Business News

Quarterly company forecasts will happen with or without Buffett and Dimon, says former Honeywell CEO

Key Points
  • Warren Buffett and Jamie Dimon are urging CEOs to end the practice of short-term company forecasts.
  • But former Honeywell CEO Larry Bossidy has "reservations" about ending the practice.
  • "Short-term gives you some focus; long-term gives you future," he says.
Larry Bossidy: Tariff proposal won't stick on everyone

There may be room in the business world for both short and long-term forecasts, Larry Bossidy, former chairman and CEO of Honeywell International, told CNBC.

He was responding to comments by Warren Buffett and Jamie Dimon, who in a joint interview with CNBC, urged CEOs to end quarterly profit forecasts.

"Short-term gives you some focus; long-term gives you future," Bossidy said Thursday in a "Squawk Box" interview. "And you should have incentives that promote that."

Buffett and Dimon said short-term forecasts run counter the long-term interests of a company.

"I've never seen a company whose performance has been improved by having some forecast out there by the CEO that we're going to earn 'X,'" Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, told CNBC's Becky Quick.

"It's also teaching the people that live under [the CEO] that quarterly performance is the end game," Buffett added.

Dimon, chairman and CEO of J.P. Morgan Chase, also pointed out some of the "ills and problems" of short-term forecasts.

"It can often put a company in a position where management, from the CEO down, feel obligated [to deliver certain results] or may do things that otherwise have done," Dimon said.

The two also voiced their concerns in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal on Thursday, saying the practice is bad for the economy. Dimon said the Business Roundtable, a group of CEOs of which Dimon is the chairman, supports companies that do not give short-term forecasts.

Wall Street analysts use a company's sales and profit forecasts for research and to help investors pick stocks. The numbers can often move the market if they're wrong or reduce volatility if accurate. Berkshire Hathaway does not give guidance.

Buffett told CNBC that "it's a very, very bad practice. And once it gets going it feeds on itself."

The businessman said he's met some good CEOs — some he wouldn't even mind if they were married to his daughter — but said once the predictions are made egos often get involved.

"When they find they can't make the numbers, sometimes they make up the numbers," Buffett said.

Michael Thompson, an analyst at S&P Global Ratings, pointed out that the market is forward-looking.

"How do you value the companies?" Thompson asked during a "Squawk Box" interview on Thursday.

"Less information begets less liquidity begets bigger gaps [and] more volatility," Thompson said. "The guidance is what people are trading on."

Bossidy said Buffett and Dimon's practices are "not totally unrealistic," but he still has reservations.

"I do think these two business luminaries have a point," he said. "But there's going to be forecasts whether they make them or not."