Tags: Warren Buffett | image | Berkshire | Ackman

WSJ: Warren Buffett Has an Image Problem

WSJ: Warren Buffett Has an Image Problem

By    |   Friday, 13 November 2015 10:23 AM

Warren Buffett, the billionaire chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., is showing cracks in his image as the avuncular guy who built his fortune with hard work and a keen eye for opportunities.

Critics say that façade hides a hypocrite who “gets to play by his own set of rules,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

The latest attack came from Bill Ackman, the activist hedge-fund manager who this week blasted Buffett for owning shares in Coca-Cola Co., which has caused “enormous damage to society” by selling sugary drinks that lead to obesity and diabetes.

His criticism was in response to Charles Munger, the vice chairman of Berkshire who this month chided Ackman for investing in “deeply immoral” drugmaker Valeant Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Buffett’s critics aren’t confined to Wall Streeters who get tarred with accusations of greedily taking dividends from companies after burdening them with unsustainable debt while firing workers. His detractors are also on Twitter.

“Seven out of every 10 tweets that had an opinion about Mr. Buffett this year expressed a negative sentiment such as ‘phony’ or ‘hypocrite,” the WSJ reports, citing a study by social-media analytics firm Crimson Hexagon. “Five years ago, 46 percent of tweets about Mr. Buffett fell into that category. The other tweets professed admiration or said they found Mr. Buffett inspiring.”

The accusations of hypocrisy are partly the result of Buffett’s push for higher taxes while his company takes advantage of tax-deferring credits and incentives.

“Another tax-related criticism of Mr. Buffett emerged last year when Berkshire participated in a deal to merge Burger King with a Canadian company,” according to the WSJ. “Critics said Mr. Buffett was supporting an ‘inversion’ deal that could eventually reduce U.S. tax revenue.”

But even as Wall Streeters criticize Buffett, they conversely admire him for his investment prowess and immense wealth. Ackman described himself as a fan of the billionaire investor.

And not all of Buffett’s investments are home runs.

Forbes.com says Warren Buffett should cut his losses in IBM stock at $2 billion and re-invest the proceeds — perhaps in Microsoft. That's 15 percent of the more than $13 billion of IBM's stock that Berkshire owns, CNNMoney reported.

“In October 2014, IBM abandoned its roadmap to earn EPS of $20 a share by 2015 (employees had long dubbed it Roadkill 2015),” Forbes reported. “Moreover, CEO Ginni Rometty has presided over 14 straight quarters of declining results since taking over at the beginning of 2012.”

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Warren Buffett, the billionaire chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., is showing cracks in his image as the avuncular guy who built his fortune with hard work and a keen eye for opportunities.
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2015-23-13
Friday, 13 November 2015 10:23 AM
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