Berkshire Hathaway billionaire Warren Buffett
Berkshire Hathaway billionaire Warren Buffett - 
Listen To The Story

Jeremy Hobson: Well as Europe's debt crisis sent global markets on a roller coaster ride in recent months, many investors just got out of the way so they wouldn't lose their money. Not Warren Buffett -- his company, Berkshire Hathaway says it invested almost $24 billion last quarter. That was the most in at least 15 years.

Marketplace's David Gura reports.

David Gura: Warren Buffet is what's called a "value investor." Jim Angel teaches finance at Georgetown.

Jim Angel: He likes to buy companies that have a strong franchise, or what the strategy types would call a "sustainable competitive advantage."

Translation: companies that don't face much competition. Last quarter he bought a big stake in Mastercard; he owns a lot of Coca-Cola stock; Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway. Angel says Buffett is really good at buying low.

Angel: He made a big bet on Bank of America.

A $5 billion bet, back in August. The financial firm is still struggling and we'll see what happens to it. But Angel says that epitomizes Buffett's investment strategy, which is pretty basic:

Angel: Hm. They need money. They're cheap. I'll buy some.

Buffet doesn't always bat a thousand -- who does? But the 81-year-old investor has a really good track record.

In Washington, I'm David Gura, for Marketplace.

“I think the best compliment I can give is not to say how much your programs have taught me (a ton), but how much Marketplace has motivated me to go out and teach myself.” – Michael in Arlington, VA

As a nonprofit news organization, what matters to us is the same thing that matters to you: being a source for trustworthy, independent news that makes people smarter about business and the economy. So if Marketplace has helped you understand the economy better, make more informed financial decisions or just encouraged you to think differently, we’re asking you to give a little something back.

Become a Marketplace Investor today – in whatever amount is right for you – and keep public service journalism strong. We’re grateful for your support.

Follow David Gura at @davidgura