Warren Buffett tells CNBC that when it comes to possible acquisitions, there aren't many "elephants" out there and not all of them want to be in the Berkshire Hathaway "zoo."
Appearing live from Omaha on CNBC's Squawk Box this morning, Buffett tells Becky Quick he doesn't have any "high probability" deals in the works now. While he's not necessarily scared away by higher stock prices, they do make it harder to find a deal now than two years ago.
Buffett says that of the 50 or so large companies that qualify as "elephants," he would not want to pay a 20 percent premium for most of them. He also points out it's easier to buy private companies.
He doesn't rule out an international acquisition, but says a purchase in the United States is more likely.
Buffett does reveal to Becky that Berkshire had an "iron in the fire" within the last few days, but lost out to another buyer. Was it an "elephant" on the scale of Burlington Northern Santa Fe? No, says Buffett, more like a "zebra."
AMERICAN ECONOMIC DOMINANCE DIMINISHING
In a discussion about the U.S. dollar, Buffett said that over time it will become "less important" as America's "dominance" of the world's economic system "diminishes."
"That doesn't mean we aren't going to be the leading player 25 years from now, we will be. But this overwhelming dominance that we, post World War Two, that we exhibited around the world, other countries have caught on to some degree... We should be glad they've caught on. Their people are going to live better because they've caught on. The people in China are not smarter than they were 50 years ago, they are not working harder, they've learned how to unleash their potential. It's a marvelous thing. But the United States is the example for the world."
While he concedes the U.S. economy will not be able to grow as quickly as China's, he notes that country is starting at a "far, far lower base."
UNEVEN U.S. ECONOMIC RECOVERY
Buffett says he thinks the U.S. economy is "coming back" and in the long-run "you can't stop" the United States, but most of Berkshire Hathaway's businesses are closer to "inching along" than "chugging along."