On Wednesday, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway said it had purchased 9,200 of its Class A at $131,000 per share ($1.2 billion) from the estate of a long-time shareholder, according to a release.
The next day, CNBC’s Gary Kaminsky called it “hypocritical to the maximum level” because Buffett “never believed in buybacks,” he said during his “Capital Markets Op-Ed” segment. He also suggested that Buffett may have been motivated to do this before the capital gains tax goes up.
Shortly after, Buffett had the following email sent to CNBC executives about Kaminsky’s “major errors.”
And here’s the correction anchor Melissa Lee later read on “Fast Money”:
“We here want to clarify some comments from earlier today. Our Gary Kaminsky was critical of the Berkshire Hathaway purchase of a billion dollars saying Warren Buffett never believed in buybacks and suggested it may have been motivated to take advantage of lower tax rates this year. Mr. Buffett was watching, responding with a letter, taking issue with both of the points. And Mr. Buffett is nothing but meticulous. He said that it’s not true that he never supports stock repurchases. He highlighted a 1984 annual report where he states there is a good reason for share repurchases under certain conditions. He’s repeated that position, including in this year’s annual letter to shareholders. Now, regarding the timing of the sale and possible tax reasons for doing so, Mr. Buffett says estates received a stepped up basis upon death and therefore the estate did not have a gain regardless of when the stock was sold. We thank Mr. Buffett for watching and setting us straight.”
Also, here’s Kaminsky’s earlier on-air op-ed on the buybacks:
[Hat Tip: New York Post’s Kaja Whitehouse]