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Famed Investor Lists Concerns but Puts Money on America

Buffett: Progress in creating a more perfect nation often has been discouraging
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 27, 2021 2:10 PM CST

(Newser) – Warren Buffett has been unusually quiet during the pandemic, but he's kept his annual appointment with his shareholders. The chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway released his closely watched assessment Saturday, Axios reports. On many fronts, Buffett expressed frustration in the letter. The nation still holds onto its "constitutional aspiration of becoming 'a more perfect union,'" Buffett wrote, but "progress on that front has been slow, uneven and often discouraging." US electrical utilities "need a massive makeover in which the ultimate costs will be staggering," he said. Because interest rates for bonds are low, retirees—as well as pension funds, insurance companies, and other fixed-income investors—can expect "a bleak future." Still, Buffett wrote, "Our unwavering conclusion: Never bet against America."

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The famed Omaha investor documented a few ways he's betting on America. Berkshire Hathaway's US assets—property, plants and equipment—are valued at more than any other company's in the country, per CNBC. "Berkshire's depreciated cost of these domestic 'fixed assets' is $154 billion," he wrote. "Next in line on this list is AT&T, with property, plant and equipment of $127 billion." And the conglomerate spent a record $24.7 billion last year buying back its stock. The letter included financial results for Berkshire's holdings. Overall profit received a boost from the company's stocks, including its 5% share of Apple. But operating profit fell 9%, the letter said, to $21.9 billion. The letter gave investors no clues about future major acquisitions, or if Buffett has any plans for the $138 billion in cash Berkshire's holding onto. He gave no hints about succession, either. Buffett is 90. He's had both doses of coronavirus vaccine. (Read more Warren Buffett stories.)

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