Charlie and I went to Memphis to look at a chewing tobacco company. In the end, we decided we didn’t want to own it. We would buy stock in a tobacco company, but we didn’t want to own it.
A good example is Charlie’s favorite company, Costco. They are the #3 distributor in the US of cigarettes, but you wouldn’t avoid buying it because of that. You’ll drive yourself crazy trying to keep track of these things. Our philosophy is that it’s impossible to grade marketable securities, but we’ll buy the stocks without any problems, but we just won’t be in certain businesses.
My view is that energy production should move to nuclear. It’s clean, cheap and safe. Coal emissions are bad for the environment; however it’s still a good company. It’s impossible to grade marketable securities on moral activity. Berkshire Hathaway has and will buy what trades, but will not buy companies that engage in certain behaviors. PetroChina owns 40% of the oil in the Sudan that is government owned. If they did not own it, someone else would. Also, you have to keep in mind, if PetroChina did not buy it its possible the Sudanese would own 100% of the oil rights and that’s not so good either.
I find it funny that people find time to protest PetroChina for ownership of the Sudanese oil, but with the $300 billion or so of imported goods from China, these same people don’t protest Chinese goods. They protest investment in Chinese companies though.
Source: Student Visit
Time: January 2007