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Berkshire Hathaway stock hits new milestone at $200,000

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[August 15, 2014]  By Luciana Lopez and Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) - Berkshire Hathaway Inc's share price on Thursday surpassed and closed above $200,000 for the first time, the latest milestone for a company that Warren Buffett has built over nearly five decades into what some analysts view as a microcosm of the U.S. economy.

Class A shares of Berkshire, which have never been split, closed up $3,500, or 1.8 percent, at $202,850, giving the Omaha, Nebraska-based company a market value of more than $333 billion. The share price had earlier rose as high as $203,025.

Berkshire's share price has more than doubled since it first crossed the $100,000 barrier on Oct. 5, 2006. The Standard & Poor's 500 <.SPX> has climbed just 44 percent since that date.

Buffett, who turns 84 on Aug. 30 and is the world's third-richest person, oversees a conglomerate with more than 80 businesses ranging from Geico car insurance to the BNSF railroad to Dairy Queen ice cream, and more than $119 billion of stocks such as Wells Fargo & Co and Coca-Cola Co.

In the second quarter, Berkshire Hathaway posted a record $6.4 billion profit, helped by a stock swap and growing earnings in many businesses, on revenue of $49.76 billion.

By some measures, Berkshire remains moderately priced, trading at about 1.4 times its book value, a measure of assets minus liabilities, in the most recent quarter. Buffett has said he will consider buybacks only at or below a 1.2 times multiple.

Berkshire also has lower-cost Class B shares, which Buffett launched in 1996 to thwart unit investment trusts purporting to be "clones" of Berkshire but which carried high costs.

Those shares now trade at about 1/1,500th of a Class A share and carry voting rights equal to 1/10,000th of a Class A share. They closed on Thursday up $2.22, or 1.7 percent. at $135.30.

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Since 2006, Buffett has been donating Berkshire shares to several charities. He still owns about one-fifth of Berkshire, which was a failing textile company before he took it over in 1965, and controls about one-third of its voting power.

Buffett's net worth was about $66.3 billion after Thursday's market close, Forbes magazine said.

(Reporting by Luciana Lopez and Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Bernadette Baum, Bernard Orr)

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