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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, 2019

OR

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the transition period from              to             

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 No.)

3555 Farnam Street, Omaha, Nebraska

 

68131

(Address of principal executive office)

 

(Zip Code)

Registrant’s telephone number, including area code (402346-1400

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

 

Title of each class

 

Trading Symbols

 

Name of each exchange on which registered

Class A Common Stock

Class B Common Stock

0.750% Senior Notes due 2023

1.125% Senior Notes due 2027

1.625% Senior Notes due 2035

0.500% Senior Notes due 2020

1.300% Senior Notes due 2024

2.150% Senior Notes due 2028

0.250% Senior Notes due 2021

0.625% Senior Notes due 2023

2.375% Senior Notes due 2039

2.625% Senior Notes due 2059

 

BRK.A

BRK.B

BRK23

BRK27

BRK35

BRK20

BRK24

BRK28

BRK21

BRK23A

BRK39

BRK59

 

New York Stock Exchange

New York Stock Exchange

New York Stock Exchange

New York Stock Exchange

New York Stock Exchange

New York Stock Exchange

New York Stock Exchange

New York Stock Exchange

New York Stock Exchange

New York Stock Exchange

New York Stock Exchange

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 (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), 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 every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).    Yes      No  

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

If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the Registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.  

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

State the aggregate market value of the voting stock held by non-affiliates of the Registrant as of June 30, 2019: $417,300,000,000*

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

 

February 13, 2020—Class A common stock, $5 par value

700,396 shares

February 13, 2020—Class B common stock, $0.0033 par value

1,385,994,959 shares

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

Portions of the Proxy Statement for the Registrant’s Annual Meeting to be held May 2, 2020 are incorporated in Part III.

 

*

This aggregate value is computed at the last sale price of the common stock as reported on the New York Stock Exchange on June 30, 2019. It does not include the value of Class A common stock and Class B common stock 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

 

 

 

Page No.

 

Part I

 

 

 

Item 1.

Business Description

K-1

Item 1A.

Risk Factors

K-21

Item 1B.

Unresolved Staff Comments

K-25

Item 2.

Description of Properties

K-25

Item 3.

Legal Proceedings

K-27

Item 4.

Mine Safety Disclosures

K-27

 

Part II

 

 

 

Item 5.

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

K-29

Item 6.

Selected Financial Data

K-31

Item 7.

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

K-32

Item 7A.

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

K-62

Item 8.

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

K-63

 

Consolidated Balance Sheets—
December 31, 2019 and December 31, 2018

K-66

 

Consolidated Statements of Earnings—
Years Ended December 31, 2019, December 31, 2018, and December 31, 2017

K-68

 

Consolidated Statements of Comprehensive Income—
Years Ended December 31, 2019, December 31, 2018, and December 31, 2017

K-69

 

Consolidated Statements of Changes in Shareholders’ Equity—
Years Ended December 31, 2019, December 31, 2018, and December 31, 2017

K-69

 

Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows—
Years Ended December 31, 2019, December 31, 2018, and December 31, 2017

K-70

 

Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements

K-71

 

 

 

Item 9.

Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

K-112

Item 9A.

Controls and Procedures

K-112

Item 9B.

Other Information

K-112

 

Part III

 

 

 

Item 10.

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

K-112

Item 11.

Executive Compensation

K-112

Item 12.

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

K-112

Item 13.

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions and Director Independence

K-112

Item 14.

Principal Accountant Fees and Services

K-112

 

Part IV

 

 

 

Item 15.

Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules

K-112

 

 

Exhibit Index

K-116

Signatures

K-118

 

 


 

 

Part I

Item 1. Business Description

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (“Berkshire,” “Company” or “Registrant”) is a holding company owning subsidiaries engaged in a large 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 numerous other businesses engaged in a variety of activities, as identified herein. Berkshire is domiciled in the state of Delaware, and its corporate headquarters is 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 senior 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 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 391,500 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 and life, accident and health risks worldwide.

In direct or primary 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 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.

 

K-1


 

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.

U.S. states, through the NAIC, and international insurance regulators through the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (“IAIS”) have been developing standards and best practices focused on establishing a common set of principles (“Insurance Core Principles”) and framework (“ComFrame”) for the regulation of large multi-national insurance groups. The standards address a variety of topics regarding supervision, coordination of regulators, insurance capital standards, risk management and governance. While the IAIS standards do not have legal effect, the states and the NAIC are implementing, and are expected to continue to implement, various regulatory tools and mandates.  For example, the U.S. state regulators now require insurance groups to file an annual report, called an Own Risk Solvency Assessment or ORSA, with the group’s lead regulator. U.S. state regulators formed supervisory colleges intended to promote communication and cooperation amongst the various domestic international insurance regulators.  The Nebraska Department of Insurance acts as the lead group wide supervisor for our group of insurance companies and chairs the Berkshire supervisory college. The NAIC is also developing further tools, including a group capital calculation tool and various liquidity assessments, that could be imposed on insurance groups in the future.  

Berkshire’s insurance companies maintain capital strength at exceptionally high levels, which differentiates them from their competitors. Collectively, the combined statutory surplus of Berkshire’s U.S. based insurers was approximately $216 billion at December 31, 2019. 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, 2027 through other Acts, most recently the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2019 (the “2019 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.” Coverage under TRIA occurs if the industry insured loss for certified events occurring during the calendar year exceeds $200 million in 2020, or any calendar year thereafter.

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.

During 2020 and thereafter, in the event of a certified act of terrorism, the federal government will reimburse insurers (conditioned on their satisfaction of policyholder notification requirements) for 80% of their insured losses in excess of an insurance group’s deductible. 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 2020 for Berkshire’s insurance group is expected to approximate $1.3 billion. There is also an aggregate program limit of $100 billion on the amount of the federal government coverage for each TRIA year.

The extent of insurance regulation varies significantly among the countries in which our non-U.S. operations conduct business. While each country imposes licensing, solvency, auditing, and financial reporting requirements, the type and extent of the requirements differ substantially. For example:

 

in some countries, insurers are required to prepare and file monthly and/or quarterly financial reports, and in others, only annual reports;

 

some regulators require intermediaries to be involved in the sale of insurance products, whereas other regulators permit direct sales contact between the insurer and the customer;

 

the extent of restrictions imposed upon an insurer's use of local and offshore reinsurance vary;

 

policy form filing and rate regulation vary by country;

 

the frequency of contact and periodic on-site examinations by insurance authorities differ by country;

 

the scope and prescriptive requirements of an insurer’s risk management and governance framework vary significantly by country; and

 

regulatory requirements relating to insurer dividend policies vary by country.

K-2


 

Significant variations can also be found in the size, structure, and resources of the local regulatory departments that oversee insurance activities. Certain regulators prefer close relationships with all subject insurers and others operate a risk-based approach.

Berkshire’s insurance group operates in some countries through subsidiaries and in some countries through branches of subsidiaries. Berkshire insurance subsidiaries are located in several countries, including Germany, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and South Africa, and also maintain branches in other countries, including Canada, various members of the European Union, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau and Dubai.  Most of these foreign jurisdictions impose local capital requirements. Other legal requirements include discretionary licensing procedures, local retention of funds and records, and data privacy and protection program requirements.  Berkshire’s international insurance companies are also subject to multinational application of certain U.S. laws.

There are various regulatory bodies and initiatives that impact Berkshire in multiple international jurisdictions and the potential for significant effect on the Berkshire insurance group could be heightened as a result of recent industry and economic developments.

On June 23, 2016, the United Kingdom (“UK”) voted in a national referendum to withdraw from the EU (“Brexit”), which resulted in the UK’s withdrawal from the EU on January 31, 2020. In anticipation of the UK leaving the EU, Berkshire Hathaway European Insurance DAC in Ireland was established to permit property and casualty insurance and reinsurance businesses to continue to operate in the European Union following Brexit.  Following the withdrawal of the UK from the EU as result of Brexit, Berkshire expects to continue to maintain a substantial presence in London.

Berkshire’s insurance underwriting operations include the following groups: (1) GEICO, (2) Berkshire Hathaway Primary Group and (3) Berkshire Hathaway Reinsurance Group. Except for retroactive reinsurance and periodic payment annuity products that generate significant amounts of up-front premiums along with estimated claims expected to be paid over very long time periods (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 income earned from investments. Berkshire’s insurance businesses employ approximately 50,000 people. Additional information related to each of Berkshire’s underwriting groups follows.

GEICO—GEICO is headquartered in Chevy Chase, Maryland. GEICO’s 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. The GEICO companies primarily offer private passenger automobile insurance to individuals in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. GEICO also insures motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, recreational vehicles, boats and small commercial fleets and acts as an agent for other insurers who offer homeowners, renters, life and identity management insurance to individuals who desire insurance coverages other than those offered by GEICO.

GEICO’s marketing is primarily through direct response methods in which applications for insurance are submitted directly to the companies via the Internet or by telephone, and to a lesser extent, through captive agents. GEICO conducts business through regional service centers and claims adjustment and other facilities in 39 states.

The automobile insurance business is highly competitive in the areas of price and service. 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. Significant advertising campaigns and competitive rates contributed to a cumulative increase in voluntary policies-in-force of approximately 35% over the past five years. According to most recently published A.M. Best data for 2018, the five largest automobile insurers had a combined market share in 2018 of approximately 57%, with GEICO’s market share being second largest at approximately 13.4%. Since the publication of that data, GEICO’s management estimates its current market share is approximately 13.6%. 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.

State insurance departments stringently regulate private passenger auto insurance. 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 are material assets and management protects it and other service marks through appropriate registrations.

K-3


 

Berkshire Hathaway Primary Group—The Berkshire Hathaway Primary Group (“BH Primary”) is a collection of independently managed insurers 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 commercial motor vehicle and general liability insurance on an admitted basis and on an excess and surplus basis. Insurance coverages are offered nationwide primarily through insurance agents and brokers.

The Berkshire Hathaway Homestate Companies (“BHHC”) is a group of insurers offering workers’ compensation, commercial auto and commercial property coverages to a diverse client base. BHHC has 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. NICO Primary and BHHC are each based in Omaha, Nebraska.

Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance (“BH Specialty”) provides commercial property, casualty, healthcare professional liability, executive and professional lines, surety, travel, medical stop loss and homeowners 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 located in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and several countries in Asia and Europe. 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.

MedPro Group (“MedPro”) is a leading provider of healthcare liability (“HCL”) insurance in the United States. MedPro provides customized HCL 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. Additionally, MedPro provides HCL insurance solutions in Europe, delivers liability insurance to other professionals, and offers specialized accident and health insurance solutions to colleges and other customers through its subsidiaries and other Berkshire affiliates. MedPro is based in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

U.S. Liability Insurance Company (“USLI”) includes a group of five specialty insurers that underwrite commercial, professional and personal lines insurance on an admitted basis, as well as an excess and surplus basis. USLI markets policies in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and Canada through wholesale and retail insurance agents. USLI companies also underwrite and market a wide variety of specialty insurance products. USLI is based in Wayne, Pennsylvania.

The Berkshire Hathaway GUARD Insurance Companies (“GUARD”) is a group of five insurance companies that provide workers’ compensation, business owners’, commercial auto, commercial package and homeowners’ products to over 350,000 small and mid-sized businesses. GUARD also offers complementary professional liability and umbrella products nationwide.  Policies are offered through independent agents and retail and wholesale brokers. GUARD is based in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Central States Indemnity Company of Omaha, based in Omaha, Nebraska, primarily writes Medicare Supplement insurance.

On October 1, 2018, NICO acquired MLMIC Insurance Company (“MLMIC”). MLMIC has been the leading writer of medical professional liability insurance in New York State for over 40 years. MLMIC distributes its policies mostly on a direct basis to medical and dental professionals, health care providers and hospitals. In October 2019, Berkshire sold its 81% interest in Applied Underwriters, Inc. (“Applied”).

Berkshire Hathaway Reinsurance Group—Berkshire’s combined global reinsurance business, referred to as the Berkshire Hathaway Reinsurance Group