NEW YORK, Feb 3 (Reuters) - Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N) (BRKb.N) has raised its stake in Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp (BNI.N) to 22.4 percent, after spending about $174 million on shares of the second-largest U.S. railroad.
Berkshire's National Indemnity Co unit acquired 2.33 million Burlington Northern shares on Jan. 30 through the exercise of put options, at a cost of $75 per share, according to a filing late Monday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Berkshire now owns 76,777,029 Burlington Northern shares, valued at $5.02 billion based on Monday's closing price of $65.43, the filing shows.
The 22.4 percent stake is based on Burlington Northern's reported shares outstanding.
Berkshire has said it might boost its stake in Burlington Northern to 25 percent or more. It acquired much of its stake in the railroad prior to 2008, when Burlington Northern shares typically traded in the $70s and $80s.
Buffett told shareholders at Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire's annual meeting in May 2007 that the railroad business' competitive prospects had improved and are better than they were 30 years earlier.
On Jan. 21, Burlington Northern posted a roughly 19 percent increase in fourth-quarter profit, as higher freight prices, higher fuel surcharges and lower costs offset a decline in carloads. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Derek Caney)
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