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Supply Issues Hit Berkshire Hathaway Retail Sales


Growth at the retail division of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway slowed in the third quarter as supply-chain disruptions led to an inventory shortage. The division — which includes jewelry chains Borsheims, Helzberg Diamonds and Ben Bridge Jeweler — saw sales increase 8% year on year to $4.5 billion, the company reported last week. That represented a gentler rise than the 48% surge the company noted in the previous quarter. Pretax earnings for the retail unit rose 34% to $414 million. The inventory challenges primarily affected sales of cars, which make up the largest portion of Berkshire’s retail division. “Over the second half of 2020 and through the first six months of 2021, revenues...of [the retailing] businesses increased, and in certain instances increased to levels exceeding those in pre-pandemic periods,” the company explained. “Results in the third quarter of 2021 moderated somewhat relative to the first six months, reflecting the effects of supply-chain disruptions, which, in particular, worsened with respect to new automobiles.” Revenues from manufacturing of consumer products, including jewelry manufacturer Richline Group, increased 18% to $3.93 billion, while pretax earnings slipped 0.4% to $488 million.