Berkshire Hathaway Class A vs. Class B Shares: What's the Difference? (2024)

Berkshire Hathaway Class A vs. Class B Shares: An Overview

Investors interested in buying into Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway have two options: Class A stock (BRK.A) and Class B stock (BRK.B). The two types of shares each provide access to the famous conglomerate, but they have important differences.

The main difference between the two types of shares is their price. On July 17, 2023, the company's Class A shares closed at $523,500 pershare. Compare that to the more affordable Class B shares, which closed at $344.25 on the same day.

Key Takeaways

  • Berkshire Hathaway Class A is the company's original stock offering, known for its stratospheric price per share.
  • Berkshire Hathaway Class B shares, first issued in 1996, are more modestly priced and have a correspondingly modest share of equity value in the company.
  • There can be minor differences between the two in market performance, but the key difference is that Class B is affordable to small investors.

Berkshire History and the Introduction of Class B Shares

Berkshire Hathaway was content with its highly valued, single class of stock. But the market demanded a lower-priced, more common-stock nibble at the Berkshire pie, given that shares were trading for around $30,000 at that time.

So in 1996, chief executive officer (CEO) Warren Buffett and the board responded by issuing 517,500 shares of Class B shares. This allowed anyone interested to invest in the company for 1/30th the price (and equity) of a Class A share of stock. A 50-to-1 stock split in 2010 sent the ratio to 1/1,500th, which means each share of a Class A common stock was convertible at any time to 1,500 shares of Class B common stock.

Class B shares carried correspondingly lower voting rights as well (of the voting rights of a Class A share 1/200th of the per-share voting rights. later changed to 1/10,000th) and Buffett marketed Class B shares as a long-term investment and as an open-ended offering, so as to prevent volatility as a result of supply concerns.

On May 1, 2021, vice chair Charlie Munger unofficially announced that Warren Buffett would be succeeded as CEO by Greg Abel when Buffett eventually steps down. Abel is CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Energy and vice chairman in charge of noninsurance operations.

Why 2 Share Classes?

The main reason why Class B shares were introduced was to allow investors to purchase the stock directly instead of buying a sliver of a share through unit trusts or mutual funds that mirror Berkshire Hathaway's holdings. After all, the majority of individual shareholders just can't afford the sky-high price of a single Class A share. As of July 20, 2023, the stock closed at $526,130.

Buffett explained the action in his 1996 annual letter to shareholders:

"As I have told you before, we made this sale [of Class B] in response to the threatened creation of unit trusts that would have marketed themselves as Berkshire look-alikes. In the process, they would have used our past, and definitely non-repeatable, record to entice naïve small investors and would have charged these innocents high fees and commissions."

If the stock was left in the hands of unit trusts, "Berkshire would have been burdened with both hundreds of thousands of unhappy, indirect owners (trust holders, that is) and a stained reputation."

Key Differences

Buffett insists that the Class A shares will never experience a stock split because he believes the high share price attracts like-minded investors, those focused on long-term profits rather than on short-term price fluctuations.

Along with being more accessible to retail investors, Class B shares offer the benefit of flexibility. If an investor owns just one share of Class A and is in need of some cash, the only option is to sell that single share, even if its price far exceeds the amount of money they need to access.

In contrast, a holder of Class B shares can liquidate part of their Berkshire Hathaway holdings just up to the amount needed to meet cash flow requirements. Class B also provides apotential tax benefit: The much lower price means that Class B stock can be passed to heirs without triggering the gift tax the way passing Class A shares does.

One final difference is that Class A shares can be converted into an equivalent amount of Class B shares any time a Class A shareholder wishes to do so. The conversion privilege does not exist in reverse. Class B shareholders can only convert their holdings to Class A by selling their Class B shares and then buying the equivalent in Class A.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Berkshire Hathaway Class A and Class B Shares

Given the astronomical price of Class A shares, most investors do not have much of an option of which type of share to buy if they're interested in Berkshire. For investors who are able to make a decision between investing in a smaller number of Class A shares or a much larger number of Class B shares, there are a few pros and cons of each to keep in mind.


Class A shares historically tend to slightly outperform Class B shares, but this is by no means a guaranteed outcome in the future. Keep in mind that this may be due to different pools of investors and market dynamics.

Class A shares also offer the convenience of a long-term investment without much possibility of a stock split down the line.

Investors looking for flexibility or without a great deal of money have the option to invest in Berkshire's Class B shares. As such, someone looking to adjust their stake in Berkshire in a more granular way will likely prefer the dramatically lower price of this stock. With an equivalent investment in Class B shares, an investor has the opportunity to sell off a portion of their holdings in order to generate an artificial dividend or to better balance a portfolio.


One of the most obvious drawbacks to investing in the company is the price of the Class A share. There really is no way for the average investor to purchase even a single share in the company. Even investing in a mutual fund or exchange-traded fund (ETF) that has Class A shares in its portfolio won't guarantee that you get the equivalent of a single share of this stock.

Because there is more flexibility in Class B shares than Class A shares of Berkshire Hathaway, investors may expect a stock split in the future, thereby diluting their interests in the company.


  • Class A shares outperform Class B shares

  • Long-term investment option with Class A share

  • Class B shares offer greater flexibility


  • Costly Class A shares

  • Possible stock splits in Class B shares may dilute ownership

Why Doesn't Berkshire Hathaway Stock Split?

Warren Buffet has stated that he would never split the class-A shares of Berkshire Hathaway, even though they trade at almost $530,000 per share. His reasoning is that he wants to only attract long-term, high-quality buy-and-hold investors (like himself) and to discourage scalpers and day traders. Instead, the Class B shares trade at a more reasonable $345 per share.

Why Do Some Stocks Have 2 Classes (A & B Shares)?

Several companies offer more than one share class to the public. Class A shares will typically grant more voting rights than other classes. This difference is often only pertinent for shareholders who take an active role in the company. Nevertheless, because of the voting rights, A-shares are often more valuable than B shares. Some companies even have three or more share classes, in some special circ*mstances.

Can a Shareholder Convert Berkshire A Shares Into B Shares?

Each share of Class A Common Stock is convertible, at the option of the holder, into 1,500 shares of Class B Common Stock. Shares of Class B Common Stock are not convertible into shares of Class A Common Stock.

How Many Berkshire Hathaway Shares Are There?

There are 1.45 million Berkshire Hathaway Class A (BRK.A) shares outstanding. More than 2.17 billion Class B (BRK.B) shares were outstanding as of July 20, 2023.

The Bottom Line

As CEO, Warren Buffet has helped Berkshire Hathaway become one of the most valuable companies in the world. The company's Class A shares are among the world's most coveted stocks. That's because it comes with great value but also a hefty price tag, which makes it out of reach of the average investor. If you're looking for a way to reap the benefits of investing in the company, consider Berkshire's Class B shares. As with any other investment venture, make sure they align with your goals and investment philosophy.

Berkshire Hathaway Class A vs. Class B Shares: What's the Difference? (2024)


Berkshire Hathaway Class A vs. Class B Shares: What's the Difference? ›

Key Takeaways

Is it better to buy Class A or Class B shares? ›

Class A shares generally have more voting power and higher priority for dividends, while Class B shares are common shares with no preferential treatment. Class C shares can refer to shares given to employees or alternate share classes available to public investors, with varying restrictions and voting rights.

Should I buy Berkshire Hathaway Class A or B shares? ›

Berkshire created two share classes in 1996 to make investing more accessible. Both share classes offer essentially the same exposure to the company's success. Most investors are better off sticking with Class B shares for their flexibility and affordability.

Are Class B shares worth anything? ›

Class B mutual fund shares are seen to be a good investment if investors have less cash and a longer time horizon. To avoid the exit fee, an investor should typically remain in the fund for five to eight years.

Can you convert Berkshire Hathaway A shares to B shares? ›

Berkshire has two classes of common stock designated Class A Common Stock and Class B Common Stock. Each share of Class A Common Stock is convertible, at the option of the holder, into 30 shares of Class B Common Stock.

Do Class B shares pay dividends? ›

If you retain B Shares you will receive cash dividends on the B Shares twice a year fixed at 75 per cent of the interest rate known as LIBOR. The example below will give you an idea of the sort of return you can expect should you decide to retain your B Shares.

What is the point of Class B shares? ›

Commonly, Class B shares are held by promoters or senior management of a company and carry significantly higher voting rights than Class A shares. It effectively allows firms to raise capital (by selling Class A shares) while retaining control of voting (and retaining Class B shares).

Why would someone buy BRK a over brk b? ›

Key Takeaways. Berkshire Hathaway Class A is the company's original stock offering, known for its stratospheric price per share. Berkshire Hathaway Class B shares, first issued in 1996, are more modestly priced and have a correspondingly modest share of equity value in the company.

Should I buy S&P 500 or Berkshire Hathaway? ›

Its Relative Strength Rating of 84 means it has outperformed 84% of stocks in terms of price performance over the past 12 months. Berkshire Hathaway stock held strong in 2022, making a slight gain compared to a loss of more than 19% for the S&P 500.

What will brk b be worth in 10 years? ›

According to the latest long-term forecast, Berkshire Hathaway price will hit $450 by the end of 2024 and then $500 by the end of 2025. Berkshire Hathaway will rise to $600 within the year of 2027, $700 in 2028, $800 in 2030, $900 in 2033 and $1000 in 2035.

Can Class B shares convert to Class A? ›

Conversion. Each Class B ordinary share is convertible into one Class A ordinary share at any time by the holder thereof.

Are Class B shares taxable? ›

In general, investors who hold Class B shares for more than a year will be subject to long-term capital gains tax rates, which are generally lower than short-term rates.

Why would you buy Class A shares? ›

Investors anticipating large purchases should consider Class A rather than Class C shares because the former typically offer sales- charge discounts (“breakpoints”), in some cases beginning at investments of $25,000, which increase as the size of your investment increases.

Does Berkshire Hathaway pay a dividend? ›

Despite being a large, mature, and stable company, Berkshire Hathaway does not pay dividends to its investors. Instead, the company chooses to reinvest retained earnings into new projects, investments, and acquisitions.

Can you buy 1 share of Berkshire Hathaway? ›

If you want to invest in Berkshire Hathaway, you can certainly buy some shares of the individual stock, but there is a potentially less risky option: Funds. Funds, such as index funds, exchange-traded funds and mutual funds, are baskets of stocks you can invest in all at once.

Why not just buy Berkshire Hathaway? ›

Berkshire Hathaway doesn't pay dividends

In the comparison to the S&P 500 Index above, the performance figures include reinvested dividends. That is a benefit for the S&P 500, but has no impact on Berkshire Hathaway's performance because the company doesn't pay a dividend.

What is the difference between Class A Class B stock price? ›

Class A shares are usually more expensive compared to Class B shares. This is because Class A shares have more voting rights and receive higher dividend payments. However, the price difference between the two types of shares can vary depending on the company's performance and other factors.

What is the downside of Class A shares? ›

Disadvantages of Class A Shares

Class A shares are very less in number and often do not interest the general public.

Is goog or googl better? ›

GOOG vs. GOOGL: Which Is a Better Investment? Because GOOGL shares come with voting rights, they may be considered more valuable. Shareholders with this type of stock can have a say in Google's corporate policy, vote for the board of directors, and approve or disapprove of any major decisions.

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