Shareholders lost $49.7 billion in the first three months of 2020, including after-tax losses, according to a regulatory filing, largely from a decline in market prices of equity securities.
"Prior to the middle of March, many of our operating business were experiencing comparative revenue and earning increases over 2019," the filing said. "As efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic accelerated in the second half of March and continued through April, most of our businesses were negatively affected."
The Omaha, Neb.,-based holding company owns Geico, Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad, Dairy Queen, Duracell battery company and other firms.
The filing noted that the impact from COVID-19 on businesses ranged from "relatively minor to severe."
Some of Berkshire Hathaway's businesses, such as the railroad and insurance companies, were deemed essential and continued to operate, but retail businesses were "severely impacted" due to closures, the filing said. As a result, there have been furloughs, and wage and salary reductions to mitigate the economic losses.
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