What it was like at the first in-person Berkshire shareholder meeting in 3 years 2022-04-30 16:40:17

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Omaha, Neb. – Remake of “The Spirit and Mind of the Empire” With words from Berkshire Hathaway, contributors greeted this morning. (I’m not sure if it was actually sung by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, but it sure sounded like that. We’ll try to get you lyrics at some point.) The song is a throwback—appropriate for Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting, which is the definition of old school.

Pick what you wrote today morning brief, 2022 Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-AAnd BRK-B) The meeting was very interesting, dare I say SOP. Distinction is a matter of form and content. The format of the meeting is much the same, (ie the SOP), as it was in 2019, the last in-person event. But the content, which Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger talked about, was very interesting.

I’ll start with the same, that’s simple – everything. Upon entering the convention center and arena, the Berkshire gang returned. Several thousand of them, packing the hall and shopping (to buy Berkshire company goods) until they come down. True, there were fewer Berkshire companies in the hall. For example, the usual large Coca-Cola offering was missing. (I wonder why this is?)

Investors and guests fill the plaza as they arrive for the first in-person annual meeting since 2019 for Berkshire Hathaway Inc in Omaha, Nebraska, US, April 30, 2022. REUTERS/Scott Morgan

Investors and guests fill the plaza as they arrive for the first in-person annual meeting since 2019 for Berkshire Hathaway Inc in Omaha, Nebraska, US, April 30, 2022. REUTERS/Scott Morgan

There are other effects of supply chain pressure, such as the lack of special release Brooks running shoes (Dang!). But supply chain strains do not appear to affect C candy. In fact, it looked like they had tons 11 tons exactly. The contributors seem to have some serious cases of the sweet tooth. Buffett told us See’s hit record sales on Friday.

“Anything that isn’t sold goes to me and Charlie,” Buffett jokes.

(Jimmy) Buffett’s boat, (“When the two giants of the industry meet”) caught my attention. The boat, designed by Parrot boss Jimmy Buffett and made by Berkshire’s Forest River subsidiary, costs $200,000 with a 10% shareholder discount. Buffett said they had sold 15 of them by late Saturday afternoon.

The wanted intro video featured the greatest hits with stars from “Breaking Bad”, “The Office” and “Desperate Housewives”. A classic Buffett clip from 1991 was also included in front of Congress during the Salomon Brothers scandal, in which he uttered the now-famous words (on Wall Street at least): “Lose money for the company, and I’ll be understanding; lose a reputation for the company, and I’ll be tough.” I like Myles Udland’s title in this regard: “This is the moment America met Warren Buffett. “

The original video starring Bill Murray, a contributor (and actor!) was about the past three years of the pandemic, and was a kind of tribute to “Groundhog Day.” (Maybe ‘Caddyshack’ next year?) BTW Bill Murray appeared at the meeting as did Apple CEO Tim Cook and JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon.

OMAHA, NE - APRIL 30: Actor and comedian Bill Murray walks into the conference hall at Berkshire Hathaway's annual shareholder meeting on April 30, 2022 in Omaha, Nebraska.  This is the first time that the annual shareholder event has been held since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

OMAHA, NE – APRIL 30: Actor and comedian Bill Murray walks into the conference hall at Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholder meeting on April 30, 2022 in Omaha, Nebraska. This is the first time that the annual shareholder event has been held since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Soon, Buffett and Munger – Why do they sometimes remind me of Brandolph and Mortimer Duke from “Trading Places”? The stage rose to loud and continuous applause.

“I don’t think we’re hearing anything from index funds,” Buffett said sarcastically.

Buffett and Munger were joined on stage by Berkshire Vice Presidents Greg Abel and Ajit Jane. The Fab Four seem to be doing well.

“It feels good to be in person,” Buffett said. “Charlie and I are 190 and I think we have a right to see the contributors in person.” More jokes about age and dementia ensued.

“A little bit of stock was very interesting to us”

CNBC’s Becky Quick asked a contributor about why Buffett would start buying stock again (eg HP, Allegheny and especially Occidental Petroleum), and Buffett launched into a 15-minute conversation—with an occasional zinger from Charlie—about banks, brokers, the market, his marriage, and even Late gangster Bagsy Siegel. Shareholders carry it.

A woman looks at the screen with a live view of Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett (left) and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger (right) at the Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting at CHI Health Center in Omaha, Nebraska on April 30, 2022. (Photo by Chandan Khanna) / AFP) (Photo by Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images)

A woman looks at the screen with a live view of Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett (left) and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger (right) at the Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting at CHI Health Center in Omaha, Nebraska on April 30, 2022. (Photo by Chandan Khanna) / AFP) (Photo by Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images)

In short, Buffett said, “A few stocks have been very interesting to us.” “It’s important to understand… that the market in the last couple of years… has been exceptional, sometimes efficient, other times almost casino…. and that’s been around to an extraordinary degree over the past two years. Wall Street makes a lot more money when People gamble more than they make when they invest.”

Buffett then went on to talk about — and marvel at — the purchase of 14% of Oxy Pete as it is known, within two weeks. (Berkshire also bought billions of dollars from Chevron recently.) Buffett later said he had “some news”. It was about Activision Blizzard and how BRK now owns 9.5% of the video game giant Thanks to the arbitrage strategy, it is taken over by Microsoft.

Charlie Munger had some great lines as usual: “Now we have computer algorithms that trade with other computers. And people who buy stocks who know nothing are being advised by people who know less. It’s an incredibly crazy situation.”

To follow up on the point, Munger said, “All this activity makes it easier for us.”

“We’re actually counting on it,” Buffett added.

One of the things Buffett talked about at length with me, almost obsessively, on a January phone call, was how much he wanted to count and connect with all of these contributors. He told me, “I don’t know how many we have.” “I tried to find out.”

To that point, Buffett spoke today about Broadridge, a service company Which imposes bills on him to communicate with his shareholders. They told him they had 3.5 million BRK accounts. (There are probably quite a few more accounts than individual contributors.)

I was thinking about this when I looked down on the CHI Health Center which is full, with a capacity of 17,560. Assuming there are a few thousand people in the overflow rooms, that’s probably still less than 1% of the total number of contributors. I’m sure that wasn’t lost on Buffett. He sits in a crowded arena and reaches only a tiny fraction of his audience.

And I could hear it in his voice when I spoke to him earlier this year. He has a great desire to talk to them all.

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