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UPDATE 1-Berkshire Hathaway profit up on rails, energy

Friday, 2 Nov 2012 | 9:37 PM ET

Nov 2 (Reuters) - Warren Buffett's conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway Inc reported a larger profit for the third quarter as strength in the railroad and utility businesses, as well as investment gains, offset weaker results in the insurance units.

Berkshire said on Friday that it earned $3.92 billion, or $2,373 per Class A share, compared with $2.28 billion, or $1,380 per share, a year earlier.

The ice-cream-to-insurance conglomerate, which employs more than a quarter-million people worldwide, reported its cash pile grew to $47.78 billion, up $10 billion from the start of the year.

Buffett told CNBC last week that he was ``salivating'' for a major acquisition after two deals of more than $20 billion each fell through in the last few months.

Buffett knocked off a bit of that cash on Friday with a deal to buy toy and party supply company Oriental Trading Co, though at $500 million it has little chance of ``moving the needle,'' as Buffett has said he would like to do.

Berkshire said that underwriting profits in its insurance unit had fallen sharply due to a one-time gain the business reported a year earlier.

The company's Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad generated higher revenue on higher volumes, leading to stronger earnings. Meanwhile, the utilities business was able to charge higher prices, and a real estate brokerage housed within the energy business grew by acquisition, adding to results.

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