Berkshire Hathaway on Saturday reported strong operating earnings, which track the actual profit that its array of businesses produce, and a record pile of cash in the first quarter, underscoring the health of the conglomerate run by Warren E. Buffett.

The results provided a positive backdrop for Berkshire’s annual shareholder meeting in downtown Omaha, the company’s hometown. It is the first such gathering for Mr. Buffett’s business empire since the death in November of Charles Munger, Mr. Buffett’s longtime business partner and alter ego, at age 99.

Saturday’s results underscore Mr. Buffett’s repeated admonition that the best way to judge Berkshire — a collection of businesses that includes a major railroad, a substantial power-generation business, insurance, consumer brands including Fruit of the Loom and more — is on operating earnings, not net income.

For the first three months of the year, Berkshire reported $12.7 billion in earnings attributable to its shareholders, down 64 percent from the same time a year ago. Driving the drop was a steep fall in the paper value of Berkshire’s vast investment portfolio though Mr. Buffett has long warned shareholders to ignore fluctuations in the company’s stock holdings.

Berkshire also disclosed that it had trimmed its huge stake in Apple, which Mr. Buffett has called one of his company’s most important holdings, by about 13 percent in the quarter. The value of its stake is now about $135.4 billion, down from $174.3 billion at the end of 2023. (Apple’s chief executive, Tim Cook, is attending the annual meeting.)

But Mr. Buffett said that he remains a big fan of Apple, suggesting that the stock sale was to take some profits off the table. “I would say that at the end of the year it would be extremely likely that Apple would be the largest common stock holding we have now,” he told shareholders on Saturday.


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