Berkshire Hathaway 1994 Annual Meeting Audience Question # 59

Don’t trust reports and speculations of what Berkshire is buying and selling

Warren Buffett:

Zone 2?

Audience Member:

Mr. Buffett, I’m from West Point. And my name is Rogers.

A couple of months ago, there were stories in The World-Herald that Berkshire Hathaway had taken a large position in Philip Morris, and UST. But in your annual report, I don’t see anything about that. Can you comment?

Warren Buffett:

Yeah, I would say, in the last two years maybe… I’m just approximating… I’ve probably seen reports in either The Wall Street Journal, or USA Today… maybe picked up by The Associated Press, or in The Herald, but in papers of some significance… I’ve probably seen stories that we were buying maybe any one of 10 companies in aggregate over that period of time. I would say a significant majority were erroneous.

We don’t correct the erroneous ones, because if we don’t correct the erroneous ones… if we correct the erroneous ones, and don’t say anything about the correct ones, in effect we’re identifying the correct ones, too.

So we will never comment on those stories, no matter how ridiculous they are.

And it’s interesting because, you know, they keep getting printed. And frankly, from our standpoint, the fact that most of them are inaccurate is probably useful to us. We don’t do anything to encourage it, but it… the fact that people are reading that we are buying A, B, C, or X, Y, Z when we aren’t… you know, that’s… I don’t think people should be buying stocks because they’re reading in the paper that we’re buying something. But if they do, they may get cured of it at some point.

Maybe the newspapers will even get cured of writing the stories when they don’t know, you know, what the facts are.

But it’s something we live with, and we’ll probably continue to live with.

And I would say that based on history, if you read something about us buying or selling something, other than through reports we’ve filed with the SEC or regulatory bodies, the chances are well over 50 percent… that I can tell you, based on history, is correct… well over 50 percent that it’s wrong.

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