Susie Gharib: What about Berkshire Hathaway stock? Were you surprised that it took such a hit last year, given that Berkshire shareholders are such buy and hold investors?
Warren Buffet: Well most of them are. But in the end our price is figured relative to everything else so the whole stock market goes down 50 percent we ought to go down a lot because you can buy other things cheaper. I’ve had three times in my lifetime since I took over Berkshire when Berkshire stock’s gone down 50 percent. In 1974 it went from $90 to $40. Did I feel badly? No, I loved it! I bought more stock. So I don’t judge how Berkshire is doing by its market price, I judge it by how our businesses are doing.
SG: Is there a price at which you would buy back shares of Berkshire? $85,000? $80,000?
WB: I wouldn’t name a number. If I ever name a number I’ll name it publicly. I mean if we ever get to the point where we’re contemplating doing it, I would make a public announcement.
SG: But would you ever be interested in buying back shares?
WB: I think if your stock is undervalued, significantly undervalued, management should look at that as an alternative to every other activity. That used to be the way people bought back stocks, but in recent years, companies have bought back stocks at high prices. They’ve done it because they like supporting the stock…
SG: What are your feelings with Berkshire. The stock is down a lot. It was up to $147,000 last year. Would you ever be opposed to buying back stock?
WB: I’m not opposed to buying back stock.
SG: Everyone wants to know your plans. What you’re going to do with all of Berkshire Hathaway’s cash, some $30 billion? Is this now the right time to do a big acquisition?
WB: Well, we’ve spent a lot of money in the last four months. We spent $5 billion on Goldman Sachs, $3 billion on G.E., $6.6 billion on Wrigley, we’ve got $3 billion committed on Dow. We’ve spent a lot of money. We’ve got money left, but I love spending money. Cash makes me very unhappy. I like to always have enough and never way more than enough, but I always want to have enough. So we would never go below $10 billion of cash at Berkshire. We’re in the insurance business — we got a lot of things. We’re never going to depend on the kindness of strangers. But anything excess in that, I love the idea of buying things and the cheaper they get, the better I like it.
SG: You’ve been talking about doing a big acquisition for a while now, what are you waiting for?
WB: Well, we’ve spent $20 billion… that might not be.
SG: I mean in terms of a company…
WB: Well, we’ll wait for the right deal. We had a deal to buy Constellation for roughly $5 billion and then events with the French coming in meant we didn’t do it. But I was delighted to commit to that $5 billion for Constellation Energy. And it could happen tomorrow. That one happened on a Tuesday afternoon, I mean it happened like that. Constellation was in big trouble and we flew back that day, talked to the people at MidAmerican that Tuesday and made them an offer that night.