Warren Buffett wrote to Leon Cooperman about stock buybacks, taxing the rich, and the presidency. Here are the 3 messages, from Cooperman’s new memoir

Leon Cooperman

Leon Cooperman.Jeff Zelevansky/Reuters

  • Warren Buffett wrote to Leon Cooperman about inventory buybacks, taxing the wealthy, and Henry Singleton.

  • When Cooperman was mulling a presidential run, Buffett joked he might “ship Nebraska” for him.

  • Cooperman shared a trio of messages he acquired from Buffett in his newly revealed memoir.

Warren Buffett wrote to Leon Cooperman about topics starting from Henry Singleton and Teledyne to inventory buybacks, revenue taxes, and Cooperman’s potential presidential bid.

Cooperman, the previous CEO of Goldman Sachs’ asset administration division, shared three missives from Buffett in his newly revealed memoir: “From the Bronx to Wall Avenue: My Fifty Years in Finance and Philanthropy.”

Listed below are the three messages and the context round them:

1. Expensive editor

Cooperman, who transformed his Omega Advisors hedge fund right into a household workplace in 2018, penned an open letter to the editor of Enterprise Week in 1982. He was aggravated by the journal’s important profile of Henry Singleton, the cofounder and CEO of Teledyne.

In his letter, the billionaire investor trumpeted Singleton’s ability at rising his conglomerate via acquisitions, and driving efficiency at Teledyne’s subsidiaries. Cooperman additionally praised the industrialist for purchasing again inventory at engaging costs, investing the spare money from Teledyne’s insurance coverage enterprise into shares, and constructing the corporate’s money reserves.

Buffett wrote him a word after studying the letter, which Cooperman nonetheless retains framed in his workplace:

Expensive Lee,

I all the time get pleasure from each the standard of your writing and the standard of your considering. Your letter to Enterprise Week concerning Teledyne was 100% on the mark.

Greatest regards,


2. Buybacks, good and dangerous

Cooperman praised Singleton once more at a value-investing occasion in 2007. He pointed to the Teledyne chief for example of an government who performed buybacks the proper method, as he solely repurchased shares at a reduction to their intrinsic worth.

Buffett wrote to Cooperman after his speech to precise his settlement:

Henry was a supervisor that every one traders, CEOs, could be CEOs, and MBA college students ought to research. In the long run he was 100% rational and there are only a few CEOs  about whom I could make that assertion. The inventory repurchase scenario is fascinating to me. That is as a result of the reply is so easy. You do it when you’re shopping for greenback payments at a transparent minimize and vital low cost and solely then. 

As a basic statement I might say that almost all corporations that repurchased shares thirty years in the past have been doing it for the precise causes and most corporations doing it now are fallacious when doing so. Time after time I see managers who’re trying to be ‘modern’ or, maybe subconsciously, hoping to help their inventory. 

Loews is a good instance of an organization that has all the time repurchased shares for the precise cause. I might give examples of the reverse, however I attempt to comply with the dictum ‘reward by title, criticize by class.’

Greatest regards, 


3. Delivering Nebraska and taxing the wealthy

Cooperman briefly mulled a presidential run in 2011. He drew up a nine-point platform that included pulling American troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, rebuilding US infrastructure, deregulating the home power business, and reining in authorities spending.

The veteran investor additionally took purpose at folks incomes over $500,000 a yr, proposing they need to face a ten% revenue surcharge for 3 years. Cooperman despatched his plan to Buffett, and straight requested the Berkshire chief what he thought the utmost tax fee on the highest-earning folks within the US ought to be.

Buffett voiced his help for each Cooperman 2012 and a minimal tax in his reply:

Expensive Lee: 

In the event you run for president, I can ship Nebraska. Simply let me know when to gear up.

There are two potential approaches to growing the charges on these having taxable $1 million or extra with a second step-up at $10 million. One could be to extend the speed at $1 million by 5 factors and at $10 million at ten factors.

One other method would definitely be to have a minimal tax (counting each revenue tax and payroll taxes paid by or on behalf of the taxpayer) of, say, 30% at $1 million and, say, 35% at $10 million. The latter tax would hit me a lot more durable and I lean towards it. Simply altering the marginal fee would hardly hit me in any respect.

Let me know your ideas. No matter they’re, you’ve got nonetheless obtained my vote. 


Learn the unique article on Enterprise Insider

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