Does Warren Buffett Play By His Own Rules?
- The Wall Street Journal opined that Wall Street's relationship with legendary investor Warren Buffett has turned "openly testy."
- Buffett said last month that activist investors are akin to sharks that "have to keep swimming."
- WSJ added that Buffett "pursues the same profit-maximizing deals that are the target of some of his attacks."
Wall Street has its own version of "Do as I say, not as I do": "Do as Warren Buffett does, not as he says."
The Wall Street Journal opined on Thursday that there is a growing discontent between Wall Street and Warren Buffett. The issue at hand is that Buffett may not be the "folksy, benevolent businessman" that some make him out to be.
Take for example Buffett's opinion on activist investors. Last month, the billionaire investor said that activist investors are similar to sharks that "have to keep swimming."
Does Buffett practice what he preaches? No, at least according to WSJ which suggested that Buffett "pursues the same profit-maximizing deals that are the target of some of his attacks."
As noted by Fortune, Buffett teamed up with 3G Capital to acquire Heinz. The publication pointed out that 3G Capital is "known for its aggressive cost cutting and management reform" which is exactly what they implemented at Heinz following the acquisition.
Isn't this what activist investing is all about?
Heinz grew its EBITDA by 50 percent in the year following the acquisition. Whitney Tilson told Fortune at the time that a shakeup of corporate boards is a "good thing" because a lot of companies, like Heinz, "are just fat and poorly run."
Main Street Isn't Happy With Buffett Either
WSJ pointed out that seven out of every 10 tweets that offered an opinion on Buffett were negative, and included phrases of "hypocrite" and "phony." Just five years ago, only 46 percent of tweets about Buffett were classified as negative.
Buffett also irked Main Street when he advocated higher taxes – at a time when his firm navigates tax rules whenever possible. Naturally, as an investment manager, it is Buffett's obligation to maximize profit whenever and wherever possible, even by (legally) cutting taxes through complex loopholes.
Larry Cunningham, a law professor at George Washington University told WSJ that it is "hard to be a profit maximizer and a moralist."
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