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Warren Buffett Backs Goldman Sachs

Updated from 12:27 p.m. EDT

Updated to include more background on Goldman's current troubles and Berkshire's earnings news.

OMAHA, Neb. ( TheStreet) -- Warren Buffett Saturday said he likes Berkshire Hathaway's (BRK.A) investment in Goldman Sachs (GS) and praised the embattled investment bank during Berkshire's annual meeting.

Buffett said Berkshire's $5 billion preferred-stock stake in Goldman provides 10% annual interest and includes warrants that can convert the preferred stock into regular shares at $115 each, according to an Associated Press report. That's significantly less than Friday's $145.20 closing price of Goldman's shares.

Buffett was joined in praising Goldman by Berkshire's vice chairman, Charlie Munger, the report said.

Goldman Sachs is fighting civil fraud charges from the Securities and Exchange Commission. On Friday its shares plunged on reports that the Justice Department was looking into criminal charges against the firm.

Naturally, investors flocking to Berkshire Hathaway's Omaha, Neb. home base for the company's annual meeting were curious what Buffett would have to say about Goldman and Berkshire's preferred-stock stake in the investment bank. Buffett had said Friday that he would discuss Goldman at the annual gathering.

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Buffett and Munger both said that they're happy with Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein's leadership, according to the AP report. They also said they don't view the SEC as a reflection against Blankfein, the report added.

Goldman's troubles appear to be snowballing, however, and its shares fell almost 10% Friday to their lowest level since last July. Catalysts included The Wall Street Journal's report that the Justice Department was looking into criminal charges against Goldman as well as downgrades from two Wall Street analysts who cover the firm.

Also at the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting, Berkshire announced it had swung to a first-quarter profit of $3.6 billion from a year-ago loss of $1.5 billion.

Buffett said the results show that the economy is improving, noting that the company's manufacturing and retail income grew 85% to $477 million, according to an Associated Press report.
This article was written by a staff member of TheStreet.com.

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