Buffett's Berkshire posts big profit as stocks gain

OMAHA, Neb., May 4 (Reuters) - Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc on Saturday swung to a big quarterly profit, bolstered by gains in its stock investments, and also posted a small increase in operating earnings.

The $21.66 billion overall profit, or $13,209 per Class A share, compared with a year-earlier net loss of $1.14 billion, or $692 per share, and a fourth-quarter net loss of $25.39 billion. 

RELATED: Take a look at Berkshire Hathaway's annual shareholders' meeting in 2018: 

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2018 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting
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2018 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting
Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc, tours the exhibit hall at the company's annual meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S., May 5, 2018. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc, talks to a reporter in the exhibit hall at the company's annual meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S., May 5, 2018. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc, walks through the exhibit hall at the company's annual meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S., May 5, 2018. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc, walks through the exhibit hall at the company's annual meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S., May 5, 2018. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
A shareholder holds a drink posing with a cartoon Warren Buffett at the opening cocktail party for the Berkshire Hathaway Inc annual meeting, the largest in corporate America, in its hometown of Omaha, Nebraska U.S. May 4, 2018. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Shareholders wait to the bar to open at the opening cocktail party for the Berkshire Hathaway Inc annual meeting, the largest in corporate America, in its hometown of Omaha, Nebraska U.S. May 4, 2018. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Shareholders walk through the exhibit hall at the Berkshire Hathaway Inc annual meeting, the largest in corporate America, in its hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, U.S., May 4, 2018. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Shareholder Faye Meriwether fans herself with a fan with an image of Warren Buffett at the Berkshire Hathaway Inc annual meeting, the largest in corporate America, in its hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, U.S., May 4, 2018. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
A worker arranges a display of t-shirts with images of Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger at the Berkshire Hathaway Inc annual meeting, the largest in corporate America, in its hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, U.S., May 4, 2018. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc, talks to a reporter in the exhibit hall at the company's annual meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S., May 5, 2018. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Microsoft founder Bill Gates laughs while playing bridge with Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc, as part of the company annual meeting weekend in Omaha, Nebraska U.S. May 6, 2018. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Microsoft founder Bill Gates smiles while playing bridge with Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc, as part of the company annual meeting weekend in Omaha, Nebraska U.S. May 6, 2018. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc, plays bridge as part of the company annual meeting weekend in Omaha, Nebraska U.S. May 6, 2018. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc, pauses while playing bridge as part of the company annual meeting weekend in Omaha, Nebraska U.S. May 6, 2018. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Warren Buffett (L), CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc, and Charlie Munger, vice chairman of Berkshire are seen on a screen at the company's annual meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S., May 5, 2018. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc is seen on a screen at the company's annual meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S., May 5, 2018. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Attendees walk past a photograph of Warren Buffett, chairman and chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., during a shareholders shopping day ahead of the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S., on Friday, May 4, 2018. Berkshire Hathaway Inc. investors should get ready for a bumpy ride. Warren Buffett's company is scheduled to report earnings Saturday morning before its annual meeting, and a new accounting rule could sink results. Photographer: David Williams/Bloomberg via Getty Images
An attendee stands for a photograph with a cardboard cutout of Warren Buffett, chairman and chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., at the Brooks Sports Inc. booth during a shareholders shopping day ahead of the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S., on Friday, May 4, 2018. Berkshire Hathaway Inc. investors should get ready for a bumpy ride. Buffett's company is scheduled to report earnings Saturday morning before its annual meeting, and a new accounting rule could sink results. Photographer: David Williams/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Bernard Hees, chief executive officer of Kraft Heinz Co., center, speaks to a member of the media during a shareholders shopping day ahead of the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S., on Friday, May 4, 2018. Berkshire Hathaway Inc. investors should get ready for a bumpy ride. Warren Buffett's company is scheduled to report earnings Saturday morning before its annual meeting, and a new accounting rule could sink results. Photographer: David Williams/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Warren Buffett, chairman and chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., center, tours the shopping floor ahead of the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S., on Saturday, May 5, 2018. The rules, which require Berkshire to report unrealized gains or losses in equity investments in net income, helped fuel a $1.14 billion loss at Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. in the first quarter. Photographer: David Williams/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Attendees on the exhibit floor during the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S., on Saturday, May 5, 2018. The rules, which require Berkshire to report unrealized gains or losses in equity investments in net income, helped fuel a $1.14 billion loss at Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. in the first quarter. Photographer: David Williams/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Runners compete in the Berkshire Hathaway 'Invest In Yourself' 5K race, presented by Brooks Sports Inc., on the sidelines the Berkshire Hathaway Inc. annual shareholders meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S., on Sunday, May 6, 2018. Tens of thousands of investors descended on Omaha, Nebraska, over the weekend to hear Warren Buffett speak about business and the economy at the annual meeting of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., the conglomerate he's been building for five decades. Photographer: David Williams/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Warren Buffet, chairman and chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., plays bridge at an event on the sidelines of the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholders meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S., on Sunday, May 6, 2018. Buffett said he doesn't want Berkshire Hathaway Inc. being a leader on cyber insurance because neither he nor others in the industry really know the risk. Photographer: David Williams/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. Olympian Ariel Hsing plays table tennis at an event on the sidelines of the Berkshire Hathaway Inc. annual shareholders meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S., on Sunday, May 6, 2018. Berkshire CEO Warren Buffett said he doesn't want Berkshire Hathaway Inc. being a leader on cyber insurance because neither he nor others in the industry really know the risk. Photographer: David Williams/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Bill Gates, billionaire and co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, plays bridge at an event on the sidelines of the Berkshire Hathaway Inc. annual shareholders meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S., on Sunday, May 6, 2018. Berkshire CEO Warren Buffett said he doesn't want Berkshire Hathaway Inc. being a leader on cyber insurance because neither he nor others in the industry really know the risk. Photographer: David Williams/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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These results illustrate what Buffett has called the "wild and capricious" and, in his view, meaningless swings caused by an accounting rule requiring the reporting of unrealized stock gains with earnings, regardless of Berkshire's plans to sell.

Berkshire said operating profit, which Buffett considers a better performance measure, rose 5 percent to $5.56 billion. Operating profit was $5.29 billion, or $3,215 per share, a year earlier.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in Omaha, Nebraska Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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