Buffett Can Bend His Own Rules

When Berkshire Hathaway buys pricey stocks of companies that pay hefty dividends and repurchase shares, it may appear to go against his mantra of “never lose money,” since a short-term price dip is more likely. This according to Validea CEO John Reese in last week’s CNBC.com.

In the article, Reese discusses Berkshire’s seemingly unlikely stakes in both IBM and Apple, given that many believe the companies’ best days are behind them. However, the Oracle believes that the tech giants, “have settled in as slower-growth companies that pay investors back in dividends and share buybacks, enough to compensate for short-term drops in their stock prices.”

Reese cites Buffett’s 2011 letter to shareholders in which he explains his foray into IBM ownership, saying that the stock “would deliver benefits in the form of billions of dollars in dividends and repurchases over time.”  The decrease in IBM’s share price since that time (from $174 to $137 as of September 2015) time drew a lot of attention and seemed to fly in the face of his own philosophy, yet Buffett continued to build his holding in the company. Buffett isn’t a short-term investor, Reese writes, “and temporary dips in a stock he owns aren’t going to hold much influence over him.”

The article says that last year, Buffett emphasized his position by telling investors he had no intention of disposing of Berkshire’s IBM stake and expected the shares to rebound. Shares are currently valued at approximately $180 per share.

“The lesson is,” writes Reese, “don’t give up on a stock just because it’s down. A well-researched investment should be worth holding onto.”