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CNBC Transcript: Billionaire Investor Warren Buffett Speaks with CNBC's Becky Quick


Following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC interview with billionaire investor Warren Buffett on CNBC. Following is a link to the interview on

All references must be sourced to CNBC.

BECKY QUICK: Hi Mr. Buffett how are you?

WARREN BUFFETT: Becky Quick. What brings you to Omaha?

QUICK: I'm one of thousands arriving in Omaha. I've already seen a bunch of people flooding into town. How are you today?

BUFFETT: I couldn't be better. Couldn't be better. We're going to have a record crowd, and we're going to have a lot of fun.

QUICK: How many do you think? I read 38,000.

BUFFETT: That's a good guess. That's a good guess. We won't know for sure. We won't know afterwards for sure. But that's a good guess.

QUICK: How do you measure it?

BUFFETT: Well, we measure it - people come and go. It's an all day affair. We certainly see how many are seated at a time like 8:30 or 9:30. But they are coming and going and we have to make a guess.

QUICK: What do you have for lunch there? It smells pretty good.

BUFFETT: Well I have a Quarter Pounder and some fries. It's a late lunch.

QUICK: Eating healthy I see.

BUFFETT: Healthier than usual.

QUICK: A couple of questions for you. The GDP numbers that came out for the first quarter yesterday were much weaker than expected. 0.1% Were you surprised by that?

BUFFETT: Not very surprised. I mean we saw in January and February, things fairly slow. Which certainly in some cases it was attributable to weather, in our own case. Others may not have been. But it's gotten stronger since then. So if you have two months out of the three where things really seem to be pretty stagnant, the three months aren't going to be that good.

QUICK: When you say it's gotten better since then, do you think we're on pace to have a 3% GDP for the year?

BUFFETT: I'm really no good at that, but it certainly – it seems more like it was going into the end of the year.

QUICK: We've also had a few jobs numbers that we've seen this week. ADP came out on Wednesday and it was a little better than expected, but the jobless claims that came out on Thursday were a little worse. Any guesses as to what the jobs number may be tomorrow?

BUFFETT: No, no. That's not my game.

QUICK: What about just in terms of what you see in terms of jobs and hiring at your own companies?

BUFFETT: Well, most of our companies are hiring, not all of them. And actually a few companies have cut back. But, net we would be hiring.

QUICK: You would be. So you are?

BUFFETT: Or we are, I should say. Yeah.

QUICK: Net hiring. At a decent pace, you think? Or something that is still --

BUFFETT: Well, it just depends on the industry. It's more or less the same pace that I've been seeing since the fall of 2009.

QUICK: One of the questions that we get a lot on the show is whether or not companies are actually spending, and putting capex back into things. I know with Burlington Northern you spent an awful lot.

BUFFETT: We'll spend a record again this year. We spent a record last year, we spent a record the year before. The first quarter I think we spent about 2.8 billion on plant equipment. And that might have been against like 2.2 billion the year before. But we're going to spend a lot of money. There's a lot of opportunity to spend.

QUICK: There was a story in the last week or so in The Wall Street Journal about mortgage applications really plummeting – I think at a four year low. Part of that has to be because of refinancing. But you know an awful lot about the housing business. What do you see?

BUFFETT: Housing is not that strong yet. I'm surprised at that. But, it's better than it was a couple of years ago. The pickup in housing has been slower than I would have anticipated. And I would say that's true right to this date. And it's true in the secondary market for houses. The prices have recovered some and all of that. But if you look at transactions and pending transactions in March, it's not booming.

QUICK: Warren, one of the huge things you've been in the news for is your decision on Coke. You abstained from the vote on that. There was a story in today's Wall Street Journal that suggested that Coca Cola had heard that and that management may not be doling out those shares and those options as quickly as originally planned. Do you know anything about that?

BUFFETT: Well I wouldn't be surprised that they – they're going to look at it certainly. With us abstaining, with the fair amount of no votes. And what they authorized at this meeting the other day, they don't have to do. They can spread it over a longer period of time. And we'll see what they do. But they've listened to shareholders before and I think maybe they'll listen again.

QUICK: Have you talked to Muhtar Kent about it, since the vote?

BUFFETT: Not since the vote. I haven't talked to anybody from Coke since the vote.

QUICK: None of the directors?

BUFFETT: No, not even my son!

QUICK: Well Warren we are excited to be here. And we really look forward to seeing you.

BUFFETT: Well I'm glad you could come and have a good time.

QUICK: Thanks. Enjoy your lunch.

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