The weekend known as “Woodstock for Capitalists” is unique in corporate America, a celebration of the billionaire’s image and success at a conglomerate whose businesses range from Geico insurance to the BNSF railroad to See’s candies to Ginsu knives.
Below are a few of the comments from Buffett, the “Oracle of Omaha,” on topics ranging from Wells Fargo to celebrating a pioneer of index funds.
On future acquisitions
“Charlie and I really do not discuss sectors much we’re really opportunistic. We’re looking at all kinds of businesses all of the time. We’re hoping, we get a call and we know in the first five minutes whether [a deal] has a reasonable chance of happening.”
“Over time, coal is essentially certain to decline as a percentage of the revenue of the [BNSF] railroad. We are looking for other sources of growth [besides] coal.”
On eating junk food
“I don’t mind having 500-600 calories for dessert. I’ll let someone else have the broccoli.”
On running a hands-off conglomerate
“I think our hands-off style actually can add significant value to many companies. We free up at least 20 percent of the time for a chief executive [compared to running] a public company. I think we bring something to the party.”
On holdings in IBM and Apple
“When I bought IBM six years ago, I thought it would do better in the six years than it has. Apple is much more of a consumer products business. In terms of analysing moats around it, consumer behaviour they are two different types of decisions. I was wrong on the first one, and we’ll find out whether I was right on the second. We missed [Amazon.com] entirely. We’ve never owned a share.”
“It’s a fiercely competitive industry. The question is if it’s a suicidally competitive industry. It has been operating at 80 percent or better of capacity for some time it’s fair to say they will operate at higher degrees of capacity over the next 5 or 10 years than at historical rates. They actually at present are earning quite high returns on invested capital, I think higher than FedEx or UPS."