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Global Disasters Generate Insurance Underwriting Loss for Berkshire Hathaway

Warren Buffett tells shareholders for the first time in nine years, Berkshire Hathaway will "likely have an insurance underwriting loss this year."

He expects "this may be a year that the reinsurers will remember" but not because they want to.

Global catastrophes, including the earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand, along with floods in Australia, combined to generate estimated first quarter catastrophe losses of $1.67 billion, pretax.

Buffett says Berkshire estimates an underwriting loss of $821 million in the first quarter, compared to a gain of $226 million in last year's first quarter.

Overall, Berkshire is now estimating that first quarter operating profit will be $1.593 billion, down 28 percent from $2.222 billion in the year-ago quarter.

The company has issued a news releasedetailing the preliminary numbers Buffett is giving shareholders.

The full earnings report for the quarter is expected to be released next Friday, May 6.

Current Berkshire stock prices:

Class B:

Class A:

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