Warren Buffett slammed SPACs, blasted Robinhood, and defended 'big tech' valuations at Berkshire Hathaway's annual meeting. Here are the 23 best quotes.

Warren Buffett slammed SPACs, blasted Robinhood, and defended 'big tech' valuations at Berkshire Hathaway's annual meeting. Here are the 23 best quotes.
Warren Buffett.Yahoo Finance/YouTube

  • Warren Buffett spoke at Berkshire Hathaway's annual meeting on Saturday.
  • The famed investor criticized SPACs, Robinhood, and market speculation.
  • Buffett said "big tech" stocks don't look pricey with interest rates and bond yields so low.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Warren Buffett took aim at special-purpose acquisition vehicles (SPACs), Robinhood, and market speculation at Berkshire Hathaway's annual meeting on Saturday.

The famed investor - along with his 97-year-old business partner, Charlie Munger, and two other Berkshire deputies - also defended "big tech" valuations, suggested that selling the airlines last spring saved him a fortune, and said he was likely wrong to pare Berkshire's Apple position and dump its Costco stake last year.
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Here are Buffett's 23 best quotes, lightly edited and condensed for clarity:

1. "I never thought I'd ever see a figure like that. I was trying to remember whether I'd gone on vacation during that quarter and turned things over to the other guys or what. But I checked the calendar, that was me." - commenting on Berkshire's net loss of $50 billion in the first quarter of 2020 due to an accounting quirk.

2. "The airline business has done better because we've sold." - suggesting the US government might have refused to bail out the "big four" US airlines, and told them to ask Buffett for money instead, if Berkshire hadn't sold its stakes in them in April 2020.

3. "They took a market where Berkshire couldn't sell bonds, and turned it into one where Carnival could sell them a day or two later." - praising the Federal Reserve's swift intervention in markets last spring.
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4. "It's asinine, frankly. To have the people at Business Wire, Dairy Queen, all these places, submit reports to make some common report - we don't do that stuff at Berkshire." - dismissing a shareholder proposal that Berkshire should break out the environmental impacts of all its businesses.

5. "People talk about the aging management at Berkshire. I would like to point out that, in three more years, Charlie will be aging at 1% a year. No one is aging less than Charlie. Some of these new companies with 25-year-olds, they're aging at 4% a year. We will have the slowest aging management percentage-wise by far that any American company has." 6. "I sold some stock last year. That was probably a mistake. I can only do so many things that Charlie lets me get away with, and I used them up between Costco and Apple. He very likely was right in both circumstances."
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7. "We don't think they're crazy. If interest rates are appropriate and 10-year Treasury bonds are priced correctly, those companies are a bargain. The stocks are very, very cheap." - arguing that "big tech" stocks such as Microsoft and Alphabet aren't expensive on a relative basis.

8. "Charlie and I consider it the most interesting movie by far we've ever seen in terms of economics." - discussing the potential consequences of vast amounts of stimulus and near-zero interest rates.

9. "If I could reduce gravity's pull by about 80%, I'd be jumping in the Tokyo Olympics." - explaining how interest rates are to valuations what gravity is to matter.
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10. "It's a killer. You stick a famous name on it and you can sell almost anything." - discussing how competition from SPACs has made it harder for Berkshire to make acquisitions.

11. "You have this incredible, huge asset to humanity, but it really makes its money when people are doing stupid things." - describing how markets are a powerful wealth-generation tool, but Wall Street cashes in the most when people trade more often, take bigger risks, and pay more fees.

12. "Nobody tells you when the clock is going to strike 12 and it all turns to pumpkins and mice." - warning speculators that the buying frenzy will end without notice.
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13. "We've got probably $70 billion or $80 billion that we'd love to put to work. We probably won't get a chance to do it under these conditions, but conditions change very, very, very rapidly sometimes in markets."

14. "Don't we know that coal is going to be phased out over time? Of course we know coal is going to be, but that doesn't mean we're going to be phased out over time."

15. "We've probably got hundreds of thousands of people watching this that own bitcoin, and we've probably got two people that are short. So we've got a choice of making 400,000 people mad at us and unhappy, or making two people happy." - explaining why he declined to share any thoughts on bitcoin.
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16. "It would depend on the premium, and it would probably have a somewhat different rate if Elon was on board, or not on board. If somebody's asking to insure something, it makes a difference. That's called getting skin in the game." - commenting on whether he would insure Tesla CEO and SpaceX boss Elon Musk's mission to Mars.

17. "They're both absolutely terrific. That's one reason I don't want people quizzing them on stocks. They are assets of Berkshire, there's no reason for them to be out educating other people on how to compete with us." - explaining why his portfolio managers, Todd Combs and Ted Weschler, stay out of the public spotlight. 18. "We've got this terrific company that makes recreational vehicles and is based in Elkhart, Indiana. We bought it 15 years ago and I've never been there. Maybe there's some guy in the closet just making up numbers to send to me every month." - joking about the extent of Berkshire's decentralized operating structure.
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19. "There's nothing illegal about it, there's nothing immoral. But I don't think you build a society around people doing it. I hope we don't have more of it." - commenting on Robinhood users who buy and sell options and make short-term gambles.

20. "If we knew how to make a lot more money trading stocks, we'd probably be trading stocks too. But we don't know how to do it, and we really don't trust anybody else to do it for us." - commenting on the rise of quantitative investing and successful funds such as Jim Simons' Renaissance Technologies.

22. "My biggest lesson has been to listen more to Charlie. He's been right on some things that I've been wrong on."
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23. "We enjoy, in a crazy way, actually seeing what happens. Halfway through the movie, we're much more interested than at the start." - questioning how the US stock market and economy will fare as it reopens from the pandemic, and the impact of stimulus checks, rock-bottom interest rates, and the Fed pumping liquidity into markets becomes clear.

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