NEW YORK, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Warren Buffett on Saturday said he needs to make "one or more huge acquisitions" to increase Berkshire Hathaway Inc earnings, but admitted that finding a deal at "a sensible purchase price" has become a challenge.
Berkshire has $116 billion in cash and government bonds that Buffett wants to deploy to increase the earnings of its non-insurance businesses.
"Our smiles will broaden when we have redeployed Berkshire's excess funds into more productive assets," Buffett, who is Berkshire's chief executive, said in his annual letter to shareholders.
But he said that a debt-fueled "purchasing frenzy" binge by deal-hungry chief executives is making that task very difficult.
"Price seemed almost irrelevant to an army of optimistic purchasers," Buffett said. "The ample availability of extraordinarily cheap debt in 2017 further fueled purchase activity."
Berkshire on Saturday reported a record quarterly and annual profit, benefiting from a lower U.S. corporate income tax rate.
Fourth-quarter net income increased roughly fivefold to $32.55 billion, or $19,790 per Class A share, from $6.29 billion, or $3,823 per share, a year earlier. (Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt and Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Mark Potter and Diane Craft)