- Warren E. Buffett, Annual Letter to Shareholders (2018)
Berkshire’s gain in net worth during 2017 was $65.3 billion, which increased the per-share book value of both our Class A and Class B stock by 23%. Over the last 53 years (that is, since present management took over), per share book value has grown from $19 to $211,750, a rate of 19.1% compounded annually.*
The format of that opening paragraph has been standard for 30 years. But 2017 was far from standard: A large portion of our gain did not come from anything we accomplished at Berkshire.
The $65 billion gain is nonetheless real – rest assured of that. But only $36 billion came from Berkshire’s operations. The remaining $29 billion was delivered to us in December when Congress rewrote the U.S. Tax Code. (Details of Berkshire’s tax-related gain appear on page K-32 and pages K-89 — K-90.)