Japan a "buying opportunity," will recover: Buffett

Mon Mar 21, 2011 7:24am EDT
 
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By Hyun Joo Jin

DAEGU, South Korea (Reuters) - Billionaire investor Warren Buffett believes Japan's devastating earthquake is the kind of extraordinary event that creates a buying opportunity for shares in Japanese companies.

Japan, the world's third-largest economy, has been battling to bring an overheating nuclear plant under control after it was battered by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that rattled global markets and prompted massive intervention in currency markets by the Group of Seven industrial nations.

"It will take some time to rebuild, but it will not change the economic future of Japan," Buffett said on Monday on a visit to a South Korean factory run by a company owned by one of his funds. "If I owned Japanese stocks, I would certainly not be selling them.

"Frequently, something out of the blue like this, an extraordinary event, really creates a buying opportunity. I have seen that happen in the United States, I have seen that happen around the world. I don't think Japan will be an exception," said the 80-year-old investor, dubbed the "Sage of Omaha" for his successful long-term investment strategy.

Buffett heads Berkshire Hathaway Inc, which has substantial insurance and utility investments globally.

Japan's Nikkei share average rose 2.7 percent on Friday, buoyed by the G7 support, but still ended the week down around 10 percent, with some $350 billion wiped off share values -- the market's biggest weekly slide since the global financial crisis in 2008. Japanese markets were closed on Monday.

Buffett said Berkshire Hathaway, which at the year-end was sitting on $38 billion of cash equivalent and last week bought U.S. specialty chemicals maker Lubrizol for $9 billion, was looking for more large-scale acquisitions anywhere in the world.

In his annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders last month, Buffett had said he was looking for more acquisitions.   Continued...

 
<p>Warren Buffett attends a news conference at a factory of TaeguTec after a ground-breaking ceremony for the factory, run by a unit of an Israeli firm owned by his Berkshire Hathaway, in Daegu, about 300 km (189 miles) southeast of Seoul, March 21, 2011. REUTERS/Truth Leem</p>