Opening Bell: 03.02.11

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Warren Buffett to CNBC: 'Elephants' Hard to Find, Let 'Zebra' Get Away (CNBC)
Appearing live from Omaha on CNBC's Squawk Box this morning, Buffett told Becky Quick he doesn't have any "high probability" deals in the works now. While he's not necessarily scared away by higher stock prices, they do make it harder to find a deal now than two years ago. Buffett said that of the 50 or so large companies that qualify as "elephants," we would not want to pay a 20 percent premium for most of them. He also pointed out its easier to buy private companies. He doesn't rule out an international acquisition, but said a purchase in the United States is more likely. Buffett also revealed to Becky that Berkshire had an "iron in the fire" within the last few days, but lost out to another buyer. Was it an "elephant" on the scale of Burlington Northern Santa Fe? No, said Buffett, more like a "zebra."

Warren Buffett Sees Uneven Recovery (Reuters)
Buffett said that despite his "enormous respect" for the efforts of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to move the economy forward, more stimulus is not the answer now. "In the end, I don't think we need more of that," Buffett said in an interview on CNBC. Buffett said improvements in the business environment is likely in future months to be reflected by a decline in the unemployment rate, likely to the low 7 percent range by the November 2012 elections from 9 percent now. Activity is "probably closer to inching in most businesses" at Berkshire and in much of the economy, while others are "moving forward" and others are "stuck," Buffett said.

Muni-Default Estimate: $100 Billion (WSJ)
The report, by David Nowakowski and Prajakta Bhide at Roubini Global Economics and released to clients Monday, says state and local debt problems aren't "systemic" in nature, nor will they "infect the financial system." Most of the defaults will occur among special government projects and revenue-generating entities that aren't considered viable, it says. "Defaults will continue to be isolated events.''

Berkshire Hathaway's NetJets Orders Up to 120 Bombardier Business Jets (Bloomberg)
The agreement, worth more than $6.7 billion at list prices, comprises 50 firm orders and 70 options, according to a statement carried today by Business Wire. It didn’t say how much Columbus, Ohio-based NetJets would pay for the aircraft, which will be delivered starting in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Harvard Cubs With $43 Billion Dwarf Their Former Endowment Home (Bloomberg)
Adage Capital Management LP, Charlesbank Capital Partners LLC, Convexity Capital Management LP, Highfields Capital Management LP and Regiment Capital Advisors LLC are all Boston- based investment firms run by former endowment managers at Harvard University. Since leaving the world’s richest school, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, they have climbed into the top ranks of hedge funds and private equity. Altogether the firms oversee more than $43 billion, exceeding Harvard’s $27.6 billion fund. All have beaten their investment benchmarks since inception.

Threezy Does It For Charlie Sheen (NYP)
Sheen's "goddesses" yesterday gave The Post an exclusive look into their steamy triple-decker sex life -- disclosing they all sleep together in one big bed, where they take turns in the middle...Asked if they have sex together, Rachel Oberlin purred, "We do whatever Charlie wants us to do. This is the type of lifestyle I've always wanted, and I'm thrilled with it." Natalie Kenly cooed, "Our bed is big enough for all three of us, and we take turns sleeping in the middle." She did note that there's a second bed in the room so, "if someone's really tired, there's always a place for them to sleep in peace."

Investing Stars Lead Bumper Year For Hedge Funds (FT)
George Soros, whose Quantum fund has made $35bn after fees for investors since it was set up in 1973, is ranked as the man who has done most for clients in dollar terms. He is closely followed by John Paulson- after that comes Ray Dalio with Bridgewater’s Pure Alpha.

Highbridge Capital Said to Shut Asia Fund After Huttenlocher's Resignation (Bloomberg)
Highbridge Capital Management LLC, the hedge-fund firm owned by JPMorgan Chase & Co., is liquidating its $1.4 billion Asia Opportunities Fund after manager Carl Huttenlocher resigned, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

Apple Set To Unveil New iPad, With Or Without Jobs (Reuters)
The show must go on.

Pressure Spurred Disclosure (WSJ)
Goldman Sachs said it may face $3.4 billion in litigation losses above what it has already planned for partly because of investor lawsuits trying to recover losses or to force the investment bank to repurchase securities it packaged and sold. What forced Goldman to make the new disclosure? Regulatory pressure on big banks, as well as a desire to head off more-stringent accounting rules, pushed the firm and other companies to better disclose their potential legal losses.

Charlie Sheen's Inaugural Tweets (Twitter)
The above chocolate milk ad, "Just got invited to do the Nancy Grace show... I'd rather go on a long road trip with [Two and a Half creator] Chuck Lorre in a '75 Pacer," "Winning!" "Questions..? I'm here for my people..! Bring it!!" and, in response to a tweet from P. Diddy ("can u please send me the address to ur house? Ive been dreamin about a party like this all my life! See u soon! Lol"), "Get dressed my man... sending the driver..!"

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