Buffett’s Cancer No Reason to Sell Berkshire: Tilson

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Buffett’s Cancer No Reason to Sell Berkshire: Tilson

Warren Buffett tells shareholders that he has been diagnosed with stage 1 prostate cancer. Whitney Tilson, T2 Partners, weighs in.


wait a couple of days. we will be on the conference call. partners on the fast line right now with reaction to this news about warren buffett. warren buffett announcing in a letter that he is diagnosed with stage one prostate cancer. your initial reaction to the news? i only found out a moment ago so i have not had a chance to do too much research. the first reaction is a personal one and i’m very sorry for him personally. i went and did a quick ge search on this and was relieved to see that the five-year survival rates for stage one cancer is 99.9%. i breathe a sigh of reand most importantly for him as a person, but second most importantly as a much more distant importantly as an investor in berkshire hathaway. we added to it recently. based on the assumption that warren buffett will be runing it over the next five years, a good chance over the next years and the news doesn’t change our estimate of that one bit. at what point do you get concerned that you as the investor even if the board knows who the successor may be that you as a shareholder do not? i’m not too worried about this succession issue in part because i don’t think it’s happening any time soon and today’s news doesn’t change that. i think charlie monger said it well a couple of years ago. for 50 years, warren buffett made spectacularly great decisions. one after another, hundreds after hundreds of great decisions. do you think he is going to screw up the most important decision he ever make at the very end? that’s unlikely and a final comment is our valuation of berkshire hathaway pushing $180,000, we do not factor in $1 of warren buffett premium in that. we take the investments per share and put a modest multiple on the business and there is no warren buffett premium in there. we think that’s conservative. if you can hang on, we have becky quick. she knows warren buffett very well and gone out to omaha very well. you got off the phone with him. what did he say? i talked to him briefly, but he said he feels very good right notice and nothing out of the ordinary. it was only this elevated psa level that caused him to look for any of this. he reiterated that this was a treatable position. his doctors diagnosed it and he feels comfortable with it. as he points out, he is not going to be starting the treatment until the middle of july. he said the doctors have no problem with him waiting a few months to start the treatment and in fact he said they wouldn’t have minded if he waited longer on this. this is not an urgent situation necessarily as you might think. you want something to change right away. he will be starting it in the middle of july. part of the reason is because during the treatment, he will be required to not travel. he needs to be there for the treatments and he has commitments including things like the giving pledge that he is active with. sun valley that takes place at the beginning of july. he is planning on keeping all of the condominiums he made to that point before he sits down with the treatment. again, he said his doctors feel comfortable and he feels comfortable with the decision. this shouldn’t change the daily activities in any way aside from that. the annual meeting is coming up in three weeks now and he’s not going to be letting the shareholders down. it should be business as usual. he keeps up a very incredible schedule and incredible pace at the shareholder meetings and expects it to be the same as he always does because he feels good about these things. asking him what else he is talking about, i did ask him if the succession plan is changing because of the situation. he said no. there is no changes to the succession plan. when we were out, cnbc was out speaking with him in omaha, i guess it was the end of february, we were out for a live show and one of the questions we asked is does the successor know who he is? he told us no. just a few minutes ago i asked him if the successor now knows the board settled on one person who does not know who he is. there three people and none of the three people know anything. this is business as usual. there is no change to the plan and the board is confident and knows what they will be doing in the situation. becky quick, thanks so much for filling us in on that. becky quick joins us on the fast line and just getting off the phone and he could make the statement about his own health, he has note alerted the succesr or potential successors of who they are. if it’s a he, it could be of these three. theoretically. i hope not and whitney hopes not. i think you are still on the phone? yes, i am. we are seeing the shares of berkshire’s a’s and bs lower. this could be a knee jerk reaction and we are seeing 1% declines. is that tempting to you? you just added to your position and maybe you are full, but would you at here? i don’t think — this is a mid-teens position for us. it’s a huge position with a 1% decline that won’t trigger any reaction. anything more than that we might. partly the reaction might be that the most recent experience that investor his with a company so incredibly associated with the founder and ceo would be steve jobs and apple. i would just say one, i think warren buff set not going to be highly secretive. i think if you read the book about steve jobs, steve jobs and the company i think, they were real disclosure issues about his illness. i think warren buffett and the press release is taking the opposite of full transparency and will continue to do so. go look at apple’s stock chart. during the illness and the eventual passing and it was a fantastic stock. in other words, what matters is how well the business is doing. any apple investor who is got spooked by steve jobs’s illness which turned out to be fatal left a lot of money on the table. anyone who reacts negatively to this non-news here is making a similar mistake. thanks so much for phoning in and sharing your thoughts on this. of t-2 partners and telling investors in a letter warren buffett is diagnosed with stage one prostate cancer and feels great. he will keep up his schedule until july until he starts treatment. berkshire’s basis on the back of this news, it’s about to get cheaper. i des agree with whitney completely on the analogy to apple. apple is selling products and buffett is not. it’s all about buffett and the investment model. much different. apple is able to have somewhat of a buffer on the loss of jobs in the product. would you buy into that comparison? i’m not sure. i don’t know what to make of it yet. okay. we have to take a break, wu we are following all of after hours action including warren buffett. intel and ibm are all big movers. much more fast straight ahead. while othersare content

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