Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A) (NYSE:BRK.B) is set to report its earnings for the three months through September this afternoon after the market closes. Warren Buffett’s company is such a diversified business that it can be used to measure the general performance of the United States economy.

Berkshire Hathaway

Analysts following Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A) (NYSE:BRK.B) were looking for the company to show earnings per A class share of $2,442.98. In the same three months of 2012 the company earned $2057 per share.

Berkshire Hathaway earnings

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A) (NYSE:BRK.B) made one really big move in the third quarter, and it’s bound to feature in this earnings report. The company decided to acquire half of food maker H.J. Heinz Company (NYSE:HNZ) last June. Berkshire investors will be keen to hear about that company’s performance since becoming part of Berkshire.

The biggest contributors to the Berkshire bottom line are likely to remain the firm’s insurance companies, along with its railroads. Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A) (NYSE:BRK.B) has somewhere in the region of 80 different subsidiaries all operating in different types of business. That’s what makes the company so diversified.

Warren Buffett’s plans

As any big Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A) (NYSE:BRK.B) event draws near, investors are waiting for an announcement from Warren Buffett about his future at the company. The 84-year-old is fit and healthy, but his age and the monumental sway he holds on the imaginations of investors mean that his retirement is one of the most important narratives around the company.

Despite the risks surrounding Buffett’s leadership and the company’s poor second half in 2012, shares in Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A) (NYSE:BRK.B) have exploded upward in 2013. Since the year began the shares have gained close to 30%.

Berkshire’s Class A shares sell for more than $170,000 each, making them one of the most expensive issues of common stock on the market. That makes the 30% rise in their price even more remarkable. An average of around 450 Class A shares in the company are traded every day.

Warren Buffett is unlikely to make any big changes to his succession plan this afternoon, nor is he likely to announce his retirement from the lead at Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A) (NYSE:BRK.B). Investors will be watching for both, however, because of the monumental effect a change at the top could have on the company.