Markets have become a “gambling parlor,” Warren Buffett said this past weekend at Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholder meeting, reports The Wall Street Journal. That environment has allowed Buffett to go on a recent buying spree totaling $41 billion, even as the billionaire investor lamented that there wasn’t anything worth buying back in February.
Though Buffett holds much disdain for speculative bets, and derided the risky behavior that’s rampant among investors these days, he pointed out that the current volatility has given Berkshire the opportunity to seek out undervalued companies to invest in. Berkshire ended 2021 with a major stockpile of cash, and Buffett was looking to spend it. Acquiring the insurer Alleghany Corp and building up Berkshire’s stakes in Occidental Petroleum and Chevron were three of the biggest deals he made. Both Buffett and his partner Charlie Munger said the oil industry is still useful, and the U.S. should be producing more of its own oil, the article reveals.
Last weekend’s shareholder meeting was the first to be held in-person in 2 years, and shareholders lined up for hours to snag good seats for it. Votes were held on shareholder proposals, such as measures that would have made Berkshire’s board chairman independent, and more transparent about its climate risk across its holdings—both of which shareholders struck down, according to the article.
Buffett also announced at the meeting that Berkshire had upped its stake to 9.5% in Activision Blizzard Inc., betting on future profits if the proposal from Microsoft to buy the videogame maker goes through. But he told shareholders that what Berkshire does isn’t reliant on trying to predict what the market will do. Rather, he said, the company’s focus is to do whatever it can to keep generating returns for its investors. And with 20% compounded annualized gains between 1965-2020—compared with the S&P 500’s 10%—that’s a promise he’s kept.