Warren Buffett turned up yesterday at Fortune's Most Powerful Women Summit, making a number of comments taking to task activist investors and hedge funds in general. Here is a collection of the best ones:
Activists are like sharks, they’ve got to keep swimming, they stretch for targets and you’re seeing that. Companies looking to keep them away are better off focusing on performance and shareholder communication than putting up defenses promoted by securities firms.
The best way to keep activists away is to perform reasonably well in your business and also to communicate well with your shareholders. You’ve got a bunch of owners out there and, on balance, they’re going to be on your side. After all, they’ve got their money with you.
It’s in Wall Street’s interest to scare managements about activists. They’re not dying to have an activist knock on your door, but it doesn’t cause them to break out in tears either because you take them on and they get all involved in your strategy. And it’s their job, to some extent, to make you worry even more than you probably should.
It’s just fun to joust with them, they’re not going to get anyplace, so maybe we can be sort of a rest home for activists.
On activist investors' attempts to change a company: "Munger told me 20 years ago, if you want to guarantee yourself a life of misery, marry someone with the idea of changing them."
And: "For people who go into relationships seeking change, you’ll be miserable the rest of your life, I’m just not looking for that kind of trouble."