Yesterday on CNBC Warren Buffett sat down for a 2-hour interview with Becky Quick and shared his thoughts on a number of financial topics. Here’s a summary and select quotes, with videos and transcript below.
Warren Buffett Interview Summary
– On the economic signals he sees from all his businesses: “The rate of improvement has tapered but certainly hasn’t flattened … Home construction has been disappointing, but our retail figures in January were not strong, but January is a peculiar month. Right now things look fine.” He also noted he sees some signs of inflation in raw material costs.
– On the Federal Reserve & interest rates: “I don’t second guess (Jay Powell) at all. He’s a terrific choice.” He said what the Fed does doesn’t affect what Berkshire does.
– He’s amazed that ten years after the crisis that rates are where they are worldwide (especially negative rates) with the world doing ‘really well’ now. “The real question for investors: are these rates the new normal?”
– On Apple (AAPL): “The lower it goes, the better I like it obviously … If it were cheaper, we’d be buying it. We aren’t buying it here” This quote is interesting considering that AAPL was recently down as much as 30+% in the fourth quarter, but Berkshire was a net seller of shares as one of the portfolio managers (not Buffett) was selling. His average cost basis is around $141 per share.
– Likes financials as “very good investments at sensible prices. They’re cheaper than other businesses that are also good businesses by some margin.” Says Moynihan at Bank of America (BAC) was underestimated and has done excellent. Says JPMorgan Chase (JPM) is a very well managed bank.
– Wanted to be buying stocks in Q4 as they were cheaper, but it sounds like Berkshire was keeping cash on hand for a potential acquisition that didn’t materialize. He said they haven’t been buying equities yet in 2019 as the market as ‘basically gone straight up.’
– Notes that portfolio managers Ted Weschler and Todd Combs since joining Berkshire: “Overall, they are a tiny bit behind the S&P, each, by almost the same margin.” The now manage around $13 billion each. Buffett says they’ve also done better than he has over that time period.
– On the trade war: The tariffs have had some impact on some of his businesses. “It pushes prices up, there’s no question about that.” It hasn’t had a big impact at 10% but 25% you’ll have to make changes (pricing, sourcing, etc).
– On KraftHeinz (KHC): Brands in general aren’t what they used to be, and in many cases consumer packaged goods companies are being threatened by a ton of new brands, increasingly strong private label, and more. “The ability to price has been changed, and that’s huge.” On his investments he noted: “We didn’t overpay for Heinz … but we overpaid for Kraft.” Says the co still has real debt to be reduced.
– Sold Oracle (ORCL) quickly after concluding he didn’t understand the business well enough. His past dalliance with IBM also entered his mind. “I don’t think I understand exactly where the cloud is going.”
– “You do not want to have a political view in investing.”
– If Bloomberg announced he were running for President, he would be for him. If Howard Schulz runs as an independent, he thinks he’d take votes away from Democrats, so it’d be a mistake for him to run. Generally, third party candidates are going to hurt one side.
Warren Buffett Interview Video
Embedded below is the video of the full interview
Warren Buffett Interview Full Transcript
You can also read a full transcript here.
For more from Berkshire, be sure to also read Warren Buffett’s annual letter 2018.