Numbers don't lie
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Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway recorded record 2013 profits, according to early estimates from analysts at Nomura Holdings Inc. and Keefe Bruyette & Woods. Net income was at least $18 billion in 2013. That compares with $14.8 billion in 2012, the previous record.
This profit growth comes on the back of Buffett's large rescue investments in beleaguered firms in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. Buffett was sitting on cash at the time, and had the opportunity to invest at bargain basement prices when the rest of the financial world was stricken by panic. These investments included stakes in candy-maker Mars, which last year repaid Berkshire for a $4.4 billion loan its subsidiary Wrigley took in 2008, giving Berkshire $680 million in profits. Berkshire's big crisis-era investments also included Goldman Sachs and Bank of America, as well as stakes in Heinz, General Electric, Dow Chemical Co., and Swiss Re Insurance.
There's a saying on Wall Street: Buy the fear, sell the greed. By rescuing companies when the market was in the dumps in 2008, Warren Buffett bought the fear. That strategy is paying off.