Warren Buffett said on Saturday that Berkshire Hathaway Inc is poised to do well no matter who wins the White House in November, and the billionaire investor defended the performance and tactics of the conglomerate’s several large investments.
Buffett presided over his 51st Berkshire annual meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, where he and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded five hours of questions on such matters as Coca-Cola’s sugary drinks, lower shipping volumes on the BNSF railroad, risks from derivatives, and who might succeed Buffett as chief executive.
Buffett, a staunch supporter of Democrat Hillary Clinton for president, was asked about the regulatory impact on Berkshire if Republican front-runner Donald Trump wins the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
“That won’t be the main problem,” he said to audience laughter.
“If either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton becomes president, and one of them is very likely to be, I think Berkshire will continue to do fine.”
Because the meeting fell early this year, Berkshire also released only preliminary first-quarter results rather than full results, which will come out on May 6.
Berkshire said net income probably rose 8 percent, helped by a gain from the swap of Procter & Gamble Co stock for the Duracell battery business.
Operating profit probably fell 12 percent, however. Buffett said BNSF was hurt by declining oil prices and coal shipments, while hailstorms caused losses in Berkshire insurance units.
“Railroad carloading throughout the industry – all of the major railroads – were down significantly in the first quarter, and probably almost certainly will continue to be down for the balance of the year,” Buffett said.
Berkshire owns close to 90 businesses in energy, insurance, manufacturing, railroad, retail and other sectors, and invests well over $100 billion in stocks.