Looking back at his performance during the global financial crisis of the past two years, Warren Buffett tells the Wall Street Journal, "We didn't do all the smartest things. We didn't do anything really dumb."
Buffett admits that he could have done better if he waited until the stock market bottomed in March of this year, but he's happy with the Goldman Sachs and General Electric deals he agreed to in September and October of 2008.
"I made plenty of mistakes. I didn't maximize the opportunities offered by the chaos. But in the end, it worked out OK."
That's because he avoided making a number of deals offered to him that could have proven disasterous. Plus, rejecting all those offers left him with the ammunition to make his biggest deal ever, last month's announced $26 billion acquisition of railroad operator Burlington Northern Santa Fe .
In a page one article headlined In Year of Living Dangerously, Buffett Looked 'Into the Abyss'(WSJ.com subscription required), reporter Scott Patterson lays out an extensive account of Buffett's "epic deal negotiations, including anxious phone calls he fielded from wounded companies such as Freddie Mac , Wachovia, and Morgan Stanley ."
Buffett also turned down potential deals with Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, and AIG .
As Janney Montgomery Scott analyst Paul Howard tells Patterson, "I don't think Buffett gets enough credit for all the pitches he doesn't swing at. And he gets a lot of pitches."