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Sun, Feb 22, 2009 - Page 10 News List

Berkshire shares hit five-year low below US$74,000

AP , OMAHA, NEBRASKA

Shares of billionaire Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc have fallen to their lowest level in more than five years.

The Class A shares of the Omaha-based company fell 6.3 percent, to US$73,677.30 around midday on Friday.

That drop surpassed the previous low of US$74,100 set in November.

Berkshire shares rebounded to close at US$77,000 on Friday, down 2 percent.

Berkshire’s Class A shares are still the most expensive US stock, but they’ve lost more than half their value since setting a high of US$151,650 in December 2007. That came after an exceptionally profitable quarter that was helped by a US$2 billion investment gain.

The decline in Berkshire’s stock price has had a significant effect on the value of Buffett’s fortune.

Buffett’s Berkshire stock was worth roughly US$32 billion at Friday’s closing prices — much less than the US$62 billion estimate Forbes magazine used last March when Buffett was named the world’s richest man.

Berkshire’s stock declined throughout the past year as the economy worsened, Berkshire’s insurance profits diminished and the value of its derivatives tied to stock market indexes declined.

Unrealized investment losses of about US$1 billion weighed on the third-quarter results Berkshire reported in November, although the company still posted net income of US$1.06 billion.

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