Warren Buffett on not deploying massive cash pile: 'We don’t see anything that attractive'

Julia La Roche
Correspondent

Famed investor Warren Buffett’s phone began ringing in mid-March from companies seeking investment as COVID-19 wreaked havoc the economy, but the “Oracle of Omaha” hasn’t acted yet.

"We haven’t done anything because we don’t see anything that attractive to do. That could change very quickly or it may not change,” Buffett said when questioned by a shareholder during Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholder meeting (BRK-ABRK-B), streamed virtually on Yahoo Finance.

During the financial crisis, Berkshire Hathaway made lifeline investments, especially to the banks, which was viewed by many as a Buffett seal of approval. During the meeting, he said his “timing was terrible” in 2008 and 2009 as the value of those investments fell much further, but he “still came out al little better than OK.”

“What we did was not designed to make a statement. It was designed to take advantage of what we thought were very attractive terms,” he said of those investments.

After the Federal Reserve’s moves in late March, those companies that called him in March were "able to get money in the public markets at terms we wouldn't have given," Buffett added.

"This is a very good time to borrow money, which means it may not be such a great time to lend money. But, it's good for the country that it's a good time to borrow money — not good for Berkshire, particularly, although we borrowed some money, so we've put our money where our mouth is," he said.

Billionaire financier and Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett smiles as he plays bridge with shareholders during their annual meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, May 4, 2008. REUTERS/Carlos Barria (UNITED STATES)

On Saturday, Berkshire Hathaway reported its first-quarter earnings results, revealing that its cash pile has grown to $137.263 billion, up from $127.997 billion. Buffett and his right-hand man, Charlie Munger, have often discussed maintaining enough cash to guard against calamities.

"Our position will be to stay a Fort Knox," Buffett said during the meeting.

There’s been a lot of speculation about what legendary investor Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway will do with its massive cash pile, especially if he’ll seek an “elephant-sized” acquisition.

Click here for complete coverage of Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway.

Julia La Roche is a Correspondent at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter

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