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Berkshire Hathaway profit jump boosts coffers past $50B

Warren Buffett has never had so much money to spend.

Cash at his Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire Hathaway Inc. rose past $50 billion at the end of June, the first time it finished a quarter above that level since he became chairman and chief executive more than four decades ago.

The stock market hasn't helped an investor who has said he likes to wait for the "fat pitch," an opportunity to buy a company at a price promising favorable returns. Even after last month's decline, the Standard & Poor's 500 index has almost tripled from its 2009 low. Berkshire's size has also become a hindrance because few businesses are big enough to merit Buffett's attention.

"I don't think the list of his 'fat-pitch' companies is all that exhaustive," said David Rolfe, who oversees $8.6 billion including Berkshire stock as chief investment officer of Wedgewood Partners Inc.

Buffett, 83, has struck some of his biggest deals in the last few years, adding to the earnings Berkshire already gets from operating businesses including auto insurer GEICO and railroad BNSF, which was acquired in 2010. Second-quarter net income rose 41 percent to $6.4 billion, the company said in a regulatory filing Friday.

The profits have replenished Berkshire's coffers at a rate of more than $1 billion a month and left him with the challenge of finding bigger investments. Cash stood at about $55.5 billion on June 30, more than double the amount Buffett has said he likes to keep on hand should his insurance businesses have to pay unusually large claims.

Buffett has shunned paying a dividend, arguing that shareholders are better off letting him invest the funds. He rarely buys back shares.

While Buffett has said that low yields made him avoid bonds, not even stocks have tempted him much this year. The filing showed that Berkshire spent $2.05 billion on equities in the first half, about a third of the total from a year earlier. Its sales of stock more than doubled to $2.96 billion.

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