Berkshire Hathaway's Q3 profit

Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s insurers dodged the worst of losses caused by Hurricane Florence as the businesses kept up their rebound from a rough 2017.

The company’s operating profit doubled last quarter, capitalizing on trends ranging from more train traffic on its railroad to a surge in demand for electronic components. The biggest boost came from the insurance division, where catastrophe costs fell almost 90% from last year’s disastrous third quarter, the sharpest decline among all major publicly-traded U.S. insurers.

Chairman Warren Buffett has spent more than 50 years expanding his conglomerate into sectors spanning energy, railroads and manufacturing. Insurance has always been central to Buffett’s strategy, generating cash that the billionaire can then invest before paying claims. The key is avoiding large costs that drag down the other businesses when disasters hit.

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