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Buffett touts benefits of buybacks in his shareholder letter

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Billionaire Warren Buffett said critics of stock buybacks are “either an economic illiterate or a silver-tongued demagogue” or both and all investors benefit from them as long as they are made at the right prices

ByJOSH FUNK AP Business Writer

February 25, 2023, 10:02 AM

OMAHA, Neb. — Billionaire Warren Buffett said critics of stock buybacks are “either an economic illiterate or a silver-tongued demagogue” or both and all investors benefit from them as long as they are made at the right prices.

Buffett used part of his annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders Saturday to tout the benefits of repurchases that fiery Wall Street critics like Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders and many other Democrats love to criticize. The federal government even added a 1% tax on buybacks this year after they ballooned to roughly $1 trillion in 2022.

“When you are told that all repurchases are harmful to shareholders or to the country, or particularly beneficial to CEOs, you are listening to either an economic illiterate or a silver-tongued demagogue (characters that are not mutually exclusive),” wrote Buffett, who himself is a long-time Democrat.

Buffett said Berkshire’s remarkable record of doubling the returns of the S&P 500 over the last 58 years with him at the helm is the result of only “about a dozen truly good decisions – that would be about one every five years.”

He recounted a few of those in his letter, but kept his message — which has long been one of the best-read documents in the business world — remarkably brief this year at a little over eight pages. And he devoted an entire page to a tribute to his 99-year-old partner Charlie Munger.

“I think investors — whether they be investors in Berkshire or just students of Berkshire — look to him for more and I think they may come away wanting more,” CFRA Research analyst Cathy Seifert said.

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