Berkshire Hathaway continues to see the reinsurance business as a low return business and is pulling back from the sector in its own underwriting and in its ownership stake in other underwriters.
Berkshire has again cut its stake in Munich, Germany-based reinsurer Munich Re, this time from 9.7 percent to 4.6 percent. It previously cut its stake from 12 percent to just over 9 percent earlier in 2015.
Berkshire’s own reinsurance business has been less than stellar this year with Berkshire reporting$155 million in losses from storm damage on Australia’s east coast in the 2nd quarter of 2015.
“The reinsurance business not as good as it once was and is unlikely to get better,” Charlie Munger said at the 2015 Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting. “Money has come in, not because they want to be in reinsurance, but because it’s an uncorrelated asset class. We’re in it for the long haul.”
Uncorrelated (also called non-correlated) asset classes are assets that move in the opposite direction of a particular asset class, thus helping investors reduce risk in exchange for lower upside performance.
Munger’s words were echoed by Ajit Jain, who is the head of Berkshire Hathaway Reinsurance. “What was a very lucrative business is no longer a very lucrative business going forward” Jain was quoted in The Wall Street Journal.
© 2015 David Mazor
Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.