Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett continues to make headlines this week after releasing his annual letter to shareholders Saturday, and he says the stock market sell-off we’ve seen the past few days is ultimately “good for us.”
“Most people are savers; they should want the market to go down. They should want to buy at a lower price.”
“We’re a net buyer of stocks over time,” Buffett said Monday while making the rounds on CNBC. “Most people are savers; they should want the market to go down. They should want to buy at a lower price.”
Buffett’s comments come as the Dow Jones Industrial Average saw its third-worst day in history on Monday as all three major U.S. indexes cratered on coronavirus fears.
The Dow fell a whopping 1,031 points, or 3.5%, wiping out all of its gains this year, while the S&P 500 fell 3.3% and the Nasdaq 3.7%. Futures were up this morning but falling fast, and all three indices were in the red again by 10:45 a.m. EST.
While offering the disclaimer that Buffett is of course “not a specialist” when it comes to global pandemics, he did warn that “a very significant percentage of our businesses one way are affected.”
But as is always the case, Buffett said investors must remain focused on the long-term — slow and steady wins the race, as the saying goes.
“If you’re buying a business, and that’s what stocks are … you’re going own it for 10 or 20 years,” he said. “The real question is: ‘Has the 10-year or 20-year outlook for American businesses changed in the last 24 hours or 48 hours?’”
The answer to that is of course a resounding “no.” The coronavirus is likely nothing more than a speed bump that will pass in the next few months.
Buffett then called Monday’s 3-plus percent sell-off, which has happened countless times in the history of the stock markets, a buying opportunity.
“I can’t think of one (3% dip) you shouldn’t have bought on,” he said. “How can it be bad news unless you have to sell?
“We certainly won’t be selling.”
Bottom line: Proceed with caution. Even if you’re bullish, and there’s no reason not to be as of yet, continue watching the markets because this dip is likely not over yet, and have your cash ready to deploy. If you’re a buy-and-hold investor, this week could be a great opportunity to get stocks at a discount.