Coal is Done, Says Warren Buffett

by Linda Olson May 8, 2017, 15:53

Warren Buffett , who's avoided technology businesses for most of his lauded investing career, pointed out at his annual meeting Saturday that the five companies worth more than his largely industrial conglomerate, Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK.A), take basically zero capital to run.

'That is a problem this society is having trouble with and is going to have more trouble " added Buffett, who's previously funded Republican candidates but threw his support behind Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton a year ago.

Last year, Buffett said CNBC - cyber, nuclear, biological and chemical attacks - posed a major threat to the economic well-being of Berkshire shareholders.

Buffett was joined by his longtime business partner, Charles Munger, who said both political parties - Republicans and Democrats - were facing great difficulty in thinking rationally about the issue at hand because they "hate each other so much".

Buffett has said Berkshire could have a new chief executive within 24 hours if he died or could not continue, and that nothing had changed just because he praised fewer managers than usual in his February shareholder letter.

Buffett said his federal income taxes would have gone down 17 percent a year ago if the GOP bill was in effect.

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Brooks Running CEO Jim Weber said he's always careful about how much of Buffett's time he takes up when he talks to him, so those conversations tend to focus just on Brooks' running-shoe business. Buffett said Wells Fargo & Co. mishandled its response to a fake-account scandal.

Buffett said: "We've had a lot of (tax cuts) in our lifetimes - it's certain that some of a lower corporate rate would be competed away, and it's sure that some of it would inure to the benefit of shareholders".

Billionaire American investor Warren Buffett has denounced the Donald Trump administration's healthcare overhaul as a huge tax cut for wealthy individuals like himself. It is known as the "Woodstock of capitalism", according to the New York Times.

"In retrospect, I think we were smart enough to figure out Google early, and we didn't", Munger said. "The main problem was they didn't act when they learned about it".

A cut to 15 percent could boost book value by $36 billion, he said. Buffett's company said after markets closed Friday that first-quarter operating profit slipped 4.8 percent to $3.56 billion, as insurance units faced claims from a cyclone in Australia.

He said one of the most important qualities his successor will need is a talent for wisely investing Berkshire's cash. "So they have gained a 5- or 6-point advantage", he said.


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