BECKY: Warren, we've got a couple of viewer questions, actually several of them, but I want to bring two up right now about BYD...
BECKY: ...since Carl mentioned this in his introduction to that question. Ray from Westminster, Maryland, writes in. He says, "Everyone seems to be aware of your investment at BYD— that's the Chinese electric car company. The stock's deteriorated of late and I can't seem to get a handle on the firm's profitability. Are they trying to compete on pricing only, or does their battery technology give them a clear advantage?"
BUFFETT: Well, the battery technology, if it works out like they hope it will, will give them a clear advantage. But battery technology is a evolving and tough game. And my partner Charlie particularly thinks that we've got the right fellow to make the breakthroughs in that— in that area. But it isn't like you get it tomorrow or the next day. And, you know, there are a lot of smart people working on battery technology. And, you know, I— in the— in the end, what I hope is the world gets a great answer on it very quickly...
BUFFETT: ...and if it says— if it says "made in Japan," "made in China," "made in the United States," the important thing for humanity is that— is that we get great battery technology. Now, like I say, my— Wang Chuanfu is an amazing guy. I'm impressed with him.
BECKY: The gentleman who heads BYD.
BUFFETT: Who runs BYD.
BUFFETT: And my friend, Charlie, who knows a lot more about batteries than I do, thinks that this guy is the second coming, more or less. So we'll see what happens on that. It's not easy. I mean, when you're dealing with batteries, you know, the weight, the cost, there's all— there are plenty of problems involved, but I will bet significant progress is made by BYD, but there may be more significant progress made by somebody else in the next few years.
BECKY: Tony in San Diego writes in and says that, "BYD has lost more than 60 percent from its peak in 2010. Do you consider buying more shares because of the current discount?"
BUFFETT: No. Well, who knows?
BUFFETT: With the one thing I— you know, you can talk about everything in my life virtually except for what we're buying or selling.
BECKY: OK. So that's a nonanswer.
BECKY: But, Joe, you've got another question, too.
JOE: All right, we'll always have— always have more. Warren, I'm trying to figure out whether you— we're— since we're on the subject of energy, it's fascinating how we're going to do this as we need more and more. And are you going to play it through utilities and not really think about what the input is for the— for the energy it's going to come from? You're not— you're not smart enough to figure that out, or...
BUFFETT: You've got it. You got it. I'm not— I mean, I'm not good at that. I got through physics OK in college, but that's just because I memorized the formulas. I really never knew why when you, you know, turned a little switch lights went on or the television went on. And I still don't know. So I do not have a mind that really has any special abilities at all, in terms of things physical. So I leave that to others, and I— you know, I just try and figure out whether people are likely to drink more Coca-Cola next year than last year.
BUFFETT: And I can under— I can understand certain— I mean, I can understand if you're the low-cost guy in auto insurance that— and people have to buy it, that you're going to do very well over time. But I am not good at insights about the future products. And I do not sit and try and figure out trends or any of that sort of thing. And I don't— and I don't pay any attention to people that talk about them because I don't— I don't know enough to evaluate them myself.
JOE: Yeah, but utilities are going to be there delivering whatever it is that generates the energy.
JOE: And so that's your— that's the way you're going to participate in that.
JOE: Because you have...
BUFFETT: Yeah, they're...
JOE: ...you haven't bought natural...
BUFFETT: They're fundamental.
JOE: You haven't really bought natural gas or oil in the ground or— typically, right?
BUFFETT: Not very often, no. And, you know, it— I don't know— the oil picture five years from now will be to, you know, may be much more dependent on politics than whether I can pick the best geologist in the United States. And, you know, I know we'll be using more natural gas, I know it's got all kinds of advantages and it's cheap on a BTU equivalent to oil and it's cleaner and all kinds of things. But in the end the price depends on supply and demand. And even though demand will go up some, I don't know whether supply's going to go up even faster than that. And so far it's been— the last few years I should say that, you know, natural gas has been pretty disappointing. It hasn't been disappointing in terms of finding it, hasn't been disappointing in terms of its performance, it's just been— there's been too much of it around. And I don't know— I'm not good at figuring out, you know, whether that will change a year from now, or five years from now, and I'm not in that game.