Warren Buffett, primary shareholder, chairman, and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRKA) (NYSE:BRKB) released his annual letter to shareholders today after Friday’s closing bell. As usual, Buffet’s letter contained a mix of prescient market analysis and folksy wit.
Gains tied to derivatives wagers brought Berkshire Hathaway’s fourth-quarter profit up 49 percent while net income was raised from $1,846 a share to $2,757 a share.
Despite a gain of $24.1 billion, Warren Buffett characterized Berkshire Hathaway’s performance in 2012 as “subpar” since “Berkshire’s percentage increase in book value was less than the S&P’s percentage gain.”
Buffet praised the performance of Berkshire Hathaway’s “Big Four” investments: Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC), Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO), IBM (NYSE:IBM), and American Express (NYSE:AXP); saying, “Mae West had it right: ‘Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.’”
Buffett has been gradually increasing Berkshire Hathaway’s stake in Wells Fargo over the last several years, reaching 8.7 percent by the end of the fourth quarter last year, a 1.1 percent increase from 2011. Berkshire’s percentage of Wells Fargo’s stock was worth $15.592 billion at the end of last year, making it Berkshire’s largest stake in a public company. For many years the previous top holding for Berkshire was Coca-Cola .