On April 30, the day of his annual charity lunch and also his 88th birthday, Warren Buffett sat down for a 22 minute interview with CNBC’s Becky Quick. Normally, you get little nuggets of valuable information from Buffett twice a year, on the day, his Shareholder Letter is released, and again, at the time of the Berkshire (BRK.A)(BRK.B) annual meeting. Barring a moment of crisis or extreme opportunity, real Buffett revelations are sparse.
This birthday interview – see the transcript here and the actual YouTube version here – proved to be an exception. Kudos to Becky Quick, who knew which important questions Buffett might answer and got revealing and expansive answers to several of them. She persuaded him to provide more information than she probably expected on three specific subjects which are of great interest to many investors. They are, as I see them, Apple (AAPL), Berkshire valuation, and – to me, the most important bit of information – his current view of companies built around packaged goods brands.
Along with three specific gems, Buffett provided a valuable tour d’horizon of the current economic and market situation. Markets are not cheap, he implied, but stocks are still better than bonds or any other asset class, and he is still buying. The economy is smoking. Inflation is increasing, and Berkshire can feel its effects in such items as the price of newsprint and paint cans – a fact of possible interest to investors in the home building and home improvement areas.