Here's the headline of a CNBC story, as it appeared on Yahoo! Finance this morning: "Warren Buffett: Stocks Will Go a 'Lot Higher'"
Tremendously bullish news: Buy! Buy! Buy!
Hang on a minute. As a fundamental investor with a multi-generational time horizon, Warren Buffett would be the first person to tell you that he has absolutely no idea where the market will be one month -- or one year -- from now. What was the context of his comments?
Here's what the Berkshire Hathaway CEO actually told CNBC's Becky Quick in a live interview this morning [my emphasis]:
In my lifetime, and certainly in your lifetime, you will see markets that are far higher than this. The retention of earnings by American industry [and] the growth of the country will cause stocks to go higher over time. You're not getting everything out of stocks in terms of the dividends they pay compared to the earnings -- retention builds it up.
Aged 82, Buffett's life expectancy is between probably somewhere between 5 and 15 years -- and Ms. Quick's is measured in decades -- so he's not exactly going out on a limb with that statement.
Stocks "reasonably priced"
However, ever value-conscious, he did make a comment that was more meaningful regarding stocks' current valuation:
Stocks are reasonably priced. They were very cheap a few years ago; they're reasonably priced now. But stocks grow in value over time, because [the companies underneath them] retain earnings and they expand. I like owning stocks; I do not like owning bonds now.
Buffett on asset allocation
Furthermore, his view on asset allocation is at odds with what many financial advisors would recommend:
You shouldn't be 40% in bonds. Anyone I've advised, and they're not super-wealthy or anything of the sort -- bear in mind they have the proper attitude in that stocks go down 20% in the next month, they're not going to be bothered -- I would have them having enough cash on hand so that they feel comfortable, and then the rest of it in equities. I would favor [productive assets] enormously over fixed-dollar investments now, and I think it's silly to have some ratio like 30%, 40%, or 50% in bonds -- they're terrible investments now.
Buffet on price levels
Finally, the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) closed above 1,600 on Friday for the first time, while the narrower, price-weighted Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) crossed 15,000 intraday. Here's the Oracle of Omaha's take on those events:
[Investors] should pay more attention when they're crossing those milestones on the downside. That's when stocks are getting cheaper. That's when stocks are going on sale. ... I don't get too concerned about a given level.
Sound advice for all investors, individual and professional alike.