Those are the words of Warren Buffett, one of the world’s most famous and successful investors.
Buffett offered the apology at Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting which was held virtually this year, to the disappointment of tens of thousands of shareholders who normally attend what is referred to as the Woodstock of Capitalism.
In 2016, Berkshire revealed a surprise bet on the airline sector that Buffett had previously avoided.
By the end of 2019, the conglomerate had held sizeable positions in the airlines, including an 11% stake in Delta Air Lines, 10% of American Airlines Co, 10% of Southwest Airlines Co and 9% of United Airlines at the end of 2019, according to its annual report and company filings.
Unfortunately for Berkshire and Buffett, the airline industry has been one of the hardest hit by the current global pandemic, and Buffett is not sure if and when the industry can recover from its losses.
At yesterday’s shareholder meeting, Buffett explained that his company and its subsidiaries have now unloaded their entire stake in airlines, saying: “I was wrong about that business.”
I wrote a post a few years ago about how hard it is for some people to admit when they are wrong. That post included a scene I’ve always remembered from Happy Days:
While I have always been impressed with Buffett’s investing ability, I have new respect for the 89-year old Oracle of Omaha after he openly admitted his mistake regarding his investment in airline stocks. He could have placed the blame on others or on covid-19. But he took responsibility for the decision and admitted it was a bad one.
I’ve always admired people who admit when they are wrong, and little respect for those who don’t. We’ve all been wrong about something at some point in our lives, so why not simply admit to it.
I mean if The Fonz can do it, then what’s your excuse?
*image from Financial Times