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Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett explained why he passed on Uber’s initial public offering and why the investing icon avoids most new stock offerings in general.
“In 54 years, I don’t think Berkshire has ever bought a new issue,” Buffett told CNBC’s Becky Quick on Monday.
“The idea of saying the best place in the world I could put my money is something where all the selling incentives are there, commissions are higher, the animal spirits are rising, that that’s going to better than 1,000 other things I could buy where there is no similar enthusiasm … just doesn’t make any sense,” he added.
“I’m not saying that what we’re buying is going to work out better, but there have to always be better things than one single issue.”
Buffett told reporters ahead of Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholders meeting on Saturday that he “looked ” into Uber more than a year ago. Uber is expected to go public later this week. Underwriters set a price range for the company of $44 to $50 per share, valuing it at nearly $84 billion.
The ride-sharing company’s IPO is one of the most anticipated of 2019 and follows that of rival Lyft. Shares of Lyft skyrocketed in their first day of trading but quickly lost steam. Lyft is down 20% since closing at $78.29 on its first day of trading.
While IPOs of disruptive companies like Uber and Lyft are widely followed, Buffett said you need a good reason to buy into them, just like with any other company.
“Whenever you buy a stock … you should be able to take out a one-page sheet of paper and say: ‘I am buying the General Motors company at $56 billion because.’ If you can’t write that out, then you ought to go onto something else,” Buffett said. “If you’re buying groceries, buying anything else, you can answer that question. But if you can’t answer it on something you’re involving your savings in for however many years for, why should you be doing it?”
Buffett said Investors are often buying into an IPO because of the hype involved with them and because they want to catch up with others getting rich and that’s not a sound basis for an investment.