Ken Fisher Says Buffett Too Old To Adapt

(Business Insider) Warren Buffett didn't capitalize on the coronavirus sell-off because of his advanced age, billionaire money-manager Ken Fisher said last week on "Wizards of Dalal Street," a show on Indian business channel CNBC TV18.

Fisher is the son of legendary investor Philip Fisher, and the founder and chairman of Fisher Investments, which manages more than $110 billion in assets. His assessment of 89-year-old Buffett is based on what he's seen from other senior investors, he told host Ramesh Damani.

"The reality of great investors, including my father and other people, is that when they get to a certain age, they lose their edge," he said.

"I'm not suggesting that Mr. Buffett's lost his edge but I can't find a history of people his age that don't become relatively static in a crisis," Fisher continued.

"It's part of being post-octogenarian," he added. "My sense of Mr. Buffett is that's what happening to him, he's moved into a relatively inactive phase tied to his age. Could I be wrong about that? Yeah."

Buffett, who famously advises investors to "be greedy when others are fearful," came under fire after his Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate made just $1.8 billion in net stock purchases in the first quarter despite the stock market tanking.

The famed investor also disappointed his shareholders by repurchasing only $1.7 billion worth of Berkshire stock last quarter. Moreover, it netted about $6.1 billion from stock sales in April after dumping its stakes in the "big four" US airlines. 

The lack of stock purchases and buybacks, plus a dearth of the kinds of deals that Buffett struck during the financial crisis, meant that Berkshire grew its cash pile to $137 billion last quarter, when it was widely expected to deploy a chunk of it.

Rather than his age, Buffett's surprising inactivity could reflect unprecedented intervention by the US government and Federal Reserve. Corporate bailouts and liquidity injections have shored up financial markets, limited the number of bargains available, and resulted in fiercer competition for deals.


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