Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting, Omaha NE 2008

Typewritten notes courtesy of Peter Boodell

(As is standard, no recording equipment was used to reproduce these notes. As a result, these notes are recollections only – not quotes, and should not be relied upon. –PB)

A short introductory skit – Susan Lucci from All My Children walks on stage:

CM: Where could he be?

Susan Lucci: Detained at the TV studio. Hi Charlie, I'm Susan Lucci. He's going to be a big star.
CM: You have some important qualities that Warren lacks.

SL: There are some changes we need to make. We need to change our dividend policy. We are so cheap to our shareholders.

CM: Sounds good to me.

SL: And I want guidance on earnings, weekly. And we need to pay our directors more than $900/yr. [directors stand up and applaud]

[WB walks in]

WB: What's that talk about dividends? My show is Berkshire Hathaway – All My Children can't do without you, and I can't do without Berkshire.

SL: The deal is off?

WB: You've brought me back to my senses. Pick out anything you would like at Borsheim's, and charge it to Charlie.

WB: We are going to follow usual procedure. We are going to answer questions between now and then, based on who gets lined up at microphone first. Our best estimate is 31k people are here to today.

We have Charlie Munger - he can hear and I can see - we work together for that reason. Hold your applause until the end. Howard Buffett, Bill Gates, Don Keogh, Tom Murphy, Walter Scott, Don Olson. The best directors in America.

We'll take a break at noon.
Q1: Rajesh Vora, Bombay India. I salute your 100% honesty. What key states to correct crowd mindset?

CM: He wants to know how to become less like a lemming.

WB: Since you repeated the question, I'll let you give first answer.

CM: He wants to invest less like a lemming.

WB: I started investing when I was 11. I believe in reading everything in sight. I wandered for 8 yrs with technical analysis. I read Intelligent Investor, chapters 8 and 20 I recommend, and if you absorb it you won't be a lemming. I read it early in 1950, and I think as good a book now as then. You can't get a bad result if you follow it. There is another book out there, Food You Will Enjoy about the Buffett family grocery store. Neither of us were any good at groceries. You don't want to pay attention to my Grandfather's advice on stocks. It has three big lessons, a) stock is a part of a business b) market serves you doesn't instruct, and c) margin of safety. Berkshire holders are better than most at understanding that they own a part of a business.

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