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Warren Buffett: Coronavirus outbreak shouldn’t affect what investors do with stocks

Berkshire Hathaway's chairman and CEO Warren Buffett told CNBC's Becky Quick on Monday that while the coronavirus outbreak is daunting for the human race, it shouldn't impact investors' portfolio decisions.

As the coronavirus outbreak sparks fears of a slowdown in global growth, Buffett closed the CNBC interview saying his long-term outlook remains unchanged.

“We’re buying businesses to own for 20 or 30 years. We buy them in whole, we buy them in parts … and we think the 20- and 30-year outlook is not changed by the coronavirus.”

Buffett said that while the coronavirus outbreak is daunting for the human race, it shouldn’t impact investors’ portfolio decisions. “It is scary stuff. I don’t think it should affect what you do with stocks, but in terms of the human race it’s scary stuff when you have a pandemic,” he said. Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting is May 2, which Buffett said the coronavirus could “very well” impact.

As the coronavirus outbreak hits stocks, Buffett said, “a very significant percentage of our businesses one way are affected.” He added, however, that the businesses are being affected by a lot of other things, too, and he said the real question is where those businesses are going to be in five to 10 years. “They’ll have ups and downs,” he said.

Specifically, he pointed to Apple and Dairy Queen being hit, as well as carpet maker Shaw Industries.

The Berkshire Chairman said he spoke to Microsoft founder Bill Gates about efforts to contain the spread and impact of the coronavirus. “Now what they hope to get is a universal flu vaccine, but that’s a long way off. It isn’t impossible. I mean I asked my own — my own science advisor is Bill Gates … I talked to him in the last few days about it and he’s bullish on the long-term outlook for a universal prevention of it.”

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