A huge tax cut for guys like me

Speaking at an annual conference of his company's shareholders in Omaha, Nebraska, on Saturday, Buffett said that healthcare costs were the biggest problem facing U.S. businesses, adding that his federal income taxes a year ago would have gone down 17 percent had the new healthcare law been in effect.

Buffett is right that, for most of his stock-picking history, shareholders have likely been better off leaving their money in his care rather than siphoning the cash into their own accounts by way of dividends: Since 1965, Berkshire Hathaway stock has delivered annualized returns of almost 21%, more than double the S&P 500.

"They've been very good about severance pay and all of that, but they have followed the standard capitalist formula, market system formula, of trying to do business with fewer people", Buffett said.

In February, Barclays analyst Jay Gelb said that cutting the corporate tax rate even to 20 percent could boost Berkshire's book value by $27 billion because of a decline in its deferred tax liability.

"I can't recall sending anything out to our managers saying: "Let's do this because the tax law is going to change", Buffett said. He said he would surely come to India if he finds a good value company for sale.

"I had plenty of ways to ask questions, or anything of the sort, and educate myself", Buffett said.

Pentagon to request more troops for Afghanistan
The official was not authorized to discuss the letters publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Theresa Whelan is assistant defense secretary for special operations.


Buffett did lavish much praise on top insurance executive Ajit Jain, who some investors believe could be that successor, saying "nobody could possibly replace Ajit".

"Either you've gone insane or you're learning", the vice chairman told Buffett.

The scandal has spurred millions of dollars in fines and legal costs and dented Wells Fargo's standing as one of the country's best-run banks. Berkshire bought the BNSF railroad in 2010. Buffett said Saturday that Berkshire and 3G Capital were each prepared to put $15 billion into a bid by their Kraft Heinz Co. for Unilever this year. "The CEO has to act", Buffett said.

"It could be repurchases, it could be dividends", he said.

Berkshire Hathaway on Friday said first-quarter profit fell 27 percent, reflecting a big decline in investment gains. But investors pressed him about whether the record cash pile would force him to rethink his approach. "So they have gained a 5- or 6-point advantage", he said.

"We don't like that and we shouldn't use your money that way for a long period of time", he said at the meeting." here's no way I can come back here three years from now and tell you that we hold $150 billion or so in cash or more and we think we're doing something brilliant by doing it".

  • Delia Davidson