Buffett & Brexit


“Be fearful when others are greedy, be greedy when others are fearful.” My Warren Buffett high school yearbook quote has never applied more to the Brexit situation. There truly hasn’t been a time since the Great Recession when the market sentiment has been more fearful.

Britain’s vote to withdraw from the European Union came as a shock, and symbolizes a significant separation within the world’s third-largest economy. While the changes in the EU represent a great disruption, I do not think Britain’s independence will result in the economic turmoil that the markets have suggested. Trade and economic activity between Britain and Europe will undoubtedly slow, but the last week’s activity in the market would suggest a recession similar to that of ’08-’09, with banks such as Barclays losing over 20% on two consecutive trading sessions.

To think that the Brexit will cause British financial institutions to collapse is very shortsighted. JPMorgan is forecasting a 13% drop in EPS for European banks. Such a downgrade is noteworthy and impactful on prospective business, but unlikely to cast markets into a recession considering the excessively pessimistic expectations that the market has formulated. While Britain is undoubtedly the most important economy within Europe aside from Germany, its independence should not result in a slowdown that collapses the European markets. Will it stagnate foreign economies, and thus slow that of the US in the short term? Absolutely.

Often times the market’s uncertainty and pessimism is justified. However, uncertainty is a signal for buying opportunities. The market generally reacts worse to uncertainty than it does to bad news. Thus, I have one investment recommendation for the moment: SAN. The Madrid-based bank is trading at under $4 per share; it hasn’t seen a value that low since 1996. SAN will not collapse, it will rebound. SAN’s return to higher pricing will be ugly, as there are some managerial issues in the corporate structure of the bank, but it will not fold as the entire industry came so close to doing in 2009.

“Be fearful when others are greedy, be greedy when others are fearful.”


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