Berkshire falls short of market but Buffett upbeat

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Warren Buffett says Berkshire Hathaway shareholders should be confident in the company’s prospects, even though the firm failed to beat the market last year.

Buffett released an upbeat annual letter Saturday. He told investors in the Omaha, Neb., based conglomerate that just about everything turned out well for Berkshire’s 80-odd subsidiaries last year.

And Buffett says the company has a solid foundation that now includes owning 8 1/2 businesses big enough to be part of the Fortune 500 if they were separate companies.

The latest addition to that list was the ketchup-maker Heinz, which Berkshire bought half of last year. Buffett says that deal will start paying off in 2014 after one-time charges of $1.3 billion related to restructuring and the purchase itself limited Heinz’s profits last year.

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