Buffett Watch

"Applauding" the Outcome, If Not the Motivation, as Warren Buffett Sheds PetroChina Stake


A group that's been urging Warren Buffett to divest Berkshire Hathaway's PetroChina holdings is "applauding" today, even if it might not like Buffett's stated reason for selling the entire stake.

Buffett told FBN yesterday that it was "100 percent a decision based on valuation."  That is, the stock price had gone up so much, so fast, that it had gotten ahead of the company's true value, greatly increasing the risk of a nasty pullback.

The Save Darfur Coalition is one of the groups that's been urging large investors to sell PetroChina's stock, arguing that "through its parent company CNPC, PetroChina is the worst of the 'highest offending' companies helping fund the genocide in Darfur" through its business ties with the Sudanese government.

In a news release today, spokesman Allyn Brooks-LaSure says:

"Mr. Buffett attributed his complete divestment of PetroChina holdings to reasons ‘based on price.'  The Save Darfur Coalition hopes that ‘based on price' is financial jargon for ‘ominous links to genocide and tragic crimes against humanity.' If so, we applaud Mr. Buffett's actions and encourage other U.S. firms with significant PetroChina holdings to divest their shares ‘based on price,' too."

Here at CNBC, we certainly can't be accused of not knowing our financial jargon, and I can safely say the Coalition's interpretation of Mr. Buffett's words is, well..., creative.

Indeed, Buffett said he probably sold too soon, since PetroChina has continued to hit new highs throughout the time he was shedding the stake.  Currently, in New York trading:

Don't count him out, though.  While Buffett may have sold too soon from a purely profit standpoint, it's better than selling too late.

And while human-rights activists may not agree with his motivation, they've got to like the end result.

Questions?  Comments?  Email me at buffettwatch@cnbc.com

Related Tags