Posted by Bob O'Brien
That which the market has trashed, the Oracle of Omaha has seen fit to treasure. Warren Buffett talked in an interview with Bloomberg television appearing on the cable network Thursday and Friday that ”odds favor” making an acquisition here in the U.S. this year. Even with a smaller pool of capital - Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA) is sitting on just over $25 billion of dry powder that could be used to fund acquisitions - with waning prices for desirable assets in the capital markets’ current distress, and fewer bidders around to drive up the prices, Buffett said he saw some ripe opportunities.
The domestic focus represented something of a turnaround for Buffett, as Bloomberg noted. A year ago, he set out on a fact-finding tour of Europe, hosting press conferences in major financial centers on the continent to talk about his desire to put some money to work globally.
Since then, Berkshire has made investments in preferred shares of U.S. companies including General Electric (GE) and Goldman Sachs (GS), and purchased the debt of companies, including Harley Davidson (HOG). While Buffett has driven good bargains for Berkshire holders in those transactions - often commanding steeper coupons for investments than the average investor would command - the kickers associated with both GE and Goldman have been underwater almost since he took his position.
Meanwhile, Buffett himself admitted that some of his existing businesses operating under the Berkshire umbrella, such as his jewelry retailing operations, have fared poorly in the current environment for consumer spending.
Berkshire shares are flat in Thursday’s premarket action, having been effectively cut in half versus the September highs. And - not for nothing - but remember a period when getting an interview with Warren Buffett amounted to an exclusive for a business journalist? Lately, it seemed like the guy would show up for the opening of a refrigerator door.Related Links
Berkshire Hathaway Annual Letter to Shareholders 2008 - Read the latest Berkshire Letter
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