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The Latest: Buffett says economy improving at slower rate

February 25, 2019

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The Latest on investor Warren Buffett’s comments on a variety of topics (all times local):

6:35 a.m.

Billionaire Warren Buffett says the economy continues growing although the rate of improvement has slowed.

Buffett told CNBC that the reports he gets from Berkshire Hathaway’s assorted businesses haven’t suggested the economy flattening out.

But Buffett says the slow pace of home construction remains puzzling because he expected more renters would be buying their first homes by now — a decade after the recession.

Buffett says inflation is clearly increasing, but he hasn’t seen anything alarming at this stage.


6:20 a.m.

Investor Warren Buffett says part of why his Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate didn’t buy many stocks in the fourth quarter is that he was considering a major acquisition that fell through.

Buffett said on CNBC Monday that he was considering a deal late last year that didn’t happen.

Some investors questioned why Berkshire didn’t buy more stocks given that it is holding roughly $130 billion in cash and other short-term investments.

Buffett released his annual letter to Berkshire shareholders on Saturday.


6:15 a.m.

Investor Warren Buffett says Berkshire Hathaway’s businesses have already seen some impact from the U.S. trade dispute with China.

Buffett said during an interview on CNBC Monday that the tariffs have the effect of pushing up prices, but so far some of the 10 percent tariffs imposed on Chinese goods have been absorbed by businesses.

Buffett says if tariffs are increased to 25 percent, that would likely have a significant impact on prices and more businesses may decide to change suppliers.

Buffett says the best thing would be for the United States and China to reach a sensible agreement that both countries can live with.

China’s stock market surged Monday after President Donald Trump postponed a tariff hike on Chinese imports.


6 a.m.

Billionaire Warren Buffett says his Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate overpaid when it teamed up with Brazilian investors 3G Capital to buy Kraft Foods.

During a Monday interview on CNBC, Buffett said that Kraft Heinz was correct to write down the value of its assets by $15.4 billion last week.

Kraft Heinz is still a wonderful business, he said, but the company did overpay when it bought Kraft. Buffett’s Berkshire owns about 26 percent of Kraft Heinz stock.

Buffett says store brands, such as Costco’s Kirkland brand, have become much more powerful than they used to be. That has made it harder for branded food companies to negotiate with retailers.


5:30 a.m.

Warren Buffett says two potential successors earned roughly $18 million each last year managing Berkshire Hathaway’s dozens of operating companies.

Buffett appeared on CNBC Monday after releasing his annual letter to shareholders over the weekend.

Buffett says Greg Abel and Ajit Jain have both done a great job since they joined Berkshire’s board in early 2018. Jain oversees the conglomerate’s insurance businesses while Abel oversees non-insurance business operations.

He says one of the two longtime Berkshire executives will likely become CEO eventually, but the 88-year-old Buffett has no plans to retire.

Buffett also says the two investment managers that Berkshire hired several years ago have done well, though their investments have trailed the S&P 500 a bit since they joined Berkshire. He did say both have outperformed his own investments.