Warren Buffett is using his newfound freedom on share buybacks.
Berkshire Hathaway Inc. has repurchased “a little” of its stock in recent months, Buffett, 88, said Thursday in an interview with CNBC.
Berkshire’s board opened up another pathway for capital deployment in July, when it gave Buffett and Vice Chairman Charles Munger more leeway to repurchase shares. Previously, the company couldn’t pay more than a 20 percent premium over book value for its shares. The new program eliminates that cap, and Berkshire’s shares now trade at about a 45 percent premium to book value. Buffett has used book value as a “rough” measure of the company’s intrinsic value, even though he says it understates the value.
Buffett, Berkshire’s chairman and chief executive officer, is contending with the challenge of deploying a $111 billion cash pile that keeps growing. He lamented in a February letter to shareholders that prices for decent businesses hit all-time highs last year, creating a hurdle for dealmaking. That was aggravated by the amount of “extraordinarily” cheap debt that’s available, he said.
Buffett has repurchased shares before, agreeing in 2012 to buy back some stock from the estate of a longtime shareholder.
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