Even with the addition of a hedge fund manager meant to inject additional skepticism into Berkshire Hathaway‘s annual meeting, Warren E. Buffett managed to escape making big news here on Saturday. (New York Times)
Before facing questions from a crowd of more than 30,000, billionaire investor Warren Buffett got a rock star’s treatment Saturday when he was mobbed by fans at Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting. (USA Today)
When it comes to making a splash without making news, it’s hard to beat Warren E. Buffett.
Every spring, Buffett, chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., presides over a capitalist love fest in Omaha, Neb., that is much more than the company’s annual meeting. Whether it is “news” is open to debate. “There was no big news at Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s annual meeting this past weekend,” Jason Zweig wrote to begin his column in the Wall Street Journal. If so, Zweig might have stopped right there.
Newspapers especially love Buffett and his meeting, not necessarily because he’s been buying newspapers and is upbeat about their future,* but rather because he gives us live business copy on a weekend. Wire editors rejoice at the prospect, as do copy editors, who get to write “Oracle of Omaha”** headlines.
No power will keep us from writing about Buffett. He’s regarded as, among other things, a plain-speaking man of the people. That’s a neat trick for the second-richest man in America, whose company has never paid a dividend and whose Class A stock sells for $165,000 a share. Berkshire Hathaway’s Class A stock has never split because, Buffett says, he likes investors who are in for the long haul. The company’s Class B shares — the creation of which Buffett allowed only reluctantly — are more affordable and have split. That put them in Standard and Poor’s 500-stock index, which for the first time gave Berkshire Hathaway direct influence over the stock market’s fortunes.
When handling stories about the Woodstock for Capitalists, bear in mind that what Buffett says at them is carefully planned to put the wizard in the best possible light. Edit accordingly. You can start by ditching “Woodstock for Capitalists.”
*Berkshire Vice Chairman Charlie Munger pointed out that Buffett made an exception to his usual investing habits for newspapers because he likes them. (Associated Press)
**Various sources, including Wikipedia, note that Buffett is known as the “Oracle of Omaha,” and also the “Sage of Omaha” and, relatively rarely, the “Wizard of Omaha.” (I am allowed to look at Wikipedia only because I am a highly trained professional. Before trying it yourself, be certain of your credentials. Material from Wikipedia may be used only when it relates to Wikipedia itself.)
Whatever else may be going on in the markets, it ain’t no “party.” Take the usual steps when considering a “party’s over” headline: contemplate and reject.