Buffett says has no "buy order" on oil sands firms

Fri Aug 22, 2008 2:53pm EDT
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By Jeffrey Jones

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Warren Buffett toured Canada's oil sands with his friend Bill Gates this week to understand how the resources are developed, but the billionaire investor said on Friday he had no plan to buy into the sector.

In an interview on CNBC television, Buffett said he and the Microsoft (MSFT.O: Quote) co-founder discussed their interest in the oil sands a few months ago, and agreed they would get a better education with a first-hand look than just reading about it.

The visit on Monday led some in the Canadian oil and investment industries to speculate that Buffett, chairman of conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N: Quote), and Gates could be readying to invest in the oil sands.

But Buffett said on Friday he has no "buy order" out, pushing down shares that had risen earlier in the week.

"No, no. I go to the movies, but I don't buy movie companies. I mean, I'm always interested in understanding the math of things and understanding as much as I can about all aspects of business," he said on CNBC's Squawk Box.

"And what I learn today may be useful to me two years from now. I mean, if I understand the tar sands today and oil prices change or whatever may happen, I've got that filed away and I can use it at some later date."

Shares in oil sands producers jumped this week on the Toronto Stock Exchange, partly on investor wagers that Buffett and Gates were interested in the business.

But they fell sharply on Friday following Buffett's remarks, and as crude prices tumbled by more than 5 percent.   Continued...

<p>Billionaire financier and Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett attends a television interview during the annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, May 3, 2008. REUTERS/Carlos Barria</p>