The ratings cut does not apply directly to any of Berkshire Hathaway’s reinsurance and insurance units, which include GEICO, General Re, Central States Indemnity Co. and United States Liability Insurance Group.
In addition to its insurance holdings, the company owns dozens of companies in disparate industries. Fitch said the cuts were due to concern about the widely diversified company’s exposure to derivatives losses. In February, Berkshire Hathaway reported a 62% drop in net income from the previous year.
In addition to worries about investment losses, Fitch also cited concerns about the age of the company’s chairman and CIO, Warren Buffett.
For his part, Buffet remains bearish about the insurance industry. In his annual letter to shareholders, Buffet praised the efforts of GEICO and Tony Nicely, its chairman, president and CEO. “As we view GEICO’s current opportunities, Tony and I feel like two hungry mosquitoes in a nudist camp,” Buffett wrote. “Juicy targets are everywhere. First, and most important, our new business in auto insurance is now exploding.”
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