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Warren Buffett Watch

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  Tuesday, 1 Apr 2014 | 7:40 AM ET

Learning to give away money the Buffett way

Posted By: Alex Crippen

For the second consecutive year, Warren Buffett's sister, Doris, is offering a free online course on getting good value for the money you give away to charities.

Her Learning By Giving Foundation and Northwestern University are teaming up to present "Giving With Purpose: How to get the most out of your charitable giving" on EdX's MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) platform. EdX is a nonprofit initiative created by Harvard and MIT.

The class begins on Wednesday and lasts seven weeks. Registration is open to anyone over age 13. Students can expect to spend two to four hours a week if they participate in all the course activities.

»Read more
  Wednesday, 26 Mar 2014 | 1:09 PM ET

Andreessen vs. Buffett: bitcoin miracle or mirage?

Posted By: CNBC.com staff

Venture capitalist Marc Andreessen doesn't seem to think Warren Buffett is particularly qualified to opine on bitcoin.

The famed investor from Omaha recently called bitcoin a "mirage" on CNBC's Squawk Box, saying the the idea that it should have any intrinsic value is a joke.

Andreessen, co-founder of Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, took umbrage at this, and said Buffett does not know what he is talking about.

"The historical track record of old white men who don't understand technology crapping on new technology is, I think, 100 percent," Andreessen said at a conference in San Francisco on Tuesday.

»Read more
  Monday, 24 Mar 2014 | 5:31 PM ET

For sale: Warren Buffett's head, only $29.99

Posted By: CNBC.com staff
Warren Buffett Big Head by Fathead
Source: Fathead
Warren Buffett Big Head by Fathead

Coming soon to the bedroom walls of aspiring teenage investors everywhere: Warren Buffett's big, fat head. (So to speak).

Fathead.com, which sells oversized stick-on decals—usually of popular athletes—said on Monday it would launch a "Warren Buffett Big Head."

Read MoreNCAA contest not just chance: Buffett

The proceeds of the $29.99 decal, which measures 1'7" by 2', go two Detroit charities.


»Read more
  Tuesday, 18 Mar 2014 | 10:30 AM ET

March Madness: Is there a chance to win $1 billion?

Warren Buffett
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
Warren Buffett

So, about that billion dollars.

Warren Buffett looks at his offer to pay $1 billion to anyone who fills out a perfect NCAA tournament bracket as nothing more than a matter of having the numbers in his favor.

Mathematicians say he's right. That's still not stopping them from building a cottage industry by teaching bracket-fillers how to make the impossible seem possible—or a little less improbable.

Around a half-dozen college professors are offering special classes to teach people the ins and outs of the numbers that will, inevitably, work against them. And there's one website—takebuffettsbillion.com—that says it will send a unique, statistician-crunched bracket to anyone who signs up, with the promise that all those in on the gig will split the money if one of those brackets is the winner. (As of Monday, about 9,000 people had signed up.)

(Read more: 3 reasons 2008 crisis post-mortem shocked Buffett)

"I'd love to demystify all this," said DePaul math professor Jeff Bergen, whose expertise has been in demand this month. "The math involved is quite simple and can be done in a high school class. What blows people away is the magnitude of the numbers. You look at the number '9 quintillion' and it's hard to wrap your head around it."

There are a few more than 9.2 quintillion combinations for a 64-team bracket. A quintillion is 1 million times 1 trillion—a 1 with 18 zeros behind it. If every possibility were filled out on its own sheet of paper, the weight of the paper would be 184 trillion tons—more than 500 million times the weight of the Empire State Building.

To help whittle the odds, math professor Tim Chartier of Davidson College held a seminar. For $100 a head, he offered a class last week touted as 90 minutes where you could "learn how to craft an NCAA basketball tournament bracket from a master, and let mathematics boost your chances of creating the perfect bracket."

(Read more: College athletes or unpaid workers? A debate rages)

Over the past few years, Chartier's system has helped a handful of Davidson students finish in the top 2 or 3 percent in different contests,including one run by ESPN, which gets more than 1 million entries. His system weighs a number of variables, including records, strength of schedule and, most notably, how teams are currently playing.(That last factor is one the NCAA selection committee leaves out of its seeding considerations.)

"The key to it is not necessarily doing some amazing thing that nobody's ever done," Chartier says. "The key is weighting it but weighting it with an ability to identify when a team is strong."

»Read more
  Monday, 17 Mar 2014 | 8:02 AM ET

Your March Madness pool is probably illegal

Posted By: Mark Koba
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

An estimated 50 million people reportedly took part in March Madness office pools last year, and the number should be about the same this time around. And those people may be breaking the law.

Trying to pick the winner of college basketball's men's national championship tournament, while avoiding bracket-busting losses along the way, can be downright exhausting and time consuming.

In fact, companies are expected to lose at least $1.2 billion for every unproductive work hour during the first week of the tournament, according to global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

(Read more: Hate the long winter? So does the golf industry)

So is it legal?

"The answer lies in the legal meaning of 'bet,' " said Tony Campiti, a lawyer with Thompson & Knight in Dallas.

»Read more
  Friday, 14 Mar 2014 | 5:30 PM ET

This stock is making Warren Buffett richer

Posted By: Lawrence Lewitinn
This stock's making Warren Buffett richer
As Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway hits all-time highs, its largest holding, Wells Fargo, is too. Is there more to come?

Warren Buffett is considered by many to be the greatest investor of all time. And, he's getting even greater.

Shares of Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway are trading at all-time highs; Class A shares of the investment management company closed Tuesday at a record $187,101 while Class B shares closed at a more palatable $124.69.

What's driving Berkshire Hathaway to record highs? Part of it has to do with its largest holding, Wells Fargo, which is also trading near its all-time highs.

(See: Berkshire Hathaway portfolio tracker)

As of December 31, 2013, Berkshire Hathaway owned 463.5 million shares of Wells Fargo which makes up about 8.8% of the bank's stock. At $22.16 billion, Wells Fargo is one-fifth of Berkshire Hathaway's portfolio of publicly traded companies.

So far, Buffett has made a pretty good bet. In the last twelve months, the S&P 500 Financials sector index is up 24% but stock in Wells Fargo, the nation's largest mortgage servicer, is ahead with a gain of 32%.
CNBC contributor Gina Sanchez, founder of Chantico Global, believes Buffett's investment will continue to win.

"I definitely see further good times ahead," say Sanchez. "They have a huge mortgage business, but they're also increasing their credit card business [and] international banking…. They also have a low dividend payout ratio so dividends could drive this stock up."

Sanchez says Wells Fargo is the sort of investment Buffett loves. "They seek to be America's community bank," she says.

"Even after this run, I think there's a lot more to come."

(See: CNBC's Warren Buffett Watch)

Talking Numbers contributor Richard Ross, Global Technical Strategist for Auerbach Grayson, agrees with Sanchez and Buffett.

"It's a real good story," says Ross. "In fact, it's a story which has gotten increasingly better just over the past few days."

Ross says market skeptics were concerned about the benchmark S&P 500 index rallying while the financial sector wasn't participating. That changed as of late, he notes.

The stock has been trading in a upward-sloping trend channel which Ross believes will continue. "I think that channel goes higher," says Ross. "The stock goes along with it. You want to use any weakness within the context of that trading range to be a buyer of the stock on a pullback. For the time being, I like financials and, in particular, you have to like the chart of Wells Fargo. "

To see the full discussion on Wells Fargo with Sanchez on the fundamentals and Ross on the technicals, watch the video above.

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»Read more
  Friday, 14 Mar 2014 | 10:29 AM ET

Bitcoin? Here's what Warren Buffett is saying

Posted By: Alex Crippen
Buffett: Bitcoin a 'mirage'
Warren Buffett tells CNBC why he thinks bitcoins don't have any intrinsic value and investors should stay away.

Warren Buffett is no fan of bitcoin.

"Stay away from it. It's a mirage, basically," he said on CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Friday.

(Read more: Buffett: It would surprise me if stock prices drop 50%)

In response to a question about the cryptocurrency from Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert, Buffett said:

"It's a method of transmitting money. It's a very effective way of transmitting money and you can do it anonymously and all that. A check is a way of transmitting money, too. Are checks worth a whole lot of money just because they can transmit money? Are money orders? You can transmit money by money orders. People do it. I hope bitcoin becomes a better way of doing it, but you can replicate it a bunch of different ways and it will be. The idea that it has some huge intrinsic value is just a joke in my view."

»Read more
  Friday, 14 Mar 2014 | 9:31 AM ET

$1 billion Madness contest not just chance: Buffett

Picking the perfect bracket for $1 billion
Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway is backing the Quicken Loans' $1 billion bracket challenge with Yahoo Sports. Buffett provides insight on the competition.

"I should be institutionalized," Warren Buffett joked on CNBC Friday—talking about how he's feeling about Berkshire Hathaway's part in insuring a contest by Quicken Loans to offer a billion dollars for the perfect March Madness bracket.

Buffett said in a "Squawk Box" interview that the odds are much better than just a coin-flip on each game—which would yield about a 1 in 9 quintillion chance in winning.

(Read more: Buffett: I'd be'surprised' if stock prices drop 50% )

Appearing with Buffett, Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert said, "When I heard 'quintillion,' I was going to say, 'Warren ... do we need insurance here?" But of course the answer was yes, Gilbert added.

The odds of winning increase when you look at some of the historical results in the tournament, Buffett explained. "The No. 1 seed team has beaten the No. 16 team over 100 times in a row. The No. 2 seed almost always beats the No. 15 seed."

If four No. 1 teams make it to Final Four, "I'm going into the witness protection program," Buffett joked.

»Read more
  Friday, 14 Mar 2014 | 9:24 AM ET

Buffett: I'd be 'surprised' if stock prices drop 50%

Posted By: Alex Crippen
Warren Buffett says 2008 crisis worse than he realized
Discussing the economic impact of China's slowing economy, the state of housing and the U.S. economy, with Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway Chairman & CEO, and Dan Gilbert, Quicken Loans founder & Chairman.

Warren Buffett told CNBC on Friday he would be "surprised a lot" if stock prices around the world fell 50 percent from their current levels in the near future.

He predicted there will be another financial crisis "someday" in the years ahead that will shock financial markets, but he doesn't think it will happen anytime soon.

"Humans will behave in crazy ways, both on the upside and the downside in the next 50 years. It's very unlikely they do it in the next few years because after something like 2008, once they get out of the emergency room, they're a little more careful for awhile."

During an appearance on CNBC's "Squawk Box," Buffett told 58-year-old host Joe Kernen that he will live to see the Dow at 100,000. "I won't, but you will," the 83-year-old Berkshire Hathaway chairman said.

»Read more
  Wednesday, 12 Mar 2014 | 1:42 PM ET

Buffett's Berkshire gets its first TV station

Posted By: Alex Crippen

For the first time, Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway will directly own a television station.

Under terms of an agreement in principle announced Wednesday, Berkshire will get ABC-affiliate WPLG in Miami from Graham Holdings.

»Read more

About Buffett Watch

  • Warren Buffett is arguably America’s most-admired and most-followed investor. Buffett is the largest shareholder and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and one of the world’s most famous and most generous philanthropists. Legions of investors - from all walks of life - follow Buffett's homespun investment philosophy: invest in what you know, invest in value. Here on CNBC.com's Warren Buffett Watch, we’ll keep you up to date on what the “Oracle of Omaha” is doing by following Buffett's trades, words and deeds.

 

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