Warren Buffett warns investors that safe-looking bonds can be risky

New US Tax Law Brings Warren Buffett A Nice Cheque $29 Billion

Net earnings of Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway rose from $24.07 billion to $44.94 billion in one year

Buffett had a mixed reaction to the tax overhaul passed by Congress previous year.

Buffett's yearly check-in with his company's shareholders is a closely watched event on Wall Street and Main Street.

Before the law was passed, Buffett had said at Berkshire Hathaway's annual meeting in May that the tax law could impact the company's earnings, according to a Yahoo Finance report.

The company is sitting on that pile of cash while Buffett waits for an "elephant" - a big company - to buy. Buffett details in his annual letter the many business activities that led to that gain - including, he writes, investments in American companies, which helped Berkshire's non-insurance businesses realize a $950 million gain in pre-tax income over 2016.

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Buffett told investors that Berkshire Hathaway made a $65.3 billion net gain in 2017 - but "only $36 billion came from Berkshire's operations".

Buffett concluded with a little advice to fellow investors: 'Though markets are generally rational, they occasionally do insane things, ' he wrote. "The remaining $29 billion was delivered to us in December when Congress rewrote the US Tax Code".

Price proved to be the barrier to a new, big-time acquisition in 2017, Buffett said.

It has been more than two years since Berkshire made a major purchase, the $32.1 billion takeover of aircraft parts maker Precision Castparts Corp. Over the past 53 years, Berkshire has grown its per-share book value at a 19.1% rate compounded annually, better than the 9.9% gain for the S&P 500 stock index, including dividends.

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Berkshire's overall performance was hurt by an after-tax $2.2 billion loss in its insurance underwriting unit, which had to pay out large claims following Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, as well as for quake victims in Mexico and people hurt by California's wildfires. That was almost double the previous year's $24.1 billion, or $9.76 per B share, because of the effects of the tax law. And it holds major investments in such companies as Coca-Cola Co., Apple and Wells Fargo & Co.

Buffett said Berkshire would stick with a 'simple guideline: The less the prudence with which others conduct their affairs, the greater the prudence with which we must conduct our own'.

Buffett says using borrowed cash to buy stocks, or "buying on margin", is a no-no for individual investors.

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