minimal involvement by our corporate headquarters in the day-to-day business activities of the operating businesses. Our senior corporate management team participates in and is ultimately responsible for significant capital allocation decisions, investment activities and the selection of the Chief Executive to head each of the operating businesses. It also is responsible for establishing and monitoring Berkshire’s corporate governance practices, including, but not limited to, communicating the appropriate “tone at the top” messages to employees and associates, monitoring governance efforts, including those at the operating businesses, and participating in the resolution of governance-related issues as needed. The business segment data (Note 23 to the accompanying Consolidated Financial Statements) should be read in conjunction with this discussion.

Our insurance businesses generated after-tax earnings from underwriting of $1.4 billion in 2016, an increase of $208 million from 2015, primarily due to increased earnings from Berkshire Hathaway Reinsurance Group and General Re, partly offset by lower net underwriting gains from primary insurance. Our railroad business generated lower net earnings in 2016, primarily due to a 5.0% decline in unit volume. Earnings of our utilities and energy businesses increased in 2016, attributable to increased pre-tax earnings and a lower effective income tax rate. The increase in after-tax earnings in 2016 as compared to 2015 of our manufacturing, service and retailing businesses was primarily due to earnings from PCC, partly offset by comparatively lower overall earnings from the other businesses within this group.

Our insurance businesses generated after-tax earnings from underwriting of $1.2 billion in 2015, a decline of $530 million from 2014, which reflected rising claim costs at GEICO and lower earnings from our reinsurers, partially offset by increased earnings from our other primary insurance operations. Our railroad business generated a 9.8% increase in after-tax earnings in 2015 compared to 2014, reflecting improved service levels and lower fuel costs. After-tax earnings of our utilities and energy businesses in 2015 increased 13.3% over 2014, attributable to the acquisition of AltaLink in December 2014 and higher earnings from several of our other energy businesses. After-tax earnings of our manufacturing, service and retailing businesses in 2015 increased 4.8% over 2014. The positive impacts of business acquisitions and higher earnings from our building products businesses were partly offset by lower earnings from certain of our industrial products and service businesses.

After-tax investment and derivative gains were approximately $6.5 billion in 2016, $6.7 billion in 2015 and $3.3 billion in 2014. After-tax investment gains in 2016 included approximately $2.7 billion from the disposition or conversion of our Wrigley, Kraft Heinz and Dow preferred stock investments and non-cash gains of approximately $1.9 billion related to the exchange of P&G common stock for 100% of the common stock of Duracell. After-tax investment and derivative gains in 2015 included non-cash holding gains of approximately $4.4 billion in connection with our investment in Kraft Heinz common stock. In 2014, after-tax gains included approximately $2.0 billion related to the exchanges of Phillips 66 common stock and Graham Holdings Company common stock for a specified subsidiary of each of those companies. Derivative contracts contributed after-tax gains of $488 million in 2016, $633 million in 2015 and $329 million in 2014. We believe that investment and derivative gains/losses are often meaningless in terms of understanding our reported results or evaluating our economic performance. Investment and derivative gains and losses have caused and will likely continue to cause significant volatility in our periodic earnings.

 

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Table of Contents

Management’s Discussion and Analysis (Continued)

 

 

Insurance—Underwriting

We engage in both primary insurance and reinsurance of property/casualty, life and health risks. In primary insurance activities, we assume defined portions of the risks of loss from persons or organizations that are directly subject to the risks. In reinsurance activities, we assume defined portions of similar or dissimilar risks that other insurers or reinsurers have subjected themselves to in their own insuring activities. Our insurance and reinsurance businesses are GEICO, General Re, Berkshire Hathaway Reinsurance Group (“BHRG”) and Berkshire Hathaway Primary Group.

Our management views insurance businesses as possessing two distinct operations – underwriting and investing. Underwriting decisions are the responsibility of the unit managers; investing decisions, with limited exceptions, are the responsibility of Berkshire’s Chairman and CEO, Warren E. Buffett. Accordingly, we evaluate performance of underwriting operations without any allocation of investment income or investment gains/losses.

The timing and amount of catastrophe losses can produce significant volatility in our periodic underwriting results, particularly with respect to BHRG and General Re. Our periodic underwriting results may be affected significantly by changes in estimates for unpaid losses and loss adjustment expenses, including amounts established for occurrences in prior years. Actual claim settlements and revised loss estimates will develop over time, which will likely differ from the liabilities recorded as of year-end 2016 of approximately $76.9 billion. Accordingly, the unpaid loss estimates recorded as of December 31, 2016 will develop upward or downward in future periods, producing a corresponding decrease or increase to pre-tax earnings.

Our periodic underwriting results may also include significant foreign currency transaction gains and losses arising from the changes in the valuation of non-U.S. Dollar denominated reinsurance liabilities of our U.S. based insurance subsidiaries as a result of foreign currency exchange rate fluctuations. Foreign currency exchange rates can be volatile and the resulting impact on our underwriting earnings can be relatively significant.

Underwriting results of our insurance businesses are summarized below (in millions).

 

     2016      2015      2014  

Underwriting gain attributable to:

        

GEICO

   $ 462      $ 460      $ 1,159  

General Re

     190        132        277  

Berkshire Hathaway Reinsurance Group

     822        421        606  

Berkshire Hathaway Primary Group

     657        824        626  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Pre-tax underwriting gain

     2,131        1,837        2,668  

Income taxes and noncontrolling interests

     761        675        976  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Net underwriting gain

   $ 1,370      $ 1,162      $ 1,692  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

GEICO

GEICO writes private passenger automobile insurance, offering coverages to insureds in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. GEICO’s policies are marketed mainly by direct response methods in which most customers apply for coverage directly to the company via the Internet or over the telephone. GEICO’s underwriting results are summarized below (in millions).

 

     2016      2015      2014  
     Amount      %      Amount      %      Amount      %  

Premiums written

   $ 26,309         $ 23,378         $ 20,962     
  

 

 

       

 

 

       

 

 

    

Premiums earned

   $ 25,483        100.0      $ 22,718        100.0      $ 20,496        100.0  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Losses and loss adjustment expenses

     21,044        82.6        18,647        82.1        15,924        77.7  

Underwriting expenses

     3,977        15.6        3,611        15.9        3,413        16.6  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total losses and expenses

     25,021        98.2        22,258        98.0        19,337        94.3  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Pre-tax underwriting gain

   $ 462         $ 460         $ 1,159     
  

 

 

       

 

 

       

 

 

    

 

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Table of Contents

Management’s Discussion and Analysis (Continued)

 

Insurance—Underwriting (Continued)

 

Premiums written in 2016 increased 12.5% to $26.3 billion and premiums earned increased approximately $2.8 billion (12.2%) compared to 2015. These increases reflected voluntary auto policy-in-force growth of 7% and increased average premiums per auto policy resulting from rate increases, changes in coverage and state and risk mix. Voluntary auto new business sales in 2016 increased 10.9% compared to the prior year. The growth in voluntary auto new business accelerated over the last half of 2016 and, for the year, voluntary auto policies-in-force increased 974,000.

Losses and loss adjustment expenses incurred in 2016 increased $2.4 billion (12.9%) to $21.0 billion. In 2016, our loss ratio (the ratio of losses and loss adjustment expenses to earned premiums) increased 0.5 percentage points, reflecting increased storm losses and claims severity, partly offset by the aforementioned premium rate increases. Claims frequencies (claim counts per exposure unit) in 2016 for property damage, collision, bodily injury and personal injury protection (PIP) coverages were relatively unchanged from 2015. Average claims severities were higher in 2016 for bodily injury, physical damage and collision coverages (four to six percent range). In addition, storm-related losses (primarily from hail and flooding) in 2016 were approximately $423 million compared to $162 million in 2015.

Underwriting expenses in 2016 were $4.0 billion, an increase of $366 million (10.1%) over 2015. Our expense ratio (underwriting expenses to premiums earned) in 2016 decreased 0.3 percentage points compared to 2015. The largest components of underwriting expenses are employee-related expenses (salaries and benefits) and advertising costs. The increase in underwriting expenses reflected the increase in policies-in-force.

Premiums written and earned in 2015 increased 11.5% and 10.8% over 2014. The increases in premiums reflected growth in voluntary auto policies-in-force (5.4%) and rate increases. Voluntary auto new business sales in 2015 exceeded 2014 by about 1%. In 2015, our voluntary auto policies-in-force grew by 707,000 policies.

Losses and loss adjustment expenses incurred in 2015 increased $2.7 billion (17.1%) over 2014. Our loss ratio was 82.1% in 2015 compared to 77.7% in 2014. Claims frequencies in 2015 increased in all major coverages over 2014, including property damage and collision coverages (three to five percent range), bodily injury coverage (four to six percent range) and PIP (one to two percent range). Average claims severities were also higher in 2015 for property damage and collision coverages (four to five percent range), bodily injury coverage (six to seven percent range) and PIP coverage (two to four percent range). We attributed these increases to miles driven, repair costs (parts and labor) and medical costs, as well as to weather conditions.

Underwriting expenses in 2015 increased 5.8% to $3.6 billion. During 2015, advertising and employee-related costs grew at a slower rate than premiums. As a result, our expense ratio in 2015 declined 0.7 percentage points compared to 2014.

General Re

General Re conducts a reinsurance business offering property and casualty coverages to clients worldwide through General Reinsurance Corporation, Germany-based General Reinsurance AG, Faraday Holdings in London and other wholly-owned affiliates. We write property and casualty reinsurance primarily on a direct basis, but is also written through brokers and intermediaries. We write life and health reinsurance primarily on a direct basis through General Re Life Corporation and General Reinsurance AG. We strive to generate underwriting profits in essentially all of our product lines. Our management does not evaluate underwriting performance based upon market share and our underwriters are instructed to reject inadequately priced risks. General Re’s underwriting results are summarized in the following table (in millions).

 

     Premiums written      Premiums earned      Pre-tax underwriting gain (loss)  
     2016      2015      2014      2016      2015      2014          2016              2015             2014      

Property/casualty

   $ 2,560      $ 2,725      $ 3,257      $ 2,569      $ 2,805      $ 3,103      $ 117      $ 150     $ 204  

Life/health

     3,069        3,165        3,161        3,068        3,170        3,161        73        (18     73  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

 
   $ 5,629      $ 5,890      $ 6,418      $ 5,637      $ 5,975      $ 6,264      $ 190      $ 132     $ 277  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

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Table of Contents

Management’s Discussion and Analysis (Continued)

 

Insurance—Underwriting (Continued)

 

Property/casualty

In 2016, property/casualty premiums written declined $165 million (6%) and premiums earned declined $236 million (8%) compared to 2015, primarily due to lower volume in direct and broker market business, and to a lesser degree, unfavorable foreign currency exchange rate changes. Insurance industry capacity remains high and price competition in most property/casualty reinsurance markets persists. We continue to decline business when we believe prices are inadequate. However, we remain prepared to write substantially more business when appropriate prices can be attained.

Our property/casualty business produced pre-tax underwriting gains of $117 million in 2016 and $150 million in 2015. Results included pre-tax underwriting gains from property business of $211 million in 2016, a decline of $78 million compared to 2015. The decline was primarily due to lower gains from reductions of estimated losses on prior years’ property business. There were no significant catastrophe or large property losses in each of the past three years.

Our casualty/workers’ compensation business produced pre-tax underwriting losses of $94 million in 2016 and $139 million in 2015. Underwriting results in each year included net losses on current year business and charges for recurring discount accretion on workers’ compensation liabilities and deferred charge amortization on retroactive reinsurance contracts, partially offset by gains from reductions of estimated losses on prior years’ business. Discount accretion and deferred charge amortization produced pre-tax underwriting losses of $89 million in 2016 and $94 million in 2015. Casualty losses tend to be long-tailed and the favorable loss experience is not a guarantee that the current ultimate liability estimates will develop favorably in the future.

In 2015, property/casualty premiums written declined $532 million (16%), while premiums earned decreased $298 million (10%) compared to 2014. Adjusting for changes in foreign currency exchange rates, premiums written and earned in 2015 declined 9% and 2% compared to 2014. Our premium volume declined in both the direct and broker markets worldwide.

Our property/casualty business produced pre-tax underwriting gains of $150 million in 2015 and $204 million in 2014. In 2015, our property business generated pre-tax underwriting gains of $289 million compared to $445 million in 2014. The comparative decrease in underwriting gains reflected an increase in the current accident year loss ratio, primarily attributable to a relative increase in reported losses. Our casualty/workers’ compensation business produced pre-tax underwriting losses of $139 million in 2015 and $241 million in 2014. Underwriting results in each year included net losses on current year business, partly offset by gains from reductions of estimated losses on prior years’ business. The reductions of prior years’ losses were net of recurring charges for discount accretion on workers’ compensation liabilities and deferred charge amortization on retroactive reinsurance contracts of $94 million in 2015 and $97 million in 2014.

Life/health

Life/health premiums earned in 2016 decreased 3% compared to 2015. Adjusting for changes in foreign currency exchange rates, premiums earned in 2016 were relatively unchanged from 2015, as growth in the United Kingdom and Asia markets was offset by a decline in Canada. Our life/health business produced pre-tax underwriting gains of $73 million in 2016 compared to losses of $18 million in 2015. In 2016, underwriting results reflected increased underwriting gains from our international life business, lower claim severity in North America, and lower losses from changes in actuarial assumptions related to long-term care business.

Life/health premiums written and earned in 2015 were relatively unchanged from 2014. However, adjusting for changes in foreign currency exchange rates, premiums earned in 2015 increased $266 million (8%) as compared to 2014. In 2015, life business increased across a number of non-U.S. markets, particularly in Canada and Asia. Our life/health business produced aggregate pre-tax underwriting losses in 2015 of $18 million compared to gains of $73 million in 2014. Our North American long-term care business generated increased underwriting losses of $77 million in 2015 compared to 2014 due primarily to increased reserves from estimated premium deficiencies. We also experienced higher frequency and severity of losses in North American individual life business in 2015, partially offset by increased underwriting gains from international life business.

 

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Table of Contents

Management’s Discussion and Analysis (Continued)

 

Insurance—Underwriting (Continued)

 

Berkshire Hathaway Reinsurance Group

BHRG underwrites excess-of-loss reinsurance and quota-share coverages on property and casualty risks for insurers and reinsurers worldwide, including property catastrophe insurance and reinsurance. BHRG also writes retroactive reinsurance on property/casualty exposures as well as life reinsurance and periodic payment annuity business. A summary of BHRG’s underwriting results follows (in millions).

 

    Premiums written     Premiums earned     Pre-tax underwriting gain (loss)  
    2016     2015     2014     2016     2015     2014         2016             2015             2014      

Property/casualty

  $ 4,433     $ 4,702     $ 4,097     $ 4,649     $ 4,416     $ 4,064     $ 767     $ 944     $ 1,411  

Retroactive reinsurance

    1,254       5       3,371       1,254       5       3,371       (49     (469     (632

Life and annuity

    2,601       2,786       2,681       2,601       2,786       2,681       104       (54     (173
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 
  $ 8,288     $ 7,493     $ 10,149     $ 8,504     $ 7,207     $ 10,116     $ 822     $ 421     $ 606  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Property/casualty

Premiums earned in 2016 increased $233 million (5.3%) reflecting an increase from the 10-year, 20% quota-share contract with Insurance Australia Group Ltd. (“IAG”), which became effective on July 1, 2015, partly offset by declines from property catastrophe and other quota-share business. The IAG quota-share contract represented 37% of our property/casualty earned premiums in 2016. Our premium volume is generally constrained for most property/casualty reinsurance coverages as rates, in our view, are generally inadequate. Consistent with General Re, we have the capacity and desire to write more business when appropriate pricing can be attained.

Our property/casualty business generated pre-tax underwriting gains of $767 million in 2016 and $944 million in 2015. The decline in pre-tax underwriting gains in 2016 was primarily due to a comparative decline in gains from reductions of estimated prior years’ loss reserves. We experienced no significant catastrophe loss events during the last three years.

Premiums written and earned in 2015 increased $605 million (15%) and $352 million (9%), respectively, compared to 2014. These increases were primarily attributable to the IAG quota-share contract, partially offset by lower property catastrophe, property quota-share and London facilities volume. The property/casualty business generated pre-tax underwriting gains in 2015 of $944 million compared to $1.4 billion in 2014. Underwriting results in 2015 included comparatively lower gains from property catastrophe reinsurance and comparatively lower gains from reductions of estimated prior years’ loss reserves.

Retroactive reinsurance

We periodically write retroactive reinsurance contracts, which provide indemnification of losses and loss adjustment expenses with respect to past loss events. Retroactive reinsurance premiums earned in 2016 primarily derived from three new contracts, including $670 million from a contract with Hartford Fire Insurance Company covering the adverse development of certain asbestos and pollution claims losses, subject to an aggregate limit of $1.5 billion. Premiums earned in 2014 included $3 billion from a contract with Liberty Mutual Insurance Company (“LMIC”), which covers claim liabilities from specified asbestos and environmental exposures under policies incepting before 2005, and workers’ compensation occurrences arising before 2014.

Pre-tax underwriting results from certain retroactive reinsurance contracts include gains/losses associated with the re-measurement of foreign currency denominated liabilities due to changes in exchange rates. Such gains were $392 million in 2016, $150 million in 2015 and $273 million in 2014 and primarily related to strengthening of the U.S. Dollar versus the Great Britain Pound (“GBP”) and the Euro. Before such gains, retroactive reinsurance contracts produced pre-tax losses of $441 million in 2016, $619 million in 2015 and $905 million in 2014, attributable to deferred charge amortization and changes in the timing and amount of ultimate losses.

The underwriting results of retroactive reinsurance include the periodic amortization of deferred charge assets established in connection with these contracts. At the inception of a contract, we recognize deferred charge assets for the excess, if any, of the estimated ultimate losses payable over the premiums earned. We subsequently amortize the deferred charges over the estimated claims payment period based on estimates of the timing and amount of future loss payments. Amortization charges and deferred charge adjustments resulting from changes to the estimated timing and amount of future loss payments are included in earnings.

 

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Table of Contents

Management’s Discussion and Analysis (Continued)

 

Insurance—Underwriting (Continued)

Berkshire Hathaway Reinsurance Group (Continued)

Retroactive reinsurance (Continued)

 

Changes in estimated ultimate liabilities for contracts written in prior years were relatively insignificant in 2016, whereas during each of the prior two years, we increased estimated ultimate liabilities approximately $550 million in 2015 and $825 million in 2014 for contracts written in prior years. We also reevaluated the timing of future payments of remaining liabilities, which produced changes to unamortized deferred charges. These increases in estimated ultimate liabilities, net of related deferred charge adjustments, produced incremental pre-tax underwriting losses of approximately $90 million in 2015 and $450 million in 2014.

As discussed in Note 25 to the accompanying Consolidated Financial Statements, we entered into a retroactive reinsurance agreement with affiliates of American International Group, Inc. (collectively, “AIG”) in January 2017. Our premiums with respect to this contract are about $10 billion and our net aggregate limit is $20 billion.

Gross unpaid losses assumed under retroactive reinsurance contracts were approximately $24.7 billion at December 31, 2016 and $23.7 billion at December 31, 2015. Unamortized deferred charges related to such reinsurance contracts were approximately $8.0 billion at December 31, 2016 and $7.6 billion at December 31, 2015. We currently estimate pre-tax losses in 2017 from deferred charge amortization of approximately $950 million, including approximately $375 million related to the new AIG agreement.

Life and annuity

A summary BHRG’s life and annuity underwriting results follows (in millions).

 

     Premiums earned      Pre-tax underwriting gain (loss)  
     2016      2015      2014          2016             2015             2014      

Periodic payment annuity

   $ 1,082      $ 1,286      $ 1,105      $ (128   $ (202   $ (197

Life reinsurance

     1,502        1,481        1,555        1       (45     (23

Variable annuity

     17        19        21        231       193       47  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 
   $ 2,601      $ 2,786      $ 2,681      $ 104     $ (54   $ (173
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Premiums earned in 2016 from periodic payment annuity contracts decreased $204 million (15.9%) compared to 2015. The decrease reflected the effect of a large reinsurance contract in 2015 that generated premiums of $425 million, which more than offset a comparative increase in direct business. There were no periodic payment annuity reinsurance contracts in 2016.

Generally, we receive premiums under periodic payment annuity contracts in full at inception and we make annuity payments over time, often extending for decades. At inception, we discount annuity liabilities for time value and recognize no gains or losses in earnings. Pre-tax underwriting losses are recognized over the annuity payment period from the recurring accretion of discounted annuity liabilities.

Periodic payment annuity contracts generated pre-tax underwriting losses of $128 million in 2016, $202 million in 2015 and $197 million in 2014. Liabilities under certain contracts of a U.S. subsidiary are denominated in foreign currencies, most significantly the GBP. Changes in the exchange rates produce changes in the values of related liabilities, which are reflected in underwriting results. Exchange rate changes resulted in pre-tax gains of $313 million in 2016, $103 million in 2015 and $102 million in 2014.

Before foreign currency exchange rate changes, pre-tax underwriting losses from annuity contracts were $441 million in 2016, $305 million in 2015 and $299 million in 2014. The increase in underwriting losses in 2016 reflected increased liabilities from new business and the impact of lower interest rates, which increased expected future loss payments under reinsurance contracts. Discounted annuity liabilities were approximately $9.8 billion at December 31, 2016 and $8.7 billion at December 31, 2015. The weighted average interest rate of these contracts was approximately 4.1% as of December 31, 2016.

 

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Table of Contents

Management’s Discussion and Analysis (Continued)

 

Insurance—Underwriting (Continued)

Berkshire Hathaway Reinsurance Group (Continued)

Life and annuity (Continued)

 

Life reinsurance premiums increased 1.4% in 2016 compared to 2015, which declined 4.8% compared to 2014. The life reinsurance business produced near break-even results in 2016 and a pre-tax loss of $45 million in 2015. Underwriting losses in 2015 included losses of $53 million incurred in connection with certain terminated business.

Our variable annuity business primarily consists of reinsurance contracts that provide guarantees on closed blocks of variable annuity business written by other insurers. Our pre-tax underwriting gains in each period of the past three years reflected changes in liabilities for guaranteed benefits, which were affected by changes in securities markets and interest rates, as well as from the periodic amortization of expected profit margins included in our liability estimates.

Berkshire Hathaway Primary Group

The Berkshire Hathaway Primary Group (“BH Primary”) consists of a wide variety of independently managed insurance underwriting businesses that primarily provide a variety of commercial insurance solutions, including healthcare malpractice, workers’ compensation, automobile, general liability, property and various specialty coverages for small, medium and large clients. The largest of these insurers include the MedPro Group, National Indemnity Company (“NICO Primary”), Berkshire Hathaway Homestate Companies (“BHHC”), Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance (“BH Specialty”) and Berkshire Hathaway GUARD Insurance Companies (“GUARD”). Other BH Primary insurers include U.S. Liability Insurance Company, Applied Underwriters and Central States Indemnity Company.

 

     2016      2015      2014  
     Amount      %      Amount      %      Amount      %  

Premiums written

   $ 6,684         $ 5,906         $ 4,904     
  

 

 

       

 

 

       

 

 

    

Premiums earned

   $ 6,257        100.0      $ 5,394        100.0      $ 4,377        100.0  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Losses and loss adjustment expenses

     3,864        61.8        3,070        56.9        2,608        59.6  

Underwriting expenses

     1,736        27.7        1,500        27.8        1,143        26.1  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total losses and expenses

     5,600        89.5        4,570        84.7        3,751        85.7  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Pre-tax underwriting gain

   $ 657         $ 824         $ 626     
  

 

 

       

 

 

       

 

 

    

BH Primary premiums written and earned in 2016 increased 13.2% and 16.0%, respectively, compared to 2015. The increases were primarily attributable to volume increases from BH Specialty, MedPro Group, BHHC and GUARD. Premiums written and earned in 2015 increased 20.4% and 23.2%, respectively, over the prior year. The increases were primarily attributable to volume increases from BH Specialty, NICO Primary, BHHC and GUARD. BH Primary’s combined loss ratios were 61.8% in 2016, 56.9% in 2015 and 59.6% in 2014. The comparative increase in the loss ratio in 2016 reflected comparative declines in favorable loss development of prior years’ loss events and higher loss ratios on current year business. While our claims development has been favorable in recent years, our primary insurers write considerable amounts of healthcare malpractice, general liability and workers’ compensation business, which can have extended claim-tails. It should not be assumed that the current claim experience or underwriting results will continue into the future.

Insurance—Investment Income

A summary of net investment income generated from investments held by our insurance operations follows (in millions).

 

     2016      2015      2014  

Interest income

   $ 930      $ 888      $ 1,009  

Dividend income

     3,552        3,662        3,348  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Investment income before taxes and noncontrolling interests

     4,482        4,550        4,357  

Income taxes and noncontrolling interests

     846        825        815  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Net investment income

   $ 3,636      $ 3,725      $ 3,542  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

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Table of Contents

Management’s Discussion and Analysis (Continued)

 

Insurance—Investment Income (Continued)

 

Pre-tax investment income declined $68 million (1.5%) in 2016 compared to 2015, reflecting lower dividend income attributable to portfolio changes, partly offset by an increase in interest income. We continue to hold significant cash, cash equivalents and U.S. Treasury Bills earning very low yields, although such yields in 2016 were higher than in 2015. We believe that maintaining ample liquidity is paramount and we insist on safety over yield with respect to such balances. In December 2016, Dow exercised its option to convert our $3 billion Dow preferred stock investment into common stock. Prior to its conversion, we received dividends of $255 million per annum.

Interest earned declined $121 million (12%) in 2015 versus 2014. The reduction reflected the maturities and dispositions of fixed maturity securities with higher interest rates. Dividend income increased $314 million (9%) in 2015 versus 2014. Dividend income in 2015 included income from our investment in Restaurant Brands International, Inc. 9% Preferred Stock ($3 billion stated value), which was acquired in December 2014.

Invested assets of our insurance businesses derive from shareholder capital, including reinvested earnings, and from net liabilities under insurance contracts or “float.” The major components of float are unpaid losses, life, annuity and health benefit liabilities, unearned premiums and other liabilities to policyholders less premium and reinsurance receivables, deferred charges assumed under retroactive reinsurance contracts and deferred policy acquisition costs. Float approximated $91 billion at December 31, 2016, $88 billion at December 31, 2015 and $84 billion at December 31, 2014. The cost of float was negative over the last three years as our insurance business generated pre-tax underwriting gains in each year.

A summary of cash and investments held in our insurance businesses as of December 31, 2016 and 2015 follows (in millions).

 

     December 31,  
     2016      2015  

Cash, cash equivalents and U.S. Treasury Bills

   $ 48,888      $ 43,762  

Equity securities

     119,780        109,922  

Fixed maturity securities

     22,778        23,621  

Other investments

     14,364        15,683  
  

 

 

    

 

 

 
   $ 205,810      $ 192,988  
  

 

 

    

 

 

 

Fixed maturity investments as of December 31, 2016 were as follows (in millions).

 

     Amortized
cost
     Unrealized
gains/losses
     Carrying
value
 

U.S. Treasury, U.S. government corporations and agencies

   $ 4,243      $ 8      $ 4,251  

States, municipalities and political subdivisions

     1,129        57        1,186  

Foreign governments

     8,813        140        8,953  

Corporate bonds, investment grade

     5,457        459        5,916  

Corporate bonds, non-investment grade

     1,220        248        1,468  

Mortgage-backed securities

     886        118        1,004  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 
   $ 21,748      $ 1,030      $ 22,778  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

U.S. government obligations are rated AA+ or Aaa by the major rating agencies and approximately 87% of all state, municipal and political subdivisions, foreign government obligations and mortgage-backed securities were rated AA or higher. Non-investment grade securities represent securities rated below BBB- or Baa3. Foreign government securities include obligations issued or unconditionally guaranteed by national or provincial government entities.

 

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Table of Contents

Management’s Discussion and Analysis (Continued)

 

Railroad (“Burlington Northern Santa Fe”)

Burlington Northern Santa Fe, LLC (“BNSF”) operates one of the largest railroad systems in North America. BNSF operates approximately 32,500 route miles of track in 28 states and also operates in three Canadian provinces. BNSF’s major business groups are classified by type of product shipped and include consumer products, coal, industrial products and agricultural products. A summary of BNSF’s earnings follows (in millions).

 

     2016      2015      2014  

Revenues

   $ 19,829      $ 21,967      $ 23,239  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Operating expenses:

        

Compensation and benefits

     4,769        5,043        5,023  

Fuel

     1,934        2,656        4,478  

Purchased services

     2,418        2,546        2,592  

Depreciation and amortization

     2,128        2,001        2,123  

Equipment rents, materials and other

     1,895        2,018        2,021  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total operating expenses

     13,144        14,264        16,237  

Interest expense

     992        928        833  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 
     14,136        15,192        17,070  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Pre-tax earnings

     5,693        6,775        6,169  

Income taxes

     2,124        2,527        2,300  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Net earnings

   $ 3,569      $ 4,248      $ 3,869  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Consolidated revenues were approximately $19.8 billion in 2016, a decrease of $2.1 billion (9.7%) compared to 2015. Pre-tax earnings were $5.7 billion in 2016, a decrease of $1.1 billion (16.0%) compared to 2015. Our total volume was approximately 9.8 million cars/units in 2016 compared to approximately 10.3 million in 2015. In 2016, we experienced declining demand, especially in our coal and crude oil categories. Coal had the largest decline, driven by structural changes in that business as well as competition from low natural gas prices. While natural gas prices and the amount of electricity burn will affect the demand for coal in 2017, our long-term demand outlook for U.S. and global coal consumption is lower.

Freight revenues reflected comparative declines in 2016 in average revenue per car/unit (5.2%) and volumes (5.0%). The decrease in average revenue per car/unit was primarily attributable to lower fuel surcharge revenue driven by lower fuel prices and to business mix changes. The fuel price impact on fuel surcharges generally lags its impact on fuel costs.

Freight revenues from consumer products were $6.5 billion in 2016, a decline of 0.9% from 2015. The revenue decline reflected lower average revenue per car/unit, partially offset by volume increases of 1%. Consumer products volumes increased primarily due to higher domestic intermodal volumes and the addition of a new automotive customer. Lower international intermodal volumes attributable to soft economic activity and excess retail inventories partially offset these increases.

Freight revenues from industrial products were $4.8 billion in 2016, a decline of 14.2% compared with 2015. The decrease reflects lower volumes, primarily for petroleum products, reflecting pipeline displacement of U.S. crude rail traffic and lower U.S. oil production. In addition, there was lower demand for steel and taconite, partially offset by increased plastics products volume. We expect low oil production and pipeline displacement will continue to negatively impact the demand for crude oil shipments in 2017.

Freight revenues from agricultural products remained relatively flat at $4.2 billion. Agricultural product volume increased by 6.3% in 2016, primarily due to higher corn, soybean and wheat exports, offsetting a decrease in average revenue per car/unit.

Freight revenues from coal decreased 26.9% to $3.4 billion in 2016 compared to 2015, reflecting a 21.1% decline in volumes and lower average rate per car/unit. Demand for coal has declined due to reduced energy consumption, coal unit retirements, high coal stockpiles and low natural gas prices.

 

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Table of Contents

Management’s Discussion and Analysis (Continued)

 

Railroad (“Burlington Northern Santa Fe”) (Continued)

 

Operating expenses were $13.1 billion in 2016, a decrease of $1.1 billion (7.9%) compared to 2015, and our ratio of operating expenses to revenues increased 1.4 percentage points to 66.3%. Compensation and benefits expenses decreased $274 million (5.4%) compared to 2015. The decline was primarily due to lower employment levels resulting from lower freight volumes and productivity improvements, partially offset by inflation. Fuel expenses declined $722 million (27.2%) compared to 2015, due to lower average fuel prices and lower volumes. Purchased services declined $128 million (5.0%) due to lower volumes and cost reductions. Depreciation and amortization expense increased $127 million (6.3%) compared to 2015 due to increased assets in service reflecting our ongoing capital additions and improvement programs. Equipment rents, materials and other expense declined $123 million (6.1%) compared to 2015, primarily due to lower freight volumes and productivity improvements.

Interest expense was $992 million in 2016, an increase of $64 million (6.9%) compared to 2015. Interest expense in 2015 was $928 million, an increase of $95 million (11%) compared to 2014. BNSF funds its capital expenditures with cash flow from operations and new debt issuances. The comparative increases in each period resulted from higher average outstanding debt.

Consolidated revenues were approximately $22.0 billion in 2015, a decrease of $1.3 billion (5%) compared to 2014. Pre-tax earnings were $6.8 billion in 2015, an increase of $606 million (10%) over 2014. Results in 2015 benefitted from significantly improved operating performance compared to substandard service during 2014. The operational improvements in 2015 reflected the capacity added in 2014 and 2015 through capital investments for line expansion, system improvement projects, other operational initiatives and more favorable winter weather conditions. Our total volume was approximately 10.3 million cars/units in 2015. During the second half of 2015 and particularly in the fourth quarter, we experienced declining demand, especially in coal and certain industrial products categories.

The decrease in consolidated revenues in 2015 reflected a 6% decline in average revenue per car/unit and a 0.1% decrease in volume. The decrease in average revenue per car/unit was attributable to a 55% decline in fuel surcharges ($1.6 billion) versus 2014, primarily due to lower fuel prices. The impact of lower fuel surcharge revenues affected revenues of all product lines.

Freight revenues from industrial products decreased 11% in 2015 compared to 2014 to $5.6 billion. The decrease reflected lower volumes for petroleum products, frac sand and steel products and lower average revenue per car/unit. Freight revenues from agricultural products increased 2% in 2015 to approximately $4.2 billion as compared to revenues in 2014. The increase in 2015 was attributable to higher domestic grain shipments and milo exports.

Freight revenues from coal decreased 7% to $4.6 billion in 2015 compared to 2014. The revenue decline was primarily due to lower average rates per car. Coal volume increased 1% primarily due to higher demand in the early part of the year as customers restocked coal inventories.

Freight revenues from consumer products were $6.6 billion in 2015, a decline of 6% from 2014. The revenue decline reflected lower average rates per car/unit, partially offset by volume increases of 1%. In the first quarter of 2015, we experienced a decline in international intermodal volume attributable to diversions of freight from U.S. West Coast ports to other import gateways as a result of the port productivity slow-down from port labor disruptions. Over the remainder of 2015, we experienced increased volume, as port productivity improvements allowed the backlog to clear, as well as from higher demand.

Operating expenses were $14.3 billion in 2015, a decrease of $2 billion (12%) compared to 2014. The ratio of operating expenses to revenues declined 4.9 percentage points to 64.9% as compared to 2014. Compensation and benefits expenses were relatively flat versus 2014. In response to weakening customer demand in the latter half of 2015, employment levels were reduced. Fuel expenses declined $1.8 billion (41%) compared to 2014, reflecting significantly lower average fuel prices, improved efficiency and lower gross ton miles volume. Depreciation and amortization expense decreased $122 million (6%) compared to 2014 as a result of lower capitalized software amortization expenses, partially offset by increased depreciation expense attributable to increased levels of railroad assets in service.

Utilities and Energy (“Berkshire Hathaway Energy Company”)

We hold a 90% ownership interest in Berkshire Hathaway Energy Company (“BHE”), which operates a global energy business. BHE’s domestic regulated utility interests are comprised of PacifiCorp, MidAmerican Energy Company (“MEC”) and NV Energy. In Great Britain, BHE subsidiaries operate two regulated electricity distribution businesses referred to as Northern Powergrid. BHE also owns two domestic regulated interstate natural gas pipeline companies. Other energy businesses include AltaLink, L.P. (“AltaLink”), a regulated electricity transmission-only business in Alberta, Canada and a diversified portfolio of independent power projects. In addition, BHE also operates the second-largest residential real estate brokerage firm and one of the largest residential real estate brokerage franchise networks in the United States.

 

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Table of Contents

Management’s Discussion and Analysis (Continued)

 

Utilities and Energy (“Berkshire Hathaway Energy Company”) (Continued)

 

The rates our regulated businesses charge customers for energy and services are based, in large part, on the costs of business operations, including a return on capital, and are subject to regulatory approval. To the extent these operations are not allowed to include such costs in the approved rates, operating results will be adversely affected. Revenues and earnings of BHE are summarized below (in millions).

 

    Revenues     Earnings  
    2016     2015     2014     2016     2015     2014  

PacifiCorp

  $ 5,245     $ 5,279     $ 5,315     $ 1,105     $ 1,026     $ 1,010  

MidAmerican Energy Company

    2,668       2,554       2,900       392       292       270  

NV Energy

    2,925       3,382       3,279       559       586       549  

Northern Powergrid

    997       1,141       1,284       367       460       527  

Natural gas pipelines

    986       1,018       1,093       413       401       379  

Other energy businesses

    2,223       2,321       1,582       377       394       264  

Real estate brokerage

    2,815       2,536       2,161       225       191       139  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 
  $ 17,859     $ 18,231     $ 17,614        
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

       

Earnings before corporate interest and income taxes (“EBIT”)

          3,438       3,350       3,138  

Corporate interest

          465       499       427  

Income taxes and noncontrolling interests

          686       719       829  
       

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net earnings attributable to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders

        $ 2,287     $ 2,132     $ 1,882  
       

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

PacifiCorp

PacifiCorp operates a regulated electric utility in portions of several Western states, including Utah, Oregon and Wyoming. PacifiCorp’s revenues were $5.25 billion in 2016, slightly lower than 2015. Revenues reflected increased retail revenues and lower wholesale and other operating revenues. The increase in retail revenues was primarily due to higher retail rates as volumes were relatively unchanged. The declines in wholesale revenues were attributable to lower volumes and average prices. EBIT in 2016 increased $79 million (7.7%) from 2015, primarily due to increased gross margins (operating revenues less cost of sales), reflecting lower fuel prices and changes in fuel mix.

Revenues declined $36 million (1%) in 2015 compared to 2014. Wholesale and other revenues declined $129 million, principally due to lower wholesale prices and volumes and lower renewable energy credit revenue, while retail revenues increased compared to 2014, reflecting higher average rates partially offset by slightly lower volumes. EBIT increased $16 million (2%) in 2015 compared to 2014. Gross margins increased $109 million versus 2014, as energy costs declined more than revenues. The increase in gross margins substantially offset an increase in depreciation and amortization expense ($35 million) due to increased plant-in-service, lower allowances for equity funds used during construction ($18 million) and the impact of the recognition in 2014 of expected insurance recoveries on fire losses.

MidAmerican Energy Company

MEC operates a regulated electric and natural gas utility primarily in Iowa and Illinois. Revenues increased $114 million (4.5%) in 2016 compared to 2015. Revenues in 2016 included increased electric revenues ($148 million), which were somewhat offset by lower natural gas revenues ($24 million). The increase in electric revenues resulted primarily from a 3.8% increase in customer volumes and higher rates. Wholesale and other revenues increased primarily due to increased average wholesale prices and higher transmission revenue. The decline in natural gas revenues was primarily due to lower average per-unit costs of gas sold ($42 million), which is offset in cost of sales, partly offset by higher wholesale volumes. EBIT increased $100 million (34.2%) in 2016 from 2015. The increase in EBIT was primarily due to increased gross margins from electric revenues and lower operations and maintenance expenses, partially offset by higher depreciation and amortization from additional assets placed in service, and higher interest expense.

MEC’s revenues declined $346 million (12%) in 2015 from 2014. Regulated natural gas revenues declined $335 million, which was primarily attributable to lower average per-unit cost of gas sold, which is substantially offset in lower cost of sales. Regulated electric revenues increased slightly, due primarily to higher retail rates in Iowa and higher volumes, partially offset by lower average wholesale prices. The increases in regulated electric rates in Iowa are attributable to higher retail rates and changes in rate structure approved in August 2014, which results in a greater differential between higher rates from June to September and lower rates in the remaining months.

 

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Table of Contents

Management’s Discussion and Analysis (Continued)

 

Utilities and Energy (“Berkshire Hathaway Energy Company”) (Continued)

MidAmerican Energy Company (Continued)

 

EBIT increased $22 million (8%) in 2015 compared to 2014, reflecting an increase in gross margins ($107 million), partially offset by increases in depreciation expense from new wind generation and other plant-in-service ($56 million), interest expense ($17 million) and lower allowances for equity funds used during construction ($19 million). The increase in gross margins derived primarily from the regulated electric business, which benefitted from the aforementioned changes in Iowa rates and rate structure and lower fuel and purchased power costs. In addition, EBIT included a gain of $13 million in 2015 from the sale of a generating facility lease.

NV Energy

NV Energy operates regulated electric and natural gas utilities in Nevada. Revenues were approximately $2.9 billion in 2016, a decrease of $457 million (13.5%) versus 2015. The decline was primarily attributable to lower electric retail rates resulting from lower energy costs. Electric retail volumes in 2016 were flat compared to 2015. EBIT fell $27 million (4.6%) compared to 2015. The decline in revenues was substantially offset by a decline in energy costs. Operating expenses increased $39 million (4%) and interest expense decreased $17 million (6.6%). The increase in operating expenses reflected higher depreciation and amortization and reductions in certain accrued liabilities in 2015.

Revenues and EBIT were $3.4 billion and $586 million in 2015, representing increases of $103 million (3%) and $37 million (7%) over 2014. The increase in revenues was due primarily to higher retail electric revenues reflecting increased customers and higher volumes. The increase in EBIT was attributable to an increase in gross margins ($82 million) and lower interest expense ($22 million), partially offset by increased depreciation and amortization ($31 million) and higher other operating expenses, including increased energy efficiency costs.

Northern Powergrid

Revenues declined $144 million (12.6%) to $997 million in 2016, primarily due to the impact of a stronger U.S. Dollar ($127 million) and lower distribution revenues. EBIT declined $93 million (20.2%) to $367 million. The decline was due to lower distribution revenues and the stronger U.S. Dollar, as well as increases in depreciation expense from increased assets in service and higher asset impairment charges.

Revenues declined $143 million (11%) in 2015 versus 2014, reflecting the adverse impact of the stronger U.S. Dollar ($90 million) and comparatively lower distribution revenues. The decline in distribution revenues reflected lower rates due mainly to the new price control period effective April 1, 2015. EBIT declined $67 million (13%) compared to 2014, reflecting the adverse effects of the stronger U.S. Dollar and lower distribution revenues partially offset by lower interest expense ($13 million).

Natural Gas Pipelines

Revenues declined $32 million (3.1%) in 2016 as compared to 2015, primarily due to the impact of lower gas sales from balancing activities and lower transportation revenues from lower volumes and rates, in part due to comparatively milder temperatures in the first quarter of 2016. EBIT increased $12 million (3.0%) versus 2015, reflecting lower interest expense, resulting from lower average debt balances and lower operating expenses, partly offset by the lower transportation revenues.

Revenues declined $75 million (7%) in 2015 versus 2014, which was primarily due to lower gas sales as a result of reduced system and operational balancing activities, partially offset by higher transportation revenues. EBIT increased $22 million (6%) as compared to 2014, as decreased costs of gas sold and lower operating expenses more than offset the decline in revenues.

Other energy businesses

Revenues declined $98 million (4.2%) in 2016 compared to 2015. The decline in comparative revenues was principally attributable to lower revenues from AltaLink and from our unregulated retail services business. AltaLink’s year-to-date revenue decline reflected the impact of a regulatory decision in the second quarter of 2016 that resulted in one-time net reductions in revenue, which more than offset increased revenues from additional assets placed in service. The regulatory decision changed the timing of when construction-in-progress expenditures included in the rate base are billable to customers and earned in revenues, but had no impact on net earnings, as one-time reductions in expenses offset the one-time revenue reduction. EBIT declined $17 million (4.3%) compared to 2015, primarily due to lower earnings from our renewable energy businesses, primarily due to higher depreciation expense from additional assets placed in service.

 

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Management’s Discussion and Analysis (Continued)

 

Utilities and Energy (“Berkshire Hathaway Energy Company”) (Continued)

Other energy businesses (Continued)

 

Revenues of other energy businesses increased $739 million (46.7%) in 2015 over revenues in 2014, while EBIT increased $130 million (49%) versus 2014. Revenues and EBIT in 2015 reflect the acquisition of AltaLink on December 1, 2014. AltaLink’s revenues and EBIT in 2015 were $621 million and $170 million, respectively. The remaining increase in revenues was primarily due to an increase in solar capacity placed in service. Excluding the acquisition of AltaLink, the impact of higher revenues in 2015 was more than offset by higher operating, depreciation and interest expenses.

Real estate brokerage

Revenues increased 11.0% to $2.8 billion in 2016 compared to 2015. The increase was primarily attributable to increased closed brokerage transactions (primarily resulting from business acquisitions) and a 2% increase in average home sales prices, as well as higher mortgage revenues. EBIT increased $34 million (17.8%) in 2016 compared to 2015, primarily due to the increases in mortgage revenues.

Real estate brokerage revenues and EBIT increased 17% and 37%, respectively, in 2015 compared to 2014. The revenue increase reflected comparative increases in closed transactions and average home prices and the impact of business acquisitions. The increase in EBIT was primarily due to the increased revenues, net of commission expense, as well as a lower operating expense to revenue ratio as compared to 2014.

Corporate interest and income taxes

Corporate interest includes interest on unsecured debt issued by BHE and borrowings from certain Berkshire insurance subsidiaries in connection with BHE’s acquisitions of NV Energy and AltaLink. The decline in corporate interest in 2016 was primarily due to lower average borrowings from Berkshire insurance subsidiaries. In 2015, corporate interest expense increased over the prior year due to new borrowings in connection with the AltaLink acquisition.

BHE’s consolidated effective income tax rates were approximately 14% in 2016, 16% in 2015, and 23% in 2014. BHE’s effective income tax rates regularly reflect significant production tax credits from wind-powered electricity generation placed in service. In addition, pre-tax earnings of Northern Powergrid and AltaLink are taxed at lower statutory rates in the United Kingdom and Canada compared to the U.S. statutory tax rate. BHE’s effective rates in 2016 and 2015 also included reductions in deferred income tax liabilities resulting from enacted statutory income tax rate decreases in the United Kingdom and deferred state income tax benefits.

Manufacturing, Service and Retailing

A summary of revenues and earnings of our manufacturing, retailing and service businesses follows (in millions).

 

     Revenues      Earnings *  
     2016      2015      2014      2016      2015      2014  

Manufacturing

   $ 46,506      $ 36,136      $ 36,773      $ 6,211      $ 4,893      $ 4,811  

Service and retailing

     73,553        71,689        60,916        2,251        2,222        1,981  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 
   $ 120,059      $ 107,825      $ 97,689           
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

          

Pre-tax earnings

              8,462        7,115        6,792  

Income taxes and noncontrolling interests

              2,831        2,432        2,324  
           

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 
            $ 5,631      $ 4,683      $ 4,468  
           

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

* Excludes certain acquisition accounting expenses, which were primarily from the amortization of identified intangible assets recorded in connection with our business acquisitions. The after-tax acquisition accounting expenses excluded from earnings above were $771 million in 2016, $476 million in 2015 and $496 million in 2014. These expenses are included in “other” in the summary of earnings on page 32 and in the “other” earnings section on page 51.

 

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Table of Contents

Management’s Discussion and Analysis (Continued)

 

Manufacturing, Service and Retailing (Continued)

 

Manufacturing

Our manufacturing group includes a variety of businesses that produce industrial, building and consumer products. Industrial products businesses include specialty chemicals (The Lubrizol Corporation (“Lubrizol”)), metal cutting tools/systems (IMC International Metalworking Companies (“IMC”)), equipment and systems for the livestock and agricultural industries (CTB International), and a variety of industrial products for diverse markets (Marmon and Scott Fetzer). Beginning on January 29, 2016, our industrial products group also includes Precision Castparts Corp. (“PCC”), a leading manufacturer of complex metal products for aerospace, power and general industrial markets.

Our building products businesses include flooring (Shaw), insulation, roofing and engineered products (Johns Manville), bricks and masonry products (Acme Building Brands), paint and coatings (Benjamin Moore), and residential and commercial construction and engineering products and systems (MiTek). Our consumer products businesses include leisure vehicles (Forest River), several apparel and footwear operations (including Fruit of the Loom, Garan, H.H. Brown Shoe Group and Brooks Sports), and beginning February 29, 2016, the Duracell Company (“Duracell”), a leading manufacturer of high performance alkaline batteries. This group also includes custom picture framing products (Larson Juhl) and jewelry products (Richline). A summary of revenues and pre-tax earnings of our manufacturing operations follows (in millions).

 

     Revenues      Pre-tax earnings  
     2016      2015      2014      2016      2015      2014  

Industrial products

   $ 24,702      $ 16,760      $ 17,622      $ 4,209      $ 2,994      $ 3,159  

Building products

     10,772        10,316        10,124        1,178        1,167        896  

Consumer products

     11,032        9,060        9,027        824        732        756  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 
   $ 46,506      $ 36,136      $ 36,773      $ 6,211      $ 4,893      $ 4,811  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Aggregate revenues in 2016 were approximately $46.5 billion, an increase of approximately $10.4 billion (28.7%) over 2015. Pre-tax earnings were approximately $6.2 billion in 2016, an increase of $1.3 billion (26.9%) compared to 2015. Excluding PCC and Duracell, manufacturing revenues were flat and pre-tax earnings declined compared to 2015.

Industrial products

Industrial products revenues increased approximately $7.9 billion (47.4%) in 2016 versus 2015, primarily due to the inclusion of PCC, partially offset by revenue declines of $859 million (5.1%) across our other businesses. Sales volumes of our other businesses declined compared to 2015, reflecting sluggish demand for many product categories, particularly for products sold to businesses in the oil and gas and heavy equipment industries. In addition, lower average costs of oil-based raw materials and metals and increased competitive pressures continued to lower average selling prices.

Pre-tax earnings increased $1.2 billion (40.6%) in 2016 compared to 2015, reflecting the inclusion of PCC, partially offset by comparative earnings declines from our other businesses. Lubrizol’s earnings in 2016 included pre-tax losses of $365 million in 2016 related to the disposition in the fourth quarter of an underperforming business. Earnings from several of Marmon’s manufacturing businesses and Lubrizol’s continuing operations declined, while earnings from IMC increased slightly. Generally, our industrial products manufacturers experienced a combination of weaker customer demand, sales price and mix changes, and increased restructuring costs, which were partly offset by benefits from cost containment initiatives and lower average material prices.

Revenues declined $862 million (5%) in 2015 versus 2014. The foreign currency translation impact of a stronger U.S. Dollar produced approximately $782 million of the comparative revenue decline. In addition, commodity cost deflation in petroleum and metals used in certain of our products resulted in lower average selling prices, in particular for specialty chemicals, metal cutting tools, copper wire and plumbing products. Certain of our businesses experienced slowing customer demand over the last half of 2015 as the decline in oil prices and competitive pressures resulted in significantly lower sales volumes to customers in or related to the oil and gas industry. These negative factors were partly offset by revenues from bolt-on acquisitions of Lubrizol.

Pre-tax earnings declined $165 million (5%) in 2015 compared to 2014. The comparative declines in earnings reflected the adverse impact of the stronger U.S. Dollar, partially offset by earnings from bolt-on acquisitions, lower average commodity-based material costs, and actions taken in response to the slowing sales volumes previously referenced. Such actions address cost structures and exiting lower margin business.

 

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Table of Contents

Management’s Discussion and Analysis (Continued)

 

Manufacturing, Service and Retailing (Continued)

 

Building products

Building products revenues increased $456 million (4.4%) in 2016 compared to 2015, reflecting volume-driven revenue increases by MiTek, Johns Manville, Acme and Shaw, as well as revenues from bolt-on acquisitions by Shaw and MiTek. The revenue increase reflected increased unit sales across several product categories, partly offset by lower average sales prices and changes in product mix. Pre-tax earnings increased $11 million (0.9%) in 2016 compared to 2015. The favorable effects of increased sales volume and lower manufacturing costs in 2016 (attributable to deflation in certain commodity unit costs) were offset by increased charges for asset impairments, pension settlements and environmental claims.

Revenues increased $192 million (2%) in 2015 compared to 2014. The revenue increase reflected sales volume increases at Shaw, Johns Manville and MiTek, as well as the impact of bolt-on business acquisitions, partially offset by the unfavorable foreign currency translation from a stronger U.S. Dollar ($165 million). Pre-tax earnings increased $271 million (30%) compared to 2014. The overall increase in earnings was primarily attributable to the aforementioned increases in revenues and lower average raw material and energy costs, partially offset by the negative impact of foreign currency translation and increased restructuring charges. Shaw, Johns Manville and Benjamin Moore generated most of the comparative increase in earnings.

Consumer products

Consumer products revenues were approximately $11.0 billion in 2016, an increase of approximately $2.0 billion (21.8%) compared to 2015. The increase reflected the inclusion of Duracell and a 12% increase in Forest River’s revenues, which was primarily attributable to increased unit sales. Apparel revenues in 2016 declined $81 million (1.9%) compared to 2015, reflecting lower footwear sales and the impact of a divestiture by Fruit of the Loom in 2015.

Consumer products pre-tax earnings increased $92 million (12.6%) in 2016 compared to 2015. The earnings increase reflected increased earnings from Forest River and apparel and footwear businesses, partly offset by pre-tax losses of Duracell. From its acquisition date, Duracell incurred approximately $109 million in transition, business integration and restructuring costs. Forest River generated a pre-tax earnings increase of 28%, primarily due to increased sales volumes and higher gross margins. Earnings of our apparel businesses increased 22% in 2016, primarily attributable to lower restructuring costs and a loss in 2015 from the disposition of a Fruit of the Loom operation, partly offset by lower earnings from our footwear businesses.

Revenues of our consumer products manufacturers were approximately $9.1 billion in 2015, relatively unchanged from 2014. Forest River’s revenues increased 6% compared to 2014, due to a 4% increase in unit sales and increased average prices. Apparel revenues in 2015 declined 4% compared to 2014. The decline in apparel revenues was attributable to lower volume and the negative impact of foreign currency translation resulting from a stronger U.S. Dollar. Pre-tax earnings declined $24 million (3%) in 2015 compared to 2014. The decline was primarily due to a pre-tax loss in 2015 from the disposition of an unprofitable Fruit of the Loom operation and lower earnings from our footwear businesses, partially offset by higher earnings from Forest River.

Service and retailing

Our service and retailing businesses are comprised of a large group of independently managed businesses engaged in a variety of activities. A summary of revenues and pre-tax earnings of these operations follows (in millions).

 

     Revenues    Pre-tax earnings
     2016    2015    2014    2016    2015    2014

Service

     $ 10,386      $ 10,201      $ 9,854      $ 1,161      $ 1,156      $ 1,202

Retailing

       15,092        13,265        4,422        659        564        344

McLane Company

       48,075        48,223        46,640        431        502        435
    

 

 

      

 

 

      

 

 

      

 

 

      

 

 

      

 

 

 
     $ 73,553      $ 71,689      $ 60,916      $ 2,251      $ 2,222      $ 1,981
    

 

 

      

 

 

      

 

 

      

 

 

      

 

 

      

 

 

 

Service

Our service businesses offer fractional ownership programs for general aviation aircraft (NetJets) and high technology training to operators of aircraft (FlightSafety). We also distribute electronic components (TTI) and franchise and service a network of quick service restaurants (Dairy Queen). Services also include the electronic distribution of corporate news, multimedia and regulatory filings (Business Wire), publication of newspapers and other publications (Buffalo News and the BH Media Group) and operation of a television station in Miami, Florida (WPLG). We also offer third party logistics services that primarily serve the petroleum and chemical industries (Charter Brokerage).

 

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Table of Contents

Management’s Discussion and Analysis (Continued)

 

Manufacturing, Service and Retailing (Continued)

Service (Continued)

 

Service revenues increased 1.8% to approximately $10.4 billion in 2016 compared to 2015, primarily due to revenue increases from TTI and Charter Brokerage partly offset by a revenue decrease from NetJets. TTI’s revenues increased 7.2%, primarily due to sales volume increases in Asia, Europe and through the Internet, while the increase from Charter Brokerage primarily derived from a commodity trading business launched in 2015. NetJets’ revenues decreased 2.0% reflecting lower aircraft sales.

Pre-tax earnings were $1.2 billion in 2016, relatively unchanged versus 2015, reflecting increased earnings from NetJets and lower earnings from our newspaper operations. NetJets’ earnings increased 19%, primarily due to lower subcontracting expense and a decline in losses from aircraft impairments and dispositions, partly offset by increases in depreciation and restructuring charges and reduced aircraft sale margins. TTI’s earnings were relatively unchanged, as changes in geographic sales mix and price competition produced lower gross margin rates, substantially offsetting the aforementioned revenue increase.

Revenues increased $347 million (3.5%) in 2015 as compared to 2014. The increase included a 5% increase in NetJets’ revenues and the impact of the acquisitions of Charter Brokerage and WPLG during 2014, partly offset by reduced revenues from our newspaper operations. The increase in NetJets’ revenues was attributable to a 50% increase in aircraft sales, partially offset by lower flight operations revenue.

Pre-tax earnings declined $46 million in 2015 compared to 2014. Earnings benefitted from the WPLG and Charter Brokerage acquisitions, which were more than offset by lower earnings from NetJets. Earnings declined at NetJets as the impact of increased aircraft sales margins was more than offset by increased personnel, aircraft subcontracting and maintenance expenses. A portion of the increase in personnel costs pertained to lump-sum payments made in connection with a collective bargaining agreement reached with our pilots in the fourth quarter of 2015.

Retailing

Our retailing businesses include four distinct home furnishings retailing businesses (Nebraska Furniture Mart, R.C. Willey, Star Furniture and Jordan’s), which sell furniture, appliances, flooring and electronics. Our retailers also include Berkshire Hathaway Automotive (“BHA”), which we acquired in the first quarter of 2015. BHA currently includes 83 auto dealerships. BHA sells new and pre-owned automobiles, offering repair and other related services and products, and also includes two related insurance businesses, two auto auctions and a distributor of automotive fluid maintenance products.

Our other retailing businesses include three jewelry retailing businesses (Borsheims, Helzberg and Ben Bridge), See’s Candies (confectionary products), Pampered Chef (high quality kitchen tools), Oriental Trading Company (party supplies, school supplies and toys and novelties) and Detlev Louis Motorrad (“Louis”), a Germany-based retailer of motorcycle accessories acquired in the second quarter of 2015.

Retailing revenues increased $1.8 billion (13.8%) in 2016 to $15.1 billion as compared to 2015. The increase in revenues reflected the impact of the BHA and Louis acquisitions during 2015, which accounted for approximately $1.6 billion of the comparative increase. Home furnishings revenues increased $227 million (7.8%), primarily due to new stores opened in 2015 by Nebraska Furniture Mart and Jordan’s, as well as modest organic growth. Pre-tax earnings increased $95 million (16.8%) in 2016 compared to 2015. The increase reflected the impact of the BHA and Louis acquisitions and increased earnings from most of our other retailers, which benefitted from a combination of revenue increases and cost savings initiatives.

Revenues increased approximately $8.8 billion in 2015 as compared to 2014. The increase reflected the impact of the BHA and Louis acquisitions, which together contributed revenues of approximately $8.3 billion. Revenues of our home furnishings retailers increased $572 million (24%) over 2014, driven by Nebraska Furniture Mart, which opened a new store in March 2015 and from increases at R.C. Willey and Jordan’s. Pre-tax earnings increased $220 million (64%) compared to 2014. The increase was primarily due to the impact of the BHA and Louis acquisitions.

McLane Company

McLane operates a wholesale distribution business that provides grocery and non-food consumer products to retailers and convenience stores (“grocery”) and to restaurants (“foodservice”). McLane also operates businesses that are wholesale distributors of distilled spirits, wine and beer (“beverage”). The grocery and foodservice businesses generate high sales volumes and very low profit margins and have several significant customers, including Wal-Mart, 7-Eleven and Yum! Brands. A curtailment of purchasing by any of its significant customers could have an adverse impact on McLane’s periodic revenues and earnings.

 

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Management’s Discussion and Analysis (Continued)

 

Manufacturing, Service and Retailing (Continued)

McLane Company (Continued)

 

Revenues were $48.1 billion in 2016, a decline of $148 million (0.3%) relative to 2015. In 2016, we experienced a comparative decline in grocery revenues, partly offset by an increase in foodservice revenues. Earnings were $431 million in 2016, a decrease of $71 million (14%) compared to 2015. The reduced earnings was primarily due to a reduction in McLane’s operating margin (ratio of earnings to revenues). The decline was primarily due to increased employee related costs. Competition in our grocery and foodservice businesses has been and will likely continue to be intense and our ability to control operating costs is a key factor in maintaining profitability. Additionally, earnings in 2015 included a gain of $19 million from the disposition of a subsidiary.

Revenues increased $1.6 billion (3%) in 2015 compared to 2014, reflecting revenue increases in the foodservice unit (6%), beverage unit (8%) and grocery unit (2%). Pre-tax earnings increased $67 million (15%) in 2015 versus 2014. Pre-tax earnings in 2015 included the aforementioned gain from the sale of a subsidiary and otherwise benefitted from lower fuel and trucking costs.

Finance and Financial Products

Our finance and financial products businesses include manufactured housing and finance (Clayton Homes), transportation equipment manufacturing and leasing businesses (UTLX and XTRA, and together, “transportation equipment leasing”), as well as other leasing and financing activities. A summary of revenues and earnings from our finance and financial products businesses follows (in millions).

 

     Revenues    Earnings
     2016    2015    2014    2016    2015    2014

Manufactured housing and finance

     $ 4,230      $ 3,576      $ 3,310      $ 744      $ 706      $ 558

Transportation equipment leasing

       2,650        2,540        2,427        959        909        827

Other

       795        848        789        427        471        454
    

 

 

      

 

 

      

 

 

      

 

 

      

 

 

      

 

 

 
     $ 7,675      $ 6,964      $ 6,526               
    

 

 

      

 

 

      

 

 

                

Pre-tax earnings

                      2,130        2,086        1,839

Income taxes and noncontrolling interests

                      703        708        596
                   

 

 

      

 

 

      

 

 

 
                    $ 1,427      $ 1,378      $ 1,243
                   

 

 

      

 

 

      

 

 

 

Manufactured housing and finance

Clayton Homes’ revenues increased $654 million (18%) in 2016 compared to 2015, attributable to a 30% increase in revenues from home sales, primarily due to a 25% increase in units sold and product mix changes. Interest and other financial service income increased 1.8% from 2015. Pre-tax earnings increased $38 million (5.4%) compared to 2015. Earnings benefitted from increased home sales and improved manufacturing and retailing operating margins, partly offset by lower earnings from lending and financial services, which were negatively impacted by increased insurance losses. A significant portion of Clayton’s earnings are generated from lending activities, which in recent years benefitted from relatively low delinquency rates and loan losses and from declining borrowing costs attributable to lower average interest rates. As of December 31, 2016, Clayton Homes’ installment loan portfolio was approximately $13.3 billion and approximately 94% of the loan balances were current in terms of payment status.

Revenues and pre-tax earnings increased $266 million (8%) and $148 million (27%) in 2015, respectively, as compared to 2014. The revenue increase was primarily due to a 9% increase in home unit sales. The increase in earnings was primarily due to lower interest expense, improved manufacturing results, relatively low delinquency rates and lower loss rates on loan foreclosures. The decline in interest expense was primarily due to lower interest rates and to a lesser extent lower average balances.

Transportation equipment leasing

Transportation equipment leasing revenues increased $110 million (4.3%) in 2016 compared to 2015. The increase derived primarily from the acquisition of General Electric Company’s (“GE”) tank car fleet and its railcar repair services business in 2015 and increased rates and tank car additions. These increases were partly offset by lower utilization rates, unfavorable foreign currency effects, lower crane lease demand in North America and reduced volume related to oil and gas markets.

 

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Table of Contents

Management’s Discussion and Analysis (Continued)

 

Finance and Financial Products (Continued)

Transportation equipment leasing (Continued)

 

Pre-tax earnings increased $50 million (5.5%) in 2016 compared to 2015. The increase was primarily attributable to revenue growth and lower depreciation rates on certain tank car assets, partially offset by higher repair costs and interest expense on new borrowings from a Berkshire financing subsidiary. Significant portions of transportation leasing expenses, such as depreciation, do not vary proportionately to revenue changes and therefore changes in revenues can disproportionately impact earnings.

Revenues increased 5% in 2015 compared to 2014. The increase reflected increased railcar lease rates, a larger fleet of railcars, higher volumes in our Australian crane business, increased over-the-road trailers on lease and gains on dispositions of trailers. These increases were partially offset by the unfavorable effects of foreign currency exchange attributable to a stronger U.S. Dollar and lower volumes in our North American crane leasing business due to declines in oil drilling activity. As previously mentioned, we acquired GE’s tank car fleet on September 30, 2015, which included approximately 25,000 tank cars. We also acquired several railcar repair and maintenance facilities at the end of 2015.

Pre-tax earnings increased $82 million (10%) in 2015 compared to 2014. The increase was primarily attributable to the positive impact of the revenue growth discussed above, which more than offset the unfavorable impact of foreign currency translation and higher railcar repair and warranty costs and depreciation attributable to a larger fleet size.

Other

Other finance activities include CORT furniture leasing, our share of the earnings of a commercial mortgage servicing business (“Berkadia”) in which we own a 50% interest, and interest and dividends from a portfolio of investments. Other earnings decreased $44 million in 2016 compared to 2015, reflecting lower earnings from investment securities, partly offset by increased earnings from CORT and Berkadia. Other earnings also includes income from interest rate spreads charged on borrowings by a Berkshire financing subsidiary that are used to finance Clayton Homes’ installment loans and beginning in 2016, UTLX’s fleet of rail/tank cars held for lease. Offsetting expenses ($74 million in 2016, $62 million in 2015 and $68 million in 2014) were included in Clayton Homes’ and UTLX’s results.

Investment and Derivative Gains/Losses

A summary of investment and derivative gains and losses and other-than-temporary impairment losses on investments follows (in millions).

 

     2016     2015     2014  

Investment gains/losses

   $ 7,635     $ 9,399     $ 4,272  

Other-than-temporary impairments

     (82     (26     (697

Derivative gains/losses

     751       974       506  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Gains/losses before income taxes and noncontrolling interests

     8,304       10,347       4,081  

Income taxes and noncontrolling interests

     1,807       3,622       760  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net gains/losses

   $ 6,497     $ 6,725     $ 3,321  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Investment gains/losses

Investment gains/losses arise primarily from the sale, redemption or exchange of investments. The timing of gains or losses can have a material effect on periodic earnings. Investment gains and losses included in earnings usually have minimal impact on the periodic changes in our consolidated shareholders’ equity since most of our investments are recorded at fair value with the unrealized gains and losses included in shareholders’ equity as a component of accumulated other comprehensive income.

We believe the amount of investment gains/losses included in earnings in any given period typically has little analytical or predictive value. Our decisions to sell securities are not motivated by the impact that the resulting gains or losses will have on our reported earnings. Although we do not consider investment gains and losses as necessarily meaningful or useful in evaluating our periodic results, we are providing information to explain the nature of such gains and losses when reflected in our earnings.

 

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Table of Contents

Management’s Discussion and Analysis (Continued)

 

Investment and Derivative Gains/Losses (Continued)

Investment gains/losses (Continued)

 

Pre-tax investment gains were $7.6 billion in 2016 and included gains of $2.4 billion from the sale to Mars Inc. of our Wrigley preferred stock investment, $610 million from the Kraft Heinz Preferred Stock redemption, $1.2 billion from the Dow Preferred Stock conversion into common stock, and $1.1 billion from the exchange of shares of P&G common stock for 100% of the common stock of Duracell. Income tax expense allocated to investment gains included a benefit from the reduction of certain deferred income tax liabilities in connection with the exchange of P&G common stock for Duracell. Pre-tax investment gains included non-cash holding gains related to our investment in Kraft Heinz of $6.8 billion in 2015. In connection with its acquisition of Kraft Foods on July 2, 2015, Kraft Heinz issued new shares of its common stock in exchange for the outstanding shares of Kraft Foods common stock, thus reducing Berkshire’s ownership interest in Kraft Heinz by approximately 50%. Under the equity method of accounting, such transactions are treated by the investor as if it sold a portion of its interests.

Pre-tax investment gains were $4.3 billion in 2014, which included gains of approximately $2.1 billion realized in connection with the exchanges of common stock of Phillips 66 and Graham Holdings Company for 100% of the common stock of a specified subsidiary of each of those companies. Each exchange transaction in 2016 and 2014 was structured as a tax-free reorganization under the Internal Revenue Code. As a result, no income taxes are payable on the excess of the fair value of the businesses received over the tax-basis of the common stock exchanged.

Other-than-temporary impairments (“OTTI”)

OTTI charges in 2016 and 2015 were not significant and in 2014 were $697 million, predominantly relating to our investment in equity securities of Tesco PLC. Although we have periodically recorded OTTI charges in earnings in past years, we continue to hold some of those securities. If the market values of those investments increase following the date we recorded OTTI charges, the increases are included in shareholders’ equity as a component of accumulated other comprehensive income and not in earnings. When recorded, OTTI charges have no impact whatsoever on the asset values otherwise recorded in our Consolidated Balance Sheets or on our consolidated shareholders’ equity. In addition, the recognition of such losses in earnings rather than in accumulated other comprehensive income does not necessarily indicate that sales are planned and sales ultimately may not occur for a number of years. Furthermore, the recognition of OTTI charges does not necessarily indicate that the loss in value of the security is permanent or that the market price of the security will not subsequently increase to and ultimately exceed our original cost.

Derivative gains/losses

Derivative gains/losses primarily represented the changes in fair value of our credit default and equity index put option contract liabilities. The periodic changes in the fair values of these liabilities are recorded in earnings and can be significant, reflecting the volatility of underlying credit and equity markets and the changes in the inputs used to measure such liabilities.

Changes in the values of our equity index put option contract liabilities produced pre-tax gains of $662 million in 2016, which were primarily due to increases in the index values, favorable foreign currency exchange rate changes and shorter remaining contract durations, partly offset by lower interest rates. Our equity index put option contracts produced pre-tax gains of approximately $1.0 billion in 2015, which were primarily attributable to a stronger U.S. Dollar and shorter remaining durations. These contracts produced pre-tax gains of $108 million in 2014. Such gains reflected the favorable impact of foreign currency exchange rate changes and generally higher index values, partially offset by the effect of lower interest rate assumptions.

As of December 31, 2016, the aggregate intrinsic value of our equity put option contracts was approximately $1.0 billion and our recorded liability was approximately $2.9 billion. Our ultimate payment obligations, if any, under our equity index put option contracts will be determined as of the contract expiration dates (beginning in 2018), and will be based on the intrinsic value as defined under the contracts.

In July 2016, our remaining credit default contract was terminated by mutual agreement with the counterparty and we paid the counterparty $195 million. This contract produced pre-tax earnings of $89 million in 2016, pre-tax losses of $34 million in 2015 and pre-tax earnings of $397 million in 2014. We have no further exposure to losses under credit default contracts.

 

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Management’s Discussion and Analysis (Continued)

 

Other

A summary of after-tax other earnings (losses) which include corporate income (including income from our investments in Kraft Heinz), expenses and income taxes not allocated to operating businesses is summarized below (in millions).

 

           2016                 2015                 2014        

Kraft Heinz earnings

   $ 706     $ 841     $ 653  

Acquisition accounting expenses

     (846     (515     (531

Corporate interest expense

     (97     (191     (153

Other

     (106     (105     (114
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net earnings (losses) attributable to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders

   $ (343   $ 30     $ (145
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

The reduced earnings in 2016 from our investments in Kraft Heinz were due to lower dividends from our Preferred Stock investment, which was redeemed in June 2016, somewhat offset by increased equity method earnings from our common stock investment. Other earnings also include charges from the application of the acquisition method in connection with Berkshire’s business acquisitions. Such charges were primarily from the amortization of intangible assets recorded in connection with those business acquisitions, which we view as corporate expenses. Corporate interest expense includes after-tax foreign exchange gains of $159 million in 2016 and losses of $45 million in 2015 with respect to Euro denominated debt issued by Berkshire in March 2015 (€3.0 billion par) and March 2016 (€2.75 billion par). Excluding foreign currency effects, after-tax corporate interest expense was $256 million in 2016 and $146 million in 2015. The increase in 2016 was attributable to increased average outstanding debt.

Financial Condition

Our balance sheet continues to reflect significant liquidity and a strong capital base. Our consolidated shareholders’ equity at December 31, 2016 was $283.0 billion, an increase of $27.5 billion since December 31, 2015. Net earnings attributable to Berkshire shareholders in 2016 were $24.1 billion. At December 31, 2016, our insurance and other businesses held cash, cash equivalents and U.S. Treasury Bills of $70.9 billion, and investments (excluding our investment in Kraft Heinz) of $158.3 billion.

In January 2016, we used cash of approximately $32.1 billion to fund the acquisition of PCC, which we funded through a combination of cash on hand and $10 billion borrowed under a 364-day revolving credit agreement. We repaid these borrowings following our issuance in March 2016, of €2.75 billion and $5.5 billion of senior unsecured notes. In August 2016, we issued $750 million of senior unsecured notes to replace $750 million of maturing notes. In January 2017, Berkshire issued new senior notes aggregating €1.1 billion and repaid $1.1 billion of maturing senior notes. There are no other parent company term debt maturities in 2017.

Our railroad, utilities and energy businesses (conducted by BNSF and BHE) maintain very large investments in capital assets (property, plant and equipment) and will regularly make significant capital expenditures in the normal course of business. In 2016, capital expenditures included $5.1 billion by BHE and $3.8 billion by BNSF. Aggregate capital expenditures of these businesses are forecasted to be $8.6 billion in 2017. We expect future capital expenditures will be funded by cash flows from operations and debt issuances.

BNSF’s outstanding debt was approximately $22.0 billion as of December 31, 2016, an increase of $307 million from December 31, 2015. Outstanding borrowings of BHE and its subsidiaries, excluding its borrowings from Berkshire insurance subsidiaries, were approximately $37.0 billion as of December 31, 2016, an increase of approximately $1.0 billion from December 31, 2015. BNSF and BHE debt maturities in 2017 will be $3.6 billion. Berkshire does not guarantee the repayment of debt issued by BNSF, BHE or any of their subsidiaries and is not committed to provide capital to support BNSF or BHE or any of their subsidiaries.

Finance and financial products assets were approximately $41.7 billion as of December 31, 2016, an increase of approximately $2.7 billion since December 31, 2015. Finance assets consist primarily of loans and finance receivables, various types of property held for lease, and cash, cash equivalents, U.S. Treasury Bills and other investments. In September 2016, a Berkshire finance subsidiary received approximately $4.6 billion from the sale of its Wrigley preferred stock investment.

 

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Management’s Discussion and Analysis (Continued)

 

Financial Condition (Continued)

 

Finance and financial products liabilities were approximately $19.7 billion as of December 31, 2016, an increase of approximately $2.5 billion compared to December 31, 2015. The increase was attributable to $3.5 billion of debt issued by Berkshire Hathaway Finance Corporation (“BHFC”) in March, partly offset by lower derivative contract liabilities. The debt proceeds were used to fund loans originated and acquired by Clayton Homes and to fund a portion of existing assets held for lease by our UTLX railcar leasing business. In January 2017, BHFC issued new senior notes aggregating $1.3 billion due in 2019 and 2020 and repaid $1.05 billion of maturing notes. Over the remainder of 2017, an additional $1.75 billion of BHFC senior notes will mature. While we currently intend to have BHFC issue additional notes in 2017 to replace the maturing debt, the amount to be issued will be based on prevailing market conditions.

Berkshire’s Board of Directors has authorized Berkshire to repurchase its Class A and Class B common shares at prices no higher than a 20% premium over the book value of the shares. Berkshire may repurchase shares at management’s discretion and there is no obligation to repurchase any shares. We expect the program to continue indefinitely. We will not repurchase shares if it reduces the total amount of Berkshire’s consolidated cash, cash equivalents and U.S. Treasury Bills holdings below $20 billion. Financial strength and redundant liquidity will always be of paramount importance at Berkshire. There were no share repurchases under the program in 2016.

Contractual Obligations

We are party to contracts associated with ongoing business and financing activities, which will result in cash payments to counterparties in future periods. Certain obligations are included in our Consolidated Balance Sheets, such as notes payable, which require future payments on contractually specified dates and in fixed and determinable amounts. Other obligations pertain to the acquisition of goods or services in the future, such as minimum rentals under operating leases and certain purchase obligations, and are not currently reflected in the financial statements, but will be recognized in future periods as the goods are delivered or services are provided.

The timing and/or amount of the payments under certain contracts are contingent upon the outcome of future events. Actual payments will likely vary, perhaps significantly, from estimates reflected in the table that follows. Most significantly, the timing and amount of future payments arising under property and casualty insurance and reinsurance contracts are contingent upon the outcome of claim settlement activities or events. In addition, obligations arising under life, annuity and health insurance benefits are contingent on future premiums, allowances, mortality, morbidity, expenses and policy lapse rates, as applicable. These amounts are included in the following table based on the liability estimates reflected in our Consolidated Balance Sheet as of December 31, 2016. Although certain insurance losses and loss adjustment expenses and life, annuity and health benefits are recoverable under reinsurance contracts, those receivables recorded in the Consolidated Balance Sheet are not reflected in the table.

A summary of contractual obligations as of December 31, 2016 follows (in millions).

 

     Estimated payments due by period
     Total    2017    2018-2019    2020-2021    After 2021

Notes payable and other borrowings, including interest

     $ 152,519      $ 14,038      $ 26,047      $ 14,396      $ 98,038

Operating leases

       8,285        1,337        2,168        1,610        3,170

Purchase obligations (1)

       38,189        11,072        7,560        4,937        14,620

Losses and loss adjustment expenses (2)

       78,351        17,591        17,684        9,791        33,285

Life, annuity and health insurance benefits (3)

       30,705        1,299        323        490        28,593

Other

       13,173        2,221        909        1,639        8,404
    

 

 

      

 

 

      

 

 

      

 

 

      

 

 

 

Total

     $ 321,222      $ 47,558      $ 54,691      $ 32,863      $ 186,110
    

 

 

      

 

 

      

 

 

      

 

 

      

 

 

 

 

(1) 

Primarily obligations of BHE, BNSF and NetJets.

 

(2) 

Before reserve discounts of $1.4 billion.

 

(3) 

Amounts represent estimated undiscounted benefits, net of estimated future premiums, as applicable.

 

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Table of Contents

Management’s Discussion and Analysis (Continued)

 

Critical Accounting Policies

Certain accounting policies require us to make estimates and judgments that affect the amounts reflected in the Consolidated Financial Statements. Such estimates and judgments necessarily involve varying, and possibly significant, degrees of uncertainty. Accordingly, certain amounts currently recorded in the financial statements will likely be adjusted in the future based on new available information and changes in other facts and circumstances.

Property and casualty losses

We record liabilities for unpaid losses and loss adjustment expenses based upon estimates of the ultimate amounts payable for losses occurring on or before the balance sheet date. Except for certain workers’ compensation reinsurance claims, we record all liabilities for unpaid losses and loss adjustment expenses (referred to in this section as “gross unpaid losses”) in the Consolidated Balance Sheets without discounting for time value. The timing and amount of ultimate loss payments are contingent upon, among other things, the timing of claim reporting from insureds and ceding companies and the final determination of the loss amount through the loss adjustment process. We use a variety of techniques in establishing liabilities and all techniques require significant judgments and assumptions. We believe the processes and techniques utilized best suit the underlying claims and available data.

As of any balance sheet date, recorded liabilities include provisions for reported claims, as well as claims not yet reported and the development of reported claims. The period between the loss occurrence date and loss settlement date is the “claim-tail.” Property claims usually have relatively short claim-tails, absent litigation. Casualty claims usually have longer claim-tails, occasionally extending for decades. Casualty claims may be more susceptible to litigation and the impact of changing contract interpretations. The legal environment and judicial process further contributes to extending claim-tails. Our liabilities as of December 31, 2016 were $76.9 billion, of which 85% related to GEICO, General Re and BHRG. Additional information regarding significant uncertainties inherent in the processes and techniques of GEICO, General Re and BHRG follows.

GEICO

GEICO predominantly writes private passenger auto insurance. As of December 31, 2016, GEICO’s gross unpaid losses and loss adjustment expenses were $15.5 billion and unpaid losses net of reinsurance recoverable were $14.4 billion.

GEICO’s claim reserving methodologies produce liability estimates based upon the individual claims. The key assumptions affecting our liability estimates include projections of ultimate claim counts (“frequency”) and average loss per claim (“severity”). We utilize a combination of several actuarial estimation methods, including Bornhuetter-Ferguson and chain-ladder methodologies.

Liability estimates for automobile liability coverages (such as bodily injury (“BI”), uninsured motorists, and personal injury protection) are more uncertain due to the longer claim-tails, so we establish additional case development estimates. As of December 31, 2016, case development liabilities averaged approximately 25% of the case reserves. We select case development factors through analysis of the overall adequacy of historical case liabilities.

For unreported claims, IBNR liabilities are based on projections of the ultimate number of claims expected (reported and unreported) for each significant coverage. We use historical claim count data to develop age-to-age projections of the ultimate counts by quarterly accident period, from which we deduct reported claims to produce the number of unreported claims. We estimate the average costs per unreported claim and apply such estimates to the unreported claim counts, producing an IBNR liability estimate. We may record additional IBNR estimates when actuarial techniques are difficult to apply.

For significant coverages, we test the adequacy of the aggregate liabilities for unpaid losses using one or more actuarial projections based on claim closure models, and paid and incurred loss triangles. Each type of projection analyzes loss occurrence data for claims occurring in a given period and projects the ultimate cost.

Unpaid loss and loss adjustment expense liability estimates recorded at the end of 2015 developed downward by $61 million when reevaluated through December 31, 2016, which produced a corresponding increase to pre-tax earnings in 2016. We modified the assumptions used to estimate liabilities at December 31, 2016 as appropriate to reflect the most recent frequency and severity results. Future development of recorded liabilities will depend on whether actual frequency and severity are more or less than anticipated.

 

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Management’s Discussion and Analysis (Continued)

 

Property and casualty losses (Continued)

GEICO (Continued)

 

With respect to liabilities for BI claims, our most significant claim category, we believe it is reasonably possible that average severities will change by at least one percentage point from the severities used in establishing the recorded liabilities at December 31, 2016. We estimate that a one percentage point increase or decrease in BI severities would produce a $240 million increase or decrease in recorded liabilities, with a corresponding decrease or increase in pre-tax earnings. Many of the same economic forces that would likely cause BI severity to differ from expectations would likely also cause severities for other injury coverages to differ in the same direction.

General Re and BHRG

Liabilities for unpaid property and casualty losses and loss adjustment expenses of General Re and BHRG derive primarily from reinsurance contracts. In connection with reinsurance contracts, the nature, extent, timing and perceived reliability of information received from ceding companies varies widely depending on the type of coverage and the contractual reporting terms. Contract terms, conditions and coverages also tend to lack standardization and may evolve more rapidly than primary insurance policies.

The nature and extent of loss information provided under many facultative (individual risk), per occurrence excess or retroactive reinsurance contracts may not differ significantly from the information received under a primary insurance contract if reinsurer personnel either work closely with the ceding company in settling individual claims or manage the claims themselves. However, loss information is often less detailed with respect to aggregate excess-of-loss and quota-share contracts. Additionally, loss information we receive through periodic reports is often in a summary format rather than on an individual claim basis. Loss data includes recoverable paid losses, as well as case loss estimates. Ceding companies infrequently provide IBNR estimates to reinsurers.

Loss reporting to reinsurers is typically slower in comparison to primary insurers. Periodic premium and claims reports are required from ceding companies. In the U.S., such reports are generally required at quarterly intervals ranging from 30 to 90 days after the end of the accounting period. Outside of the U.S., reinsurance reporting practices may vary further. In certain countries, clients report annually, often 90 to 180 days after the end of the annual period. In some instances, reinsurers assume and cede underlying risks thereby creating multiple contractual intermediaries between us and the primary insured potentially compounding the claim reporting delays. The relative impact of reporting delays on the reinsurer may vary depending on the type of coverage, contractual reporting terms and the magnitude of the claim relative to the attachment point of the reinsurance contract and for other reasons.

The premium and loss data we receive is through at least one intermediary (the primary insurer), so there is a risk that the loss data reported is incomplete, inaccurate or the claim is outside the coverage terms. When received, we review the information for completeness and compliance with the contract terms. Generally, our reinsurance contracts permit us to access the ceding company’s books and records with respect to the subject business, thus providing the ability to audit the reported information.

In the normal course of business, disputes occasionally arise concerning whether claims are covered by our reinsurance policies. We resolve most coverage disputes through negotiation with the client. If disputes cannot be resolved, our contracts generally provide arbitration, litigation or alternative dispute resolution processes. There are no coverage disputes at this time for which an adverse resolution would likely have a material impact on our consolidated results of operations or financial condition.

General Re

Information concerning General Re’s gross and net unpaid losses and loss adjustment expenses as of December 31, 2016 follows (in millions).

 

Type

        

Line of business

      

Reported case liabilities

   $ 6,536     Liability and workers’ compensation (1)    $ 11,408  

IBNR liabilities

     6,884     Property      2,012  
  

 

 

      

 

 

 

Gross unpaid losses and loss adjustment expenses

     13,420     Total    $ 13,420  
       

 

 

 

Reinsurance recoverable and deferred charges

     (693     
  

 

 

      

Net unpaid losses and loss adjustment expenses

   $ 12,727       
  

 

 

      

 

(1) 

Net of discounts of approximately $1.4 billion.

 

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Table of Contents

Management’s Discussion and Analysis (Continued)

 

Property and casualty losses (Continued)

General Re (Continued)

 

For General Re, the critical processes involved in estimating unpaid losses and loss adjustment expenses include the establishment of case liability estimates, the determination of expected loss ratios, which drive IBNR liability estimates, and the comparison of reported loss trends to the expected loss reporting patterns. Recorded liabilities are subject to “tail risk” where reported losses are beyond the expected loss emergence period.

Our process for estimating unpaid losses and loss adjustment expenses begins with case loss estimates made by the ceding company. Upon notification of a reinsurance claim from a ceding company, we independently evaluate the case losses reported and if appropriate, we use our own case liability estimate. As of December 31, 2016, our case loss estimates exceeded ceding company estimates by approximately $2.2 billion, which were concentrated in the workers’ compensation line. We also periodically conduct detailed reviews of individual client claims, which may cause us to adjust our case estimates.

In estimating IBNR liabilities, we consider expected case loss emergence and development patterns, together with expected loss ratios by year. In this process, we classify all loss and premium data into segments (“cells”) based primarily on product type (e.g., treaty, facultative and program), line of business (e.g., auto liability, property and workers’ compensation) and geographic jurisdiction. For each cell, we aggregate premiums and losses by accident year, policy year or underwriting year and analyze the data over time. There are several hundred cells. We use loss triangles to determine the expected development of reported claims for most coverages, which, together with the expected loss ratios, are used to calculate IBNR liability estimates. We select expected loss ratios by cell and by year based upon indicated ultimate loss ratios and forecasted losses obtained from pricing statistics. Indicated ultimate loss ratios are determined from the selected loss emergence pattern, reported losses and earned premiums. Factors affecting our loss development triangles include, but are not limited to, changes in the following: client claims practices; the frequency of client company claim reviews; policy terms and coverage (such as loss retention levels and occurrence and aggregate policy limits); loss trends, and legal trends that result in unanticipated losses. Collectively, these factors influence our selections of expected loss emergence patterns.

Once the IBNR liabilities are determined, we estimate the expected case loss emergence for the upcoming calendar year, based on the prior year-end expected loss emergence patterns and expected loss ratios. We allocate the expected losses into interim estimates, which we compare to actual reported losses. This comparison provides a test of the adequacy of prior year-end IBNR liabilities and forms the basis for possibly changing IBNR liability assumptions during the course of the year.

During 2016, we reduced net losses for prior years’ occurrences by $280 million in the aggregate. This reduction produced a corresponding increase in pre-tax earnings.

Reported claims for prior years’ property loss events were less than expected and we reduced our estimated ultimate liabilities by $157 million. However, property losses incurred during any given period may be more volatile because of the effect of catastrophe and large individual property loss events.

In 2016, reported nominal losses for prior years’ workers’ compensation were less than expected, which after reevaluating expected remaining IBNR estimates, resulted in a reduction of nominal liabilities by $165 million. However, we discount workers’ compensation liabilities and after adjusting for changes in discounts, workers’ compensation losses for prior years’ occurrences had a minimal impact on pre-tax earnings. An increase of ten percent in the tail of the expected loss emergence pattern and an increase of ten percent in the expected loss ratios would produce a net increase in discounted workers’ compensation IBNR liabilities of approximately $889 million, producing a corresponding decrease in pre-tax earnings. We believe it is reasonably possible for these assumptions to increase at these rates.

Other casualty and general liability reported losses (excluding mass tort losses) were less than expected in 2016, resulting in a $205 million increase in pre-tax earnings. However, casualty losses tend to be long-tailed and it should not be assumed that favorable loss experience in a given period will continue in the future. For our significant casualty and general liability cells, we estimate that an increase of five percent in the claim-tails of the expected loss emergence patterns and a five percent increase in expected loss ratios would produce a net increase in our nominal IBNR liabilities and a corresponding reduction in pre-tax earnings of approximately $900 million. While we believe it is reasonably possible for these assumptions to increase at these rates, more likely outcomes are less than $900 million given the diversification in worldwide business.

 

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Management’s Discussion and Analysis (Continued)

 

Property and casualty losses (Continued)

General Re (Continued)

 

Overall industry-wide loss experience data and informed judgment are used when internal loss data is of limited reliability, such as for mass tort, asbestos and hazardous waste (collectively, “mass tort”) liability estimates. General Re’s net liability for such losses at December 31, 2016, was approximately $1.2 billion, which included an increase in estimated ultimate losses of $98 million during 2016, which produced a corresponding reduction in pre-tax earnings. Mass tort loss estimations are difficult to determine due to the changing legal environment, and increases may be required in the future if new exposures or claimants are identified, new claims are reported or new theories of liability emerge. In addition to the previously described methodologies, we consider “survival ratios”, which is the average net claim payments in recent years in relation to net unpaid losses, as a rough guide to reserve adequacy. General Re’s survival ratio was approximately 15 years as of December 31, 2016.

BHRG

A summary of BHRG’s unpaid losses and loss adjustment expenses as of December 31, 2016 follows (in millions).

 

     Property      Casualty      Total  

Reported case liabilities

   $ 1,556      $ 2,399      $ 3,955  

IBNR liabilities

     2,904        4,831        7,735  

Retroactive reinsurance liabilities

     —          24,675        24,675  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Gross unpaid losses and loss adjustment expenses

   $ 4,460      $ 31,905        36,365  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

Deferred charges and reinsurance recoverable

           (8,509
        

 

 

 

Net unpaid losses and loss adjustment expenses

         $ 27,856  
        

 

 

 

We use a variety of actuarial methodologies to establish unpaid losses and loss adjustment expenses. Certain methodologies, such as paid and incurred loss development techniques, incurred and paid loss Bornhuetter-Ferguson techniques and frequency and severity techniques, are utilized, as well as ground-up techniques when appropriate.

A large percentage of BHRG’s unpaid losses and loss adjustment expenses derive from retroactive reinsurance contracts, which relate to loss events occurring before the contract inception date. Gross liabilities with respect to such contracts were approximately $24.7 billion at December 31, 2016, and were predominately for casualty and liability coverages. We expect the claim-tail related to certain of these contracts to be very long.

We establish aggregate liability estimates by individual contract, considering exposure and development trends. In establishing retroactive reinsurance liabilities, we often analyze historical aggregate loss payment patterns and project expected losses under various scenarios. We assign judgmental probability factors to these scenarios and an expected outcome is determined. We then monitor loss payment activity and review ceding company reports and other information concerning the underlying losses, and we re-estimate expected ultimate losses when significant events are reported or revealed.

Certain of our contracts include significant exposures to asbestos, environmental and other latent injury claims. We estimate that our liabilities for such claims were approximately $13.7 billion at December 31, 2016. We do not receive consistently reliable information regarding asbestos, environmental and latent injury claims data from all ceding companies, particularly with respect to multi-line or aggregate excess-of-loss policies. Periodically, we conduct a detailed analysis of the underlying loss data to make an estimate of ultimate reinsured losses. When detailed loss information is unavailable, we develop estimates by applying recent industry trends and projections to aggregate client data. Judgments in these areas necessarily consider the stability of the legal and regulatory environment under which we expect these claims will be adjudicated. Legal reform and legislation could also have a significant impact on our ultimate liabilities.

Changes in ultimate estimated liabilities for prior years’ retroactive reinsurance contracts were relatively insignificant in 2016, as were changes in the estimated timing and amount of remaining unpaid losses. In 2016, we paid losses and loss adjustment expenses of approximately $1.1 billion with respect to these contracts.

 

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Management’s Discussion and Analysis (Continued)

 

Property and casualty losses (Continued)

BHRG (Continued)

 

We currently believe that maximum losses payable under our retroactive policies will not exceed $40 billion due to the aggregate contract limits that are applicable to most of these contracts. Absent significant judicial or legislative changes affecting asbestos, environmental or latent injury exposures, we also currently believe it unlikely that losses will develop upward to the maximum loss payable or downward by more than 15% of our year-end estimate.

We also record deferred charges with respect to our retroactive reinsurance contracts, which at contract inception represents the excess, if any, of the estimated ultimate liability for unpaid losses over premiums. Unamortized deferred charges were approximately $8.0 billion at December 31, 2016, which will be amortized and charged to pre-tax earnings in the future based on the expected timing and amount of loss payments. Significant changes in such estimates may have a significant effect on unamortized deferred charges and the amount of periodic amortization. Based on the contracts in effect as of December 31, 2016, and the new AIG contract we currently estimate that amortization expense in 2017 will approximate $950 million.

Gross unpaid losses and loss adjustment expense liabilities related to property and casualty contracts, other than retroactive reinsurance, were approximately $11.7 billion as of December 31, 2016 and consisted primarily of traditional property and casualty coverages written primarily under excess-of-loss and quota-share treaties. These coverages included catastrophe and aviation contracts that tend to generate low frequency/high severity losses, although such liabilities have diminished in recent years due to declines in business written. Reserving techniques for catastrophe and individual risk contracts generally rely more on a per-policy assessment of the ultimate cost associated with the individual loss event rather than with an analysis of the historical development patterns of past losses.

We generally establish liabilities for unpaid losses and loss adjustments expenses for these contracts based upon loss estimates reported by ceding companies and IBNR reserves that are primarily a function of reported losses from ceding companies and anticipated loss ratios established on a portfolio basis, supplemented by management’s estimates of the impact of major catastrophe events as they become known. In 2016, we decreased estimated ultimate losses for prior years’ occurrences by approximately $585 million, which primarily derived from lower than expected losses reported by ceding companies. The decrease produced a corresponding increase in pre-tax earnings.

Derivative contract liabilities

We measure derivative contract liabilities at fair value. Our most significant derivative contract exposures relate to equity index put option contracts written between 2004 and 2008. We believe that the fair values produced for long-duration options are inherently subjective. Actual values in an exchange may differ significantly from the values produced by any mathematical model, as transaction values may also reflect perceptions of individual buyers and sellers as well as other changes in market conditions.

We determine the fair value of equity index put option contracts using a Black-Scholes based option valuation model. Inputs to the model include the current index value, strike price, interest rate, dividend rate and contract expiration date. The weighted average interest and dividend rates used as of December 31, 2016 were 1.2% and 3.3%, respectively. The interest rates were approximately 57 basis points (on a weighted average basis) over benchmark interest rates at the end of 2016 and represented our estimate of our nonperformance risk. We believe that the most significant economic risks under these contracts relate to changes in the index value component and, to a lesser degree, the foreign currency component.

The Black-Scholes based model also incorporates volatility estimates that measure potential price changes over time. Our contracts have an average remaining maturity of about four years. The weighted average volatility used as of December 31, 2016 was approximately 20.2%. We determine the weighted average volatilities based on the volatility input for each contract weighted by the contract’s notional value. The volatility input for each contract reflects our expectation of future price volatility. The potential impact from changes in our volatility assumptions are as follows. (Dollars in millions).

 

Fair value at December 31, 2016

       $2,890  

Hypothetical change in volatility

   Hypothetical fair value

Increase 2 percentage points

     $ 3,098

Increase 4 percentage points

       3,319

Decrease 2 percentage points

       2,695

Decrease 4 percentage points

       2,516

 

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Management’s Discussion and Analysis (Continued)

 

Other Critical Accounting Policies

Our Consolidated Balance Sheet at December 31, 2016 included goodwill of acquired businesses of $79.5 billion. We evaluate goodwill for impairment at least annually and we conducted our most recent annual review during the fourth quarter of 2016. Our review includes determining the estimated fair values of our reporting units. There are several methods of estimating a reporting unit’s fair value, including market quotations, underlying asset and liability fair value determinations and other valuation techniques, such as discounted projected future net earnings or net cash flows and multiples of earnings. We primarily use discounted projected future earnings or cash flow methods. The key assumptions and inputs used in such methods may include forecasting revenues and expenses, operating cash flows and capital expenditures, as well as an appropriate discount rate and other inputs. A significant amount of judgment is required in estimating the fair value of a reporting unit and in performing goodwill impairment tests. Due to the inherent uncertainty in forecasting cash flows and earnings, actual results may vary significantly from the forecasts. If the carrying amount of a reporting unit, including goodwill, exceeds the estimated fair value, then, as required by GAAP, we estimate the fair values of the identifiable assets and liabilities of the reporting unit. The excess of the estimated fair value of the reporting unit over the estimated fair value of its net assets establishes the implied value of goodwill. The excess of the recorded amount of goodwill over the implied goodwill value is charged to earnings as an impairment loss.

Market Risk Disclosures

Our Consolidated Balance Sheets include substantial amounts of assets and liabilities whose fair values are subject to market risks. Our significant market risks are primarily associated with equity prices, interest rates, foreign currency exchange rates and commodity prices. The fair values of our investment portfolios and equity index put option contracts remain subject to considerable volatility. The following sections address the significant market risks associated with our business activities.

Equity Price Risk

Historically, equity securities have represented a significant portion of our investment portfolio. Strategically, we strive to invest in businesses that possess excellent economics and able and honest management and at sensible prices, and we prefer to invest a meaningful amount in each investee. Consequently, equity investments are concentrated in relatively few issuers. At December 31, 2016, approximately 60% of the total fair value of equity securities and other investments was concentrated in five issuers.

We often hold our equity investments for long periods and short-term price volatility has and will occur. We are not necessarily disturbed by market price declines provided the underlying business, economic and management characteristics of the investees remain favorable. We strive to maintain significant levels of shareholder capital and ample liquidity to provide a margin of safety against short-term price volatility.

Market prices for equity securities are subject to fluctuation and consequently, the amount realized in the subsequent sale of an investment may significantly differ from the reported market value. Fluctuation in the market price of a security may result from perceived changes in the underlying economic characteristics of the investee, the relative price of alternative investments and general market conditions.

We are also subject to equity price risk with respect to our equity index put option contracts. While our ultimate liability with respect to these contracts is determined from the movement of the underlying stock index between the contract inception date and expiration date, fair values of these contracts are also affected by changes in other factors such as interest rates, expected dividend rates and the remaining duration of the contract.

 

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Management’s Discussion and Analysis (Continued)

 

Equity Price Risk (Continued)

 

The following table summarizes our equity securities and other investments and derivative contract liabilities with significant equity price risk as of December 31, 2016 and 2015. We also show the effects of a hypothetical 30% increase and a 30% decrease in market prices as of those dates. The selected 30% hypothetical changes does not reflect the best or worst case scenarios. Indeed, results could be far worse due both to the nature of equity markets and the aforementioned concentrations existing in our equity investment portfolio. Dollar amounts are in millions.

 

     Fair Value      Hypothetical
Price Change
     Estimated
Fair Value after
Hypothetical
Change in Prices
     Hypothetical
Percentage
Increase (Decrease) in
Shareholders’ Equity

December 31, 2016

                         

Assets:

                         

Equity securities

     $ 122,032          30% increase          $ 158,642          8.4
              30% decrease            85,422          (8.4 )

Other investments (1)

       9,597          30% increase            13,699          0.9
              30% decrease            5,677          (0.9 )

Liabilities:

                         

Equity index put option contracts

       2,890          30% increase            1,602          0.3
              30% decrease            5,572          (0.6 )

December 31, 2015

                         

Assets:

                         

Equity securities

     $ 112,137          30% increase          $ 145,778          8.6
              30% decrease            78,496          (8.6 )

Other investments (1)

       13,839          30% increase            17,985          1.1
              30% decrease            9,385          (1.1 )

Liabilities:

                         

Equity index put option contracts

       3,552          30% increase            2,044          0.4
              30% decrease            6,561          (0.8 )

 

(1) 

Excludes other investments that do not possess significant equity price risk.

Interest Rate Risk

We regularly invest in bonds, loans or other interest rate sensitive instruments. Our strategy is to acquire securities that are attractively priced relative to the perceived credit risk. Our management recognizes and accepts that losses may occur. We also issue debt in the ordinary course of business to fund business operations, business acquisitions and for other general purposes. We strive to maintain high credit ratings so as to minimize the cost of our debt. We rarely utilize derivative products, such as interest rate swaps, to manage interest rate risks.

The fair values of our fixed maturity investments and notes payable and other borrowings will fluctuate in response to changes in market interest rates. In addition, changes in interest rate assumptions used in our equity index put option contract models cause changes in reported liabilities with respect to those contracts. Increases and decreases in interest rates generally translate into decreases and increases in fair values of those instruments. Additionally, fair values of interest rate sensitive instruments may be affected by the creditworthiness of the issuer, prepayment options, relative values of alternative investments, the liquidity of the instrument and other general market conditions. The fair values of fixed interest rate instruments are usually more sensitive to interest rate changes than variable rate instruments.

 

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Management’s Discussion and Analysis (Continued)

 

Interest Rate Risk (Continued)

 

The following table summarizes the estimated effects of hypothetical changes in interest rates on our significant assets and liabilities that are subject to interest rate risk. We assumed that the interest rate changes occur immediately and uniformly to each category of instrument containing interest rate risk, and that there are no significant changes to other factors used to determine the value of the instrument. The hypothetical changes in interest rates do not reflect the best or worst case scenarios. Variations in interest rates could produce significant changes in the timing of repayments due to prepayment options available to the issuer. For these reasons, actual results might differ from those reflected in the table. Dollars are in millions.

 

          Estimated Fair Value after
Hypothetical Change in Interest Rates
          (bp=basis points)
      Fair Value       100 bp
  decrease  
   100 bp
  increase  
   200 bp
  increase  
   300 bp
  increase  

December 31, 2016

                        

Assets:

                        

Investments in fixed maturity securities

      $  23,465       $  24,120       $  22,893       $  22,428       $  21,985

Other investments (1)

       7,659        8,095        7,213        6,780        6,367

Loans and finance receivables

       13,717        14,230        13,237        12,790        12,370

Liabilities:

                        

Notes payable and other borrowings:

                        

Insurance and other

       27,712        29,475        26,154        24,770        23,533

Railroad, utilities and energy

       65,774        72,261        60,302        55,634        51,624

Finance and financial products

       15,825        16,408        15,318        14,872        14,476

Equity index put option contracts

       2,890        3,287        2,533        2,213        1,928

December 31, 2015

                        

Assets:

                        

Investments in fixed maturity securities

      $ 26,027       $ 26,618       $ 25,351       $ 24,733       $ 24,164

Other investments (1)

       11,394        11,571        10,664        10,228        9,814

Loans and finance receivables

       13,112        13,594        12,661        12,240        11,844

Liabilities:

                        

Notes payable and other borrowings:

                        

Insurance and other

       14,773        15,589        13,979        13,287        12,679

Railroad, utilities and energy

       62,471        68,625        57,279        52,833        49,006

Finance and financial products

       12,363        12,942        11,860        11,420        11,032

Equity index put option contracts

       3,552        4,110        3,059        2,624        2,242

 

(1) 

Excludes other investments that are not subject to a significant level of interest rate risk.

Foreign Currency Risk

Certain of our subsidiaries operate in foreign jurisdictions and we transact business in foreign currencies. In addition, we hold investments in common stocks of major multinational companies, such as The Coca-Cola Company, who have significant foreign business and foreign currency risk of their own. We generally do not attempt to match assets and liabilities by currency and do not use derivative contracts to hedge or manage foreign currency price changes in any meaningful way. Our net assets subject to financial statement translation into U.S. Dollars are primarily in our insurance, utilities and energy and certain manufacturing and services subsidiaries. This translation related impact may be offset by gains or losses related to net liabilities of Berkshire and certain of its U.S. subsidiaries that are denominated in foreign currencies, including gains and losses from the remeasurement of such liabilities due to changes in exchange rates.

 

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Management’s Discussion and Analysis (Continued)

 

Commodity Price Risk

Our subsidiaries use commodities in various ways in manufacturing and providing services. As such, we are subject to price risks related to various commodities. In most instances, we attempt to manage these risks through the pricing of our products and services to customers. To the extent that we are unable to sustain price increases in response to commodity price increases, our operating results will likely be adversely affected. We utilize derivative contracts to manage commodity price risks at BHE.

BHE’s exposures to commodities include variations in the price of fuel required to generate electricity, wholesale electricity purchased and sold and natural gas supply for customers. Commodity prices are subject to wide price swings as supply and demand are impacted by, among many other unpredictable items, weather, market liquidity, generating facility availability, customer usage, storage and transmission and transportation constraints.

To mitigate a portion of the price volatility, BHE uses derivative instruments, including forwards, futures, options, swaps and other agreements, to effectively secure future supply or sell future production generally at fixed prices. The settled cost of these contracts is generally recoverable from customers in regulated rates. Financial results would be negatively impacted if the costs of wholesale electricity, fuel or natural gas are greater than what is permitted to be recovered in rates. The table that follows summarizes commodity price risk on energy derivative contracts of BHE as of December 31, 2016 and 2015 and shows the effects of a hypothetical 10% increase and a 10% decrease in forward market prices by the expected volumes for these contracts as of each date. The selected hypothetical change does not reflect the best or worst case scenarios. Dollars are in millions.

 

    

Fair Value
Net Assets
(Liabilities)

    

Hypothetical Price Change

  

Estimated Fair Value after
Hypothetical Change in
Price

December 31, 2016

   $ (87)      10% increase    $(18)
      10% decrease    (156)

December 31, 2015

   $ (233)      10% increase    $(152)
      10% decrease    (313)

FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

Investors are cautioned that certain statements contained in this document as well as some statements in periodic press releases and some oral statements of Berkshire officials during presentations about Berkshire or its subsidiaries are “forward-looking” statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (the “Act”). Forward-looking statements include statements which are predictive in nature, which depend upon or refer to future events or conditions, which include words such as “expects,” “anticipates,” “intends,” “plans,” “believes,” “estimates” or similar expressions. In addition, any statements concerning future financial performance (including future revenues, earnings or growth rates), ongoing business strategies or prospects and possible future Berkshire actions, which may be provided by management, are also forward-looking statements as defined by the Act. Forward-looking statements are based on current expectations and projections about future events and are subject to risks, uncertainties and assumptions about Berkshire and its subsidiaries, economic and market factors and the industries in which we do business, among other things. These statements are not guarantees of future performance and we have no specific intention to update these statements.

Actual events and results may differ materially from those expressed or forecasted in forward-looking statements due to a number of factors. The important risk factors that could cause our actual performance and future events and actions to differ materially from such forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, changes in market prices of our investments in fixed maturity and equity securities, losses realized from derivative contracts, the occurrence of one or more catastrophic events, such as an earthquake, hurricane, act of terrorism or cyber attack that causes losses insured by our insurance subsidiaries and/or losses to our business operations, changes in laws or regulations affecting our insurance, railroad, utilities and energy and finance subsidiaries, changes in federal income tax laws, and changes in general economic and market factors that affect the prices of securities or the industries in which we do business.

 

 

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Item 7A. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

See “Market Risk Disclosures” contained in Item 7 “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.”

Management’s Report on Internal Control Over Financial Reporting

Management of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is responsible for establishing and maintaining adequate internal control over financial reporting, as such term is defined in the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 Rule 13a-15(f). Under the supervision and with the participation of our management, including our principal executive officer and principal financial officer, we conducted an evaluation of the effectiveness of the Company’s internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2016 as required by the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 Rule 13a-15(c). In making this assessment, we used the criteria set forth in the framework in Internal Control—Integrated Framework (2013) issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission. Based on our evaluation under the framework in Internal Control—Integrated Framework (2013), our management concluded that our internal control over financial reporting was effective as of December 31, 2016.

The effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2016 has been audited by Deloitte & Touche LLP, an independent registered public accounting firm, as stated in their report which appears on page 63.

Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

February 24, 2017

 

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Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

REPORT OF INDEPENDENT REGISTERED PUBLIC ACCOUNTING FIRM

To the Board of Directors and Shareholders of

Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

Omaha, Nebraska

We have audited the accompanying consolidated balance sheets of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and subsidiaries (the “Company”) as of December 31, 2016 and 2015, and the related consolidated statements of earnings, comprehensive income, changes in shareholders’ equity, and cash flows for each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 2016. We also have audited the Company’s internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2016, based on criteria established in Internal Control—Integrated Framework (2013) issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission. The Company’s management is responsible for these financial statements, for maintaining effective internal control over financial reporting, and for its assessment of the effectiveness of internal control over financial reporting, included in the accompanying Management’s Report on Internal Control over Financial Reporting. Our responsibility is to express an opinion on these financial statements and an opinion on the Company’s internal control over financial reporting based on our audits.

We conducted our audits in accordance with the standards of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States). Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain reasonable assurance about whether the financial statements are free of material misstatement and whether effective internal control over financial reporting was maintained in all material respects. Our audits of the financial statements included examining, on a test basis, evidence supporting the amounts and disclosures in the financial statements, assessing the accounting principles used and significant estimates made by management, and evaluating the overall financial statement presentation. Our audit of internal control over financial reporting included obtaining an understanding of internal control over financial reporting, assessing the risk that a material weakness exists, and testing and evaluating the design and operating effectiveness of internal control based on the assessed risk. Our audits also included performing such other procedures as we considered necessary in the circumstances. We believe that our audits provide a reasonable basis for our opinions.

A company’s internal control over financial reporting is a process designed by, or under the supervision of, the company’s principal executive and principal financial officers, or persons performing similar functions, and effected by the company’s board of directors, management, and other personnel to provide reasonable assurance regarding the reliability of financial reporting and the preparation of financial statements for external purposes in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. A company’s internal control over financial reporting includes those policies and procedures that (1) pertain to the maintenance of records that, in reasonable detail, accurately and fairly reflect the transactions and dispositions of the assets of the company; (2) provide reasonable assurance that transactions are recorded as necessary to permit preparation of financial statements in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, and that receipts and expenditures of the company are being made only in accordance with authorizations of management and directors of the company; and (3) provide reasonable assurance regarding prevention or timely detection of unauthorized acquisition, use, or disposition of the company’s assets that could have a material effect on the financial statements.

Because of the inherent limitations of internal control over financial reporting, including the possibility of collusion or improper management override of controls, material misstatements due to error or fraud may not be prevented or detected on a timely basis. Also, projections of any evaluation of the effectiveness of the internal control over financial reporting to future periods are subject to the risk that the controls may become inadequate because of changes in conditions, or that the degree of compliance with the policies or procedures may deteriorate.

In our opinion, the consolidated financial statements referred to above present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and subsidiaries as of December 31, 2016 and 2015, and the results of their operations and their cash flows for each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 2016, in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America. Also, in our opinion, the Company maintained, in all material respects, effective internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2016, based on the criteria established in Internal Control—Integrated Framework (2013) issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission.

/s/ Deloitte & Touche LLP

Omaha, Nebraska

February 24, 2017

 

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BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY INC.

and Subsidiaries

CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS

(dollars in millions)

 

     December 31,  
   2016      2015  

ASSETS

     

Insurance and Other:

     

Cash and cash equivalents and U.S. Treasury Bills:

     

Cash and cash equivalents

   $ 23,581      $ 56,612  

U.S. Treasury Bills

     47,338        4,569  
  

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total cash, cash equivalents and U.S. Treasury Bills

     70,919        61,181  

Investments:

     

Fixed maturity securities

     23,432        25,988  

Equity securities

     120,471        110,527  

Other

     14,364        15,683  

Investments in The Kraft Heinz Company (Fair Value: 2016 – $28,418, 2015 – $32,042)

     15,345        23,424  

Receivables

     27,097        23,303  

Inventories

     15,727        11,916  

Property, plant and equipment

     19,325        15,540  

Goodwill

     53,994        37,188  

Other intangible assets

     33,481        9,148  

Deferred charges reinsurance assumed

     8,047        7,687  

Other

     7,126        6,697  
  

 

 

    

 

 

 
     409,328        348,282  
  

 

 

    

 

 

 

Railroad, Utilities and Energy:

     

Cash and cash equivalents

     3,939        3,437  

Property, plant and equipment

     123,759        120,279  

Goodwill

     24,111        24,178  

Regulatory assets

     4,457        4,285  

Other

     13,550        12,833  
  

 

 

    

 

 

 
     169,816        165,012  
  

 

 

    

 

 

 

Finance and Financial Products:

     

Cash and cash equivalents and U.S. Treasury Bills:

     

Cash and cash equivalents

     528        7,112  

U.S. Treasury Bills

     10,984        —    
  

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total cash, cash equivalents and U.S. Treasury Bills

     11,512        7,112  

Investments in equity and fixed maturity securities

     408        411  

Other investments

     2,892        5,719  

Loans and finance receivables

     13,300        12,772  

Property, plant and equipment and assets held for lease

     9,689        9,347  

Goodwill

     1,381        1,342  

Other

     2,528        2,260  
  

 

 

    

 

 

 
     41,710        38,963  
  

 

 

    

 

 

 
   $ 620,854      $ 552,257  
  

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

See accompanying Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements

 

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BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY INC.

and Subsidiaries

CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS

(dollars in millions)

 

<
     December 31,  
   2016     2015  

LIABILITIES AND SHAREHOLDERS’ EQUITY

    

Insurance and Other:

    

Losses and loss adjustment expenses

   $ 76,918     $ 73,144  

Unearned premiums

     14,245       13,311  

Life, annuity and health insurance benefits

     15,977       14,497