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Why Warren Buffett isn’t buying the Lyft IPO

Heidi Chung

Ride-sharing tech company Lyft (LYFT) officially listed on the public market on Friday and drew a plethora of investor interest. However, legendary investor Warren Buffett is staying far away and recommends average investors do the same.

Just ahead of Lyft’s IPO, the company was valued just shy of $25 billion. “I certainly wouldn't buy a business for $25 billion,” Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, said in an interview with CNBC. “So I look at what I'm getting as a part owner of a business, and I don't know why, with all the things you can buy for $25 billion in this world, that you would pick a business that really has to be earning $2.5 or $3 billion pre-tax in five years to even be on the same radar screen as things you can buy right now.”

Buffett said he hasn’t purchased an IPO 64 years. In 1955, he purchased 100 shares of Ford. “A gasoline dealer was running it and as a favor gave me 100 shares. And I have to admit it now, I think the statute of limitations has expired, I took a free ride on 100 shares and made $500 and that's the only time I've ever done that,” Buffett explained.

Berkshire Hathaway

Lyft kicked off what is gearing up to be a hot year for IPOs, but Buffett doesn’t recommend jumping in on the action. “I think buying new offerings during hot periods in the market, I don't think it's anything that the average person should think about at all.”

When Buffett was asked about missed IPO opportunities, he explained “you can go around making dumb bets and win. It's not something you want to take as a lifetime policy, though. ... I worry much more about the things I do than the things I don't do. I mean, I missed all kinds of opportunities in my life. But you just want to make sure you're on the side of the house when you bet, rather than bet against the house.”

Heidi Chung is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @heidi_chung.

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