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Buffett upbeat on America and Berkshire

Billionaire Warren Buffett expressed his optimism for America and his company despite the pandemic that struck his businesses. In his widely read annual letter for shareholders released Saturday, he wrote, “Never bet against America.”

He also expressed his optimism for Berkshire. The company bought back a record of nearly $25 billion of its stock last year – signaling that investors have undervalued the conglomerate.

His businesses include auto insurer GEICO and the railroad BNSF, whose strong results helped lift quarterly operating income 14%. Gains in stocks like Apple drove the bottom line up 23%.

Curiously, Buffett did not specifically mention the pandemic in his letter even though it led to a loss of more than 31,000 jobs in Berkshire’s workforce.

The health crisis also drained aerospace industry demand for parts, driving his company, Precision Castparts to cut more than 40% of its workers last year. Buffett admitted in the letter that he had overpaid when he shelled out $32 billion to buy it in 2016. He called that mistake “a big one.”

He also disclosed that Berkshire will hold its annual shareholders meeting this year in Los Angeles - not in Omaha, where tens of thousands of people gather every year for what the “Oracle of Omaha” calls the “Woodstock for Capitalists.”