Many of the companies Berkshire owns outright — including MidAmerican Energy, Lubrizol chemicals and HomeServices of America — together made 26 smaller acquisitions for $2.3 billion last year.
Kilpatrick said he was impressed with the report because for the first time in several years, it looks like all parts of Berkshire are performing well, and it looks like the 82-year-old Buffett is doing well after a prostate cancer scare last year.
"He looks to be in terrific health, and the company looks to be in terrific health," Kilpatrick said.
Buffett did not offer any new details in the letter on the plan to eventually replace him. He has said Berkshire's board plans to split Buffett's job into three roles: CEO, chairman and investment management. The board knows who it would choose immediately to succeed him as CEO.
The investment piece seems set with the recent hiring of hedge fund managers, Todd Combs and Ted Weschler. They manage portfolios worth about $5 billion while Buffett continues to make most of Berkshire's investment decisions. Buffett praised both on Friday.
"Todd Combs and Ted Weschler, our new investment managers, have proved to be smart, models of integrity, helpful to Berkshire in many ways beyond portfolio management, and a perfect cultural fit. We hit the jackpot with these two," Buffett said.
In his letter, Buffett defended the newspaper investments he made last year. But mostly his comments just elaborated on what he's said previously about newspapers that are the primary source of information about their communities will continue delivering decent returns.
Berkshire will own 28 daily newspapers in small and mid-sized cities once its acquisition of the Tulsa World is complete. Berkshire bought 63 Media General newspapers last year for $142 million.
"Wherever there is a pervasive sense of community, a paper that serves the special informational needs of that community will remain indispensable to a significant portion of its residents," Buffett said.
Berkshire owns roughly 80 subsidiaries, including railroad, clothing, furniture and jewelry firms, but its insurance and utility businesses typically account for more than half of the company's net income. The Omaha, Neb., company employs more than 288,000 and holds major investments in such companies as Coca-Cola Co., IBM and Wells Fargo & Co.
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Berkshire Hathaway Inc.: www.berkshirehathaway.com