Analyst Jay Gelb raised his rating on the company to overweight from neutral, noting that the stock trades at near its historic lows at 1.01 times its book value.
"Led by Warren Buffett, we expect Berkshire Hathaway to generate impressive results in Manufacturing, Service & Retail, as well as the Burlington Northern railroad operations, with stable results in Insurance (Berkshire's largest business) and Utilities, with perhaps volatile investment results," Gelb wrote in an industry report. "While Berkshire has higher exposure to equities than other P&C insurers we cover, we believe the impact appears manageable."
Berkshire's cash position is also growing, suggesting more acquisitions might be in the offing.The analyst, however, continues to be concerned about Buffett's succession plan, as he is considered "synonymous with Berskhire." "Berkshire's ability to execute accretive acquisitions is an important strategic advantage. CEO succession risk remains elevated in our view due to a lack of a known successor to Warren Buffett," the report said. Barclays also upgraded Chubb (CB) and Progressive (PGR), citing attractive valuations for the highest quality insurance franchises. --Written by Shanthi Bharatwaj in New York
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