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Here are some takeaways from Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A) chairman Warren Buffett’s interview on Bloomberg Television after the company’s shareholders’ meeting in Omaha on May 5.
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“Berkshire will continue to grow – someday, $34 billion will not be the limit,” said Buffett, referring to the acquisition of railroad Burlington Northern Santa Fe, and relevant in the context of the firm’s massive $37.8 billion cash chest. “I wish I could make a big acquisition, because I love acquisitions when we’ve got the money,” Buffett said. “If we can make a good deal tomorrow, whether it’s small or big, we’ll make it.” Shareholders had been informed that price considerations weighed against the conclusion of a recent $22 billion deal.
Clarifying that his prostate cancer is a “minor event” and that he felt “terrific,” Buffett revealed that risk management would be a key responsibility of the new CEO, more on a worst-case scenario basis, rather than the firm’s exposure to derivatives. The firm has not disclosed the name of the successor, though the board has apparently made its choice, along with two backups. According to Buffett, “We’re not going to have an arts major in charge of Berkshire.”
He rejected the idea of making donations to super political action committees, made possible by a 2010 ruling by the Supreme Court. “I don’t want to see democracy go in that direction,” Buffett said.
On Berkshire’s underperformance on the S&P 500, Buffett revealed that he stood ready to buy back his shares “on a big scale” in the event the price fell below 110 percent of book value. Berkshire’s Class A shares quoted $121,950 each on May 4, which is about 1.14 times the book value.
Buffett brushed aside Wal-Mart’s (NYSE:WMT) bribery concerns, saying “I don’t think the earning power of Wal-Mart five years from now will be materially affected by the outcome of this situation,” he said. “It may result in a significant fine, but I don’t think it changes the fundamental dynamic.”
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