Billionaire investor Warren Buffett told CNBC on Thursday he bought stocks in Wednesday’s big selloff.
He won’t name names or whether he was adding to positions of his current holdings. But he did describe them in a “Squawk Box” interview as “names you’d recognized.”
Buffett said he likes to buy stocks when they go down, not when they go up. “The more [the market] goes down, the more I Iike to buy.” He added that trying to time the market by buying and selling individual names often is a “fool’s game.”
Any investor who’s owned a cross section of American business has done really well over the past 10 or 20 years, he said. Over time, values do appreciate—not for every stock, he said, adding the Dow Industrial Average was under 100 during his lifetime.
With all the talk on Wall Street about when and by how much the Federal Reserve might start increasing interest rates, Buffett said the central bank’s moves have no bearing on his investment strategies. “I really don’t care about whether the Fed is going to raise interest rates.”
He said he buys businesses that he thinks will be good for the next 50 years—such as the deal he announced on CNBC Thursday that he’s buying the nation’s largest privately held car dealership group, Van Tuyl Group.
Buffett also addressed Coca-Coca‘s newly overhauled executive compensation plan, saying it “makes great, great sense.”
Earlier this year, Buffett abstained from voting on a more controversial equity compensation plan at the beverage giant, calling it “excessive.”
But following some tweaks that shifted compensation toward more cash-focused payments and away from stock options, Buffett called the new plan “totally logical from a shareholder standpoint and from the standpoint of motivating employees.”
Activist investor David Winters, chief executive of Wintergreen Advisers, had spoken out about the original plan and pressured Coke to change it. Winters told CNBC’s “Closing Bell” Wednesday, “This new release is an improvement. But there’s more to go to improve Coke’s margins.”
Tax inversions deals
Buffett is helping to fund the deal by committing $3 billion of preferred equity financing.
“Most inversion deals have a big tax motivation, but this one didn’t,” the Berkshire boss said.
He said that Burger King’s highest federal tax bill in recent years was $30 million. If Burger King borrowed money and moved Hortons to the U.S., it would have spend more than than, he said.
Buffett refused to say whether he agrees with President Barack Obama that tax inversion deals are unpatriotic.
But he did say he would like to change the U.S. corporate tax code so American companies won’t be so disadvantaged on the world stage. Many countries in Europe and elsewhere have much lower business taxes compared to the U.S.