Billionaire Warren Buffett says stocks, homes a good deal at the moment

Billionaire Warren Buffett says stocks, homes a good deal at the moment

February 28th, 2012 by Associated Press in Business Around the Region

U.S. Billionaire investor Warren Buffet

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

Closer to home

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway owns Shaw Carpets in Dalton, Ga., and Clayton Homes in Knoxville.

OMAHA, Neb. -- Billionaire Warren Buffett said Monday that stocks remain relatively cheap compared to other investments as the economy continues to improve. He also said that the company he heads is prepared to replace him whenever the need arises.

The chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. addressed a variety of topics during an interview on the cable TV network CNBC, two days after his annual letter to the conglomerate's shareholders was released.

Buffett said even though stocks aren't as cheap as they were during the depths of the recession in 2008, they're still a more attractive long-term option than bonds, gold, cash or anything else.

"Equities are still cheap relative to any other asset class," Buffett said. In his letter, he devoted two pages to explaining why he prefers owning a piece of a productive business instead of bonds or gold.

Houses are another attractive investment at current prices, Buffett said. He added he might buy a couple hundred thousand homes if only he could figure out a way to manage them effectively. He said he isn't very handy.

"Single-family homes are really cheap now, too," Buffett said.

Buffett conceded in his letter released Saturday that he was dead wrong to predict the housing market would recover by now. He said Monday that he believes conditions will improve in 2012.

The reports Buffett gets from Berkshire's roughly 80 subsidiaries, including utility, insurance, retail and railroad firms, show the overall economy has been improving steadily since the summer of 2009 in every area except businesses related to housing construction.

Over the weekend, Buffett created a stir by writing that Berkshire's board had chosen someone to succeed him as CEO someday with two backup candidates. Previously, Buffett had said only that the board had three internal candidates to replace him.