Buffett’s Chance for a Blockbuster Deal Faded When Fed Stepped InAdvisor Perspectives
Warren Buffett struck some of his famous deals — taking lucrative stakes in Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and General Electric Co. — by swooping in when others panicked during the last financial crisis. He’s treading more carefully this time around.
With a record $137 billion of cash piled up at his Berkshire Hathaway Inc., Buffett fielded questions over the weekend from shareholders who wanted to know why he hadn’t acted as companies clamored for liquidity amid the pandemic-related shutdowns. This crisis is different, Buffett said.
“We have not done anything because we don’t see anything that attractive to do,” Buffett said at his annual shareholder meeting, which was held by webcast. The deals in 2008 and 2009 weren’t done to make “a statement to the world,” he said. “They seemed intelligent things to do and markets were such that we didn’t really have much competition.”
The famous investor’s reputation allowed him to serve as a lender of last resort during the 2008 financial crisis, racking up deals that generated 10% annual dividends from household-name companies. But as panic about the virus and shutdowns assaulted equities in March and even began to freeze debt markets, the Federal Reserve beat him to the punch with an unprecedented set of emergency measures.
“There was a period right before the Fed acted, we were starting to get calls,” Buffett said at Saturday’s meeting. “They weren’t attractive calls, but we were getting calls. And the companies we were getting calls from, after the Fed acted, a number of them were able to get money in the public market frankly at terms we wouldn’t have given.”
Buffett’s cautious reaction to the latest crisis drew plenty of attention from investors. While Berkshire bought back $1.7 billion of its shares in the first quarter, it was a net seller of stocks through April as it shed stakes in four major U.S. airlines.
Read the full article here by Katherine Chiglinsky, Advisor Perspectives