OMAHA, Neb. – Investor Warren Buffett has been adding to his company’s sizable stake in IBM during recent market turmoil, and he said Berkshire Hathaway’s $32 billion Precision Castparts deal hasn’t left him short on cash for other investments.
Buffett appeared on CNBC Tuesday before dining with the winners of this year’s auction of a private lunch. Chinese online game maker Dalian Zeus Entertainment Co. paid $2,345,678 to win this year’s auction.
Buffett has periodically added to Berkshire’s IBM investment ever since he first disclosed it in late 2011 even though the stock has disappointed. At the end of June, Berkshire held 79.57 million shares of IBM stock.
IBM shares have fallen 11 per cent over the past three months and 23 per cent over the past year.
Buffett said he bases his investments on a company’s prospects over the next five or 10 years, and he encouraged investors to take a long-term view.
“We’re buying because we like what we’re buying in relation to its long-term prospects,” he said.
Berkshire’s Precision Castparts acquisition will be the biggest of Buffett’s career, but he said it hasn’t put a crimp in other investments. Berkshire had $66.6 billion cash on hand at the end of the second quarter, and Buffett said the company has been spending about $500 million a week acquiring stock during recent market volatility.
Berkshire Hathaway recently disclosed a $4.5 billion investment in Phillips 66 even with energy companies being pummeled by low crude prices.
Buffett said he doesn’t look at it as an oil investment. Instead Buffett said he likes Phillips 66’s mix of refining and midstream chemical businesses.
“We’re not buying it as a refiner. We’re certainly not buying it as an integrated oil company,” Buffett said. “We’re buying it because we like the company.”
In late 2013, Berkshire agreed to trade about $1.4 billion of its Phillips 66 stock for one of the refiner’s businesses that makes additives to help crude oil flow through pipelines. Buffett said that trade wasn’t a sign that he disliked the company.
Buffett said the economy continues to grow at a slow, steady pace — just as it has since 2009, so he expects the Federal Reserve will eventually start raising interest rates. But he cautioned that the Fed shouldn’t be aggressive because significantly higher rates would likely hurt U.S. exports.
Berkshire Hathaway Inc. owns more than 80 subsidiaries, including railroad, clothing, furniture and jewelry firms. Its insurance and utility businesses typically account for more than half of the company’s net income. The company also has major investments in such companies as American Express, IBM and Wells Fargo & Co.
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Berkshire Hathaway Inc.: www.berkshirehathaway.com