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Debbie contributes to weaker Berkshire result

Berkshire Hathaway has posted a net underwriting loss of $US289 million ($364 million) for the first half, including costs from Cyclone Debbie, compared with a profit of $US550 million ($630 million) in the corresponding period last year.

The General Re business’ underwriting result included estimated losses of $US50 million ($63 million) from the cyclone, while Berkshire Hathaway Reinsurance Group (BHRG) recorded losses of $US115 million ($145 million) due to the event.

The group says neither division incurred significant catastrophe losses in the first six months of last year.

BHRG has reported an overall pre-tax loss of $US1 billion ($1.3 billion), compared with a gain of $US105 million ($132 million) a year earlier, with the result weighed down by weakness across property and casualty, retroactive reinsurance and life and annuity.

The General Re underwriting result deteriorated to a $US118 million ($149 million) loss from a $US44 million ($55 million) gain.

US car insurance business Geico posted a profit of $US294 million ($370 million), down from $US414 million ($522 million) as claims costs grew faster than premiums earned.

Earnings at the Berkshire Hathaway Primary Group, which provides a variety of commercial insurance products, increased to $US421 million ($531 million) from $US295 million ($372 million).

Insurance net investment income was little changed at $US1.87 billion ($2.36 billion).

Berkshire Hathaway’s total earnings, which include contributions from railroad, utilities and energy, slipped to $US8.32 billion ($10.5 billion) from $US10.59 billion ($13.35 billion) in the half, and to $US4.26 billion ($5.37 billion) from $5 billion ($6.3 billion) in the second quarter.

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