As my plane landed , the excitement began to build as I stepped out into 90 degree weather. The Friday evening party under the big Borsheims tent, had the crowd sweating and jumping to music. I even took time to dance as I stood at the open bar. Saturday’s Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting, was filled to capacity at the Center Link arena in Omaha. As I found a seat on the main floor of the arena, I found a cellophane package on my seat. And in “Woodstock for Capitalist’s” style, an elderly man instantly helped me off with my jacket so I would be more comfortable. The 30 minute movie before the meeting included, Warren Buffett on the set of the Fox show “Glee”, introduced to some of the cast as a new addition to the Glee club. As students were skeptical of this older Glee member, Coach Sue Sylvester, played by Jane Lynch, did speak of her torrid love affair with Warren Buffett when she was a head coach in Nebraska. Although, thinking back she did remember trying to poison him while they were dating.
Before the meeting could begin, Warren asked everyone to open their cellophane packages which contained, See’s Candies’ butterscotch pops on a stick. And asked the crowd to hold them up so that they may attempt a world record for a group of people approximately 35-40, 000 people at the same time holding and then enjoying this candy. Candy at about 9 am, kept everyone in an even better mood. One of the questions that one reporter said he was being emailed by people in the audience was concerns about Buffett’s health or as he put it ”.. how are you?”, regarding his 1st stage prostate cancer. A roar of applause followed. And Warren answered simply,”..I’m fine.” later in the meeting, questions were asked why or when their might be dividends offered on Berkshire Hathaway’s stock. Warren did mention he had offered a dividend in the 1970’s. Jokingly added, I wont do that again. 82 year old Warren Buffett’s right hand man, 88 year old Charlie Munger, got a bit more agitated by the question and suggested that.”.. if you’re asking that question you’re at the wrong meeting… and you shouldn’t be here. When asked, by someone regarding the “Buffett Rule” Warren responded,”People who make very large income pay commensurate to what they earn…take the top 400 people in the country. It adds up to $ 270 million each. That’s 270 million per person. When we’re asked for shared sacrifice, I would at least make sure these people be taxed at higher rates. Vice Chair, Charlie Munger also jokingly commented on the Buffet rule,”It has significantly reduced my popularity at my country club.”. Said Warren, ”if it keeps him out of the country club more, that’s great!” And Warren’s opinion of the stock market is, taken from a book he was familiar with when he was in college referring to the stock market as “Mr. Market”. ”Think of Mr. Market as, your partner’s like a drunk. As long as you remember he will make lots of mistakes and when he wants to sell his stock you can take advantage of that. You simply have to do well in stocks. You don’t have to do anything. Compare that to any other business out there. Its a marvelous game if you don’t turn everything upside down and don’t act like that psychotic drunk.” And on Berkshire Hathaway, Warren said, ”We get the opportunity to paint our own painting everyday. And if someone told us to use more red instead in our painting, we might tell them what to do with that paint brush. People are paying us to hold $70 billion of their money. And that’s alot of fun. Said Charlie, “..we don’t have a standard formula.” Warren and Charlie also don’t believe that compensation consultants hired by companies serve a company, only the CEO. Charlie’s take on, compensation consultants is, ”I feel that prostitution would be a real step up for them.” Said Warren, “Charlie is also our public relations department. I told you we’d get around to offending everybody. Charlie later added, ”My opinion is different from alot of people. And of course, I’m right.”
- Bull vs. Bear: Berkshire Hathaway (fool.com)
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- Hold Your Fire: Warren Buffett’s Defense of Executive a Bit Premature (globalcompliance.com)
- Should Berkshire Hathaway Be Trading At 1995 Prices? (seekingalpha.com)