May 4, 2020 - Economy

Warren Buffett sees nothing good to buy amid coronavirus pandemic

Warren Buffett.

Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images

Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett told shareholders Saturday that the company sold 16 times more in stocks than it purchased during April, including dumping $6 billion in airline stock — the company's entire equity position in U.S. airlines.

Why it matters: Long an advocate for buy-and-hold investing and being opportunistic during downturns, Buffett's actions are in stark contrast to the general mood of the market, which has seen stocks rally by around 30% since March 23.

Between the lines: Buffett remained positive on the overall growth and trajectory of the U.S. as a whole but cautioned that the timeframe for his bet on an American comeback was decades, not months or even years, N.Y. Times' Andrew Ross Sorkin writes.

  • “You can bet on America, but you kind of have to be careful about how you bet,” Buffett said Saturday.
  • “Simply because markets can do anything.”

What's happening: Buffett said he hadn’t made any purchases recently and couldn't even recall the paltry new pickups Berkshire had made, suggesting they were picks made by Berkshire investment managers Todd Combs and Ted Weschler.

The bottom line: As Sorkin notes, that's a far cry from his outlook during the 2008 financial crisis when he wrote an op-ed in the New York Times a month after Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy: “In the near term, unemployment will rise, business activity will falter and headlines will continue to be scary. So … I’ve been buying American stocks.”

  • “Our position will be to stay a Fort Knox,” he said Saturday.
  • “We have not done anything, because we don’t see anything that attractive to do.”
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