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Investing Warren Buffett Watch

  Wednesday, 11 May 2011 | 9:46 AM ET

How to Survive and Thrive From Information Overload

Posted By Andy Boynton, Bill Fischer, and William Bole |Authors, The Idea Hunter

Guest Author Blog: Know Your Gig by Andy Boynton and Bill Fischer, with William Bole authors of, THE IDEA HUNTER: How to Find the Best Ideas and Make them Happen

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  Friday, 6 May 2011 | 7:00 PM ET

Buffett's Berkshire Reluctantly Writes Down $506 Million in Stock 'Losses'

Posted ByAlex Crippen
Warren Buffett
Getty Images
Warren Buffett

The basic headlines from tonight's quarterly earnings report by Berkshire Hathaway weren't a surprise. Warren Buffett previewed the numbers at last weekend's annual meeting.

There is, however, an interesting revelation we didn't know.

After discussions with the SEC on the subject, Berkshire Hathaway is recording $506 million in "other-than-temporary impairment losses" on two stock holdings: $169 million for Kraft Foods and $337 million for a portion of its Wells Fargo stake .

That's not because Berkshire sold the shares at a loss. It's due to accounting rules that require write-downs for unrealized losses when they've been around for awhile. The rules, however, do not include a clear, unambiguous definition of "temporary."

In its 10-Q report , Berkshire acknowledges that most of the unrealized losses were more than two years old.

Berkshire, however, notes it has the "ability and intent" to keep those stock positions until they become profitable, or longer. And the company "strongly believes" that will indeed happen eventually. "The recognition of such losses ... does not necessarily indicate that sales are imminent or planned and sales ultimately may not occur for numerous years or even decades."

The 10-Q also notes that Berkshire is writing down a third of a billion dollars in unrealized losses for 104 million shares of Wells Fargo, even though it holds another 255 million shares with an unrealized gain of $3.7 billion. That "gain" is not included in Berkshire's quarterly report.

"This odd result occurs because existing accounting rules require that impairments be evaluated as to whether or not they are other than temporary on an individual purchase lot basis since that is how we determine realized investment gains/losses on sales of investments."

Changes in market value for stocks and other holdings are included in Berkshire's shareholders' equity, a metric Buffett values much more than net earnings.

As of March 31, shareholders' equity totaled $160 billion , an increase of 8.8 percent from $147 billion three months earlier.

Current Berkshire stock prices:

Class B:

Class A:

For more Buffett Watch updates follow alexcrippen on Twitter .

Email comments to buffettwatch@cnbc.com

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  Monday, 2 May 2011 | 2:08 PM ET

Was the Financial Crisis Caused by Ignorance?

Posted ByJohn Carney
capitol_building_wallstreet_200.jpg

Famed economist Hernando de Soto argues in the most recent issue of Business Week that the financial crisis was brought about by a reversal of a long trend to record and classify economic knowledge.

In reaction to earlier economic crises, reformers assembled what de Soto describes as "the first massive 'public memory systems.'"

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  Monday, 2 May 2011 | 1:17 PM ET

CNBC Transcript: Warren Buffett on Osama Bin Laden, the U.S. Economy, and the Sokol Scandal

Posted ByAlex Crippen
Shareholders Meeting 2011: CNBC Transcript and Video
Shareholders Meeting 2011: CNBC Transcript and Video

This is a transcript of Warren Buffett's live interview, his first since this weekend's Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting, on CNBC's Squawk Box on Monday, May 2, 2011. He discussed his reaction to the death of Osama Bin Laden, the state of the U.S. economy, and the continued fallout from the David Sokol scandal.

BECKY QUICK: Right now we'd actually like to get some more reaction to last night's developments. We're in Omaha, where Berkshire Hathaway held its annual meeting this weekend. Joining us right now is Warren Buffett himself. Also on the phone, calling in, is Jack Welch. Both these gentlemen appeared on "60 Minutes" on September 16th, 2001. That was the day before the United States markets reopened following those 9/11 attacks. At that time they were talking about the economic and investing impact of those infamous acts of terror. And, gentlemen, we want to thank both of you for joining us here this morning to talk about what's happened.

WARREN BUFFETT: Thank you.

JACK WELCH (Author, "Winning" and "Straight From the Gut"): Thank you.

BECKY: Morning, Jack. We thank you, Jack. We often come to you two when we need a little bit of historic perspective, when we're trying to put events in some sort of perspective. And, Warren, when you heard the news about Osama bin Laden last night, what did you think?

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  Monday, 2 May 2011 | 8:40 AM ET

What's On: Warren Buffett, CEOs Galore and 'Metal Mania Monday'

Posted By Jason Gewirtz|Senior Producer

Start your week of trading off on the right foot by checking out "Squawk on the Street," which airs Monday at 9 a.m.

We'll be covering Berkshire Hathaway's annual investors' meeting, which took place over the weekend. CNBC's Becky Quick will interview Berkshire CEO Warren Buffett live from Omaha. The stock sage will share his thoughts on the stock price, the Sokol scandal and a lot more.

Meanwhile, Signature Bank CEO Joseph Depaolo and LyondellBasell CEO James Gallogly are also scheduled to appear on Monday's program. Both executives have great stories to tell. Wait until you hear about Lyondell's amazing turnaround from bankruptcy to Wall Street high flyer.

Also on the big show, "Metal Mania Monday." We're looking to see what has the best shot of making you the most money in the months ahead: copper , gold or silver .

Finally, HBO's big move, on the move.

______________________

Squawk on the Street comes to you live from the New York Stock Exchange each weekday morning at 9 a.m. ET.

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  Monday, 2 May 2011 | 8:13 AM ET

Warren Buffett to CNBC: "Felt Good" When He Heard of Osama Bin Laden's Death

Posted ByAlex Crippen
110502_BuffettLiveInterview.jpg

Warren Buffett tells CNBC that he "felt good" when he first heard the United States had killed Osama Bin Laden .

"It was joy."

He says his "thoughts went back to 9/11" and he remembered his outrage watching pictures of the attacks on CNBC.

In a live interview this morning on CNBC's Squawk Box following the Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting, Buffett says he's always had faith in the country to accomplish anything.

Still, he warns, the threat of terrorism has not been eliminated with Bin Laden's death.

On the U.S. economy, Buffett says the pace of the recovery has been slow but "steady," more steady than the nation's mood.

He expects that when residential construction comes back, the lagging labor market will reflect the improved economy.

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  Sunday, 1 May 2011 | 4:53 PM ET

Five Things to Watch: Squawking with Warren and Metals Mania

Posted By CNBC.com|Edited by Matthew Levine and Nikhil Deogun

Record-breaking gold tries to keep pace with silver in a busy week that begins with Buffett's burden and drumrolls towards Jobs Friday. Here's what we're watching...

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  Saturday, 30 Apr 2011 | 6:28 PM ET

Warren Buffett to CNBC: I Should Have Been Tougher in Sokol News Release

Posted ByAlex Crippen
Berkshire Shareholders Meeting 2011: The Interview
Berkshire Shareholders Meeting 2011: The Interview

Warren Buffett tells CNBC that he should have been more critical of David Sokol in the news release he wrote a month ago announcing the Berkshire executive's surprise resignation .

In a taped interview with our Becky Quick after facing hours of questioning from Berkshire Hathaway shareholders today in Omaha, Buffett says, "I wouldn't have written the press release that way."

The release started out with several paragraphs praising Sokol's "extraordinary" contributions to Berkshire, prompting critics to question why he wasn't more "ruthless" with someone who would be hurting the company's reputation.

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  Saturday, 30 Apr 2011 | 5:24 PM ET

Warren Buffett: We're Looking at Two Deals But Won't Stretch for a 'Really Big Elephant'

Posted ByAlex Crippen
Buffett Shareholders Meeting 2011: No Elephants Now
Buffett Shareholders Meeting 2011: No Elephants Now

Warren Buffett tells shareholders that Berkshire Hathaway is currently looking at two potential acquisitions that would be roughly as large as its $9 billion deal , composed entirely of cash, for Lubrizol earlier this month.

But underlining his extreme aversion to financing purchases with stock or selling an existing business to raise cash, Buffett says, "We can't do a really big elephant now and we won't stretch."

That's a reference to his February letter to shareholders in which he talked about the need for more "major" acquisitions. "Our elephant gun has been reloaded, and my trigger finger is itchy."

On the same theme, Buffett says he would have liked Johnson & Johnson's acquisition of Synthes "a whole lot more" if it had been all cash.

J&J's $21.6 billion purchase price of the Swiss medical devices maker consisted of two-thirds stock and one-third cash.

Our Berkshire Hathaway Portfolio Tracker shows that Buffett's company reported owning 42.6 million J&J shares at the end of December. At Friday's closing price of $65.72, that stake would be worth $2.8 billion. Current price:

Just over a year ago, Buffett told CNBC he would have voted against Kraft's use of stock to purchase Cadbury. He's also criticized Nestle's sale of its pizza business.

In late 2009, Berkshire did use some stock to help pay for its $26 billion acquisition of Burlington Northern Santa Fe. In an interview on CNBC , Buffett said, "I don't like to use stock, but on this one, because of the size and because they wanted a tax-free option for shareholders, we're doing it 40 percent stock and 60 percent cash."

Current Berkshire stock prices:

Class B:

Class A:

For more Buffett Watch updates follow alexcrippen on Twitter .

Email comments to buffettwatch@cnbc.com

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  Saturday, 30 Apr 2011 | 3:45 PM ET

Warren Buffett: Failure to Raise Debt Limit Would Be 'Most Asinine Act' Ever By Congress

Posted ByAlex Crippen
Shareholders Meeting 2011: Debt Limit
Shareholders Meeting 2011: Debt Limit

Warren Buffett says if Congress fails to raise the U.S. debt limit, it would be its "most asinine act" ever.

But he told shareholders today there's "no chance" lawmakers will fail to do so, despite "waste of time" debates on Capitol Hill.

While Buffett doesn't want the nation to keep increasing its debt relative to GDP, he says there's shouldn't be a legislated debt limit to begin with, because circumstances change.

Buffett says the U.S. will not "have a debt crisis of any kind as long as we keep issuing our notes in our own currency." Inflation resulting from a "printing press" approach, however, is a serious threat.

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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.