Billionaire Warren Buffett announces new investments
Warren Buffett used the annual meeting of Berkshire Hathaway Inc BRKa.N to announce huge new investments, including a larger interest in Activision Blizzard Inc ATVI.O, while also addressing the threats of inflation and nuclear war to his conglomerate.
It was Berkshire’s first shareholder meeting since 2019 when COVID-19 wrecked America’s largest business gathering for two years.
It permitted shareholders to question Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger for five hours, as well as Vice Chairman Greg Abel, who would take over as CEO if Buffett was unable to serve.
Warren Buffettsaid Berkshire’s combined shares in Chevron and “Call of Duty” game creator Activision Blizzard Inc ATVI.O increased roughly six-fold to about $31 billion. Read the rest
Berkshire’s first-quarter operating profit remained steady at $7.04 billion, despite supply chain interruptions from COVID-19 variations, the Ukraine incursion, and inflation. Read the rest Read the rest
After two meetings without shareholders, Warren Buffett, 91, said it “truly feels wonderful” to address them in person. Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, and Bill Murray, actor, were among those present.
In his annual shareholder letter in February, Buffett decried the dearth of chances.
A shareholder wondered what changed in March when Berkshire purchased 14.6% of Occidental Petroleum and agreed to buy Alleghany for $11.6 billion.
Buffett said he chose Occidental after reading an analyst report and Alleghany after writing to its CEO, a former General Re executive.
“Markets are chaotic, and Berkshire gets a chance,” he remarked. “Not because we’re clever… We’re not crazy.”
Berkshire spent $51 billion on stocks and lost $40 billion in cash in the quarter.
Buffett assures that the conglomerate’s cash-generating resources, notably its insurance activities, will not run out.
“We’ll always have money,” he remarked. Like oxygen, it’s always there, but if it goes away for a few minutes, it’s over.
FLIP A COIN
When asked if the Ukraine crisis may evolve into a nuclear war, Buffett and Jain stuttered.
Jain, who has long been praised by Buffett, said he couldn’t estimate Berkshire’s insurance exposure.
Although the globe had “gone near” to a nuclear assault during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, Buffett said it was “extremely unlikely.”
“Every day the world flips a coin,” Buffett stated. “Berkshire has no response.”
Buffett has targeted a favorite target by comparing the markets to a casino or gambling partner.
“Wall Street fostered that to an amazing degree in recent years,” he remarked.
The 98-year-old Munger said that if a counselor advised you to deposit your retirement money there, “simply say no.” Munger also slammed Robinhood Markets Inc. HOOD. O Read the rest
At the meeting, he and Buffett ate See’s candy and drank Coca-Cola, a Berkshire investment.
Abel defended BNSF, saying it needed to improve operations and customer service to compete with Union Pacific UNP.N.
According to Buffett, the company’s culture and business model will survive his and Munger’s departure.
“Berkshire endures,” he remarked.
Also rejected were demands that Berkshire publishes more about its diversity initiatives and climate risk management, as well as appoint an independent chairperson to succeed Buffett.
Buffett has led Berkshire since 1965, and Mario Gabelli, CEO of Gamco Advisors and a major Berkshire shareholder, opposes his ouster.
In his opinion, firms should consider separating the chair and the CEO. “It’s absurd in the instance of Berkshire Hathaway, which has done an excellent job for 50 years. But not here.”
Thousands gathered outside the downtown arena before the doors opened at 7 a.m. (1200 GMT).
Berkshire expected lower attendance than in 2019, and roughly 10% to 15% of seats were unoccupied.
Nearly everyone didn’t wear masks this weekend, but they all needed confirmation of the COVID-19 vaccine. On CNBC.com.
“I got a chair from Walmart,” said Tom Spain, proprietor of Henry Spain Investment Services in Market Harborough, England. “Everyone uses it. Next year I may bring a huge container of coffee.”
Lauritz Fenselau, 23, of Frankfurt, Germany, arrived at 4 a.m. for his first encounter. “It’s a pilgrimage.”
Andres Avila, who arrived in Omaha from Boston barely five hours before the 4:45 a.m. line, was also sleep weary.
“Idols are here,” he remarked.
Shareholders at Berkshire Hathaway rejected demands to replace Warren Buffett with an independent chair and to urge the business to publish more about climate risks and diversity efforts.
Berkshire said shareholders backed keeping Buffett as chairman and CEO by about 6-to-1 at its annual meeting in Omaha, Nebraska.
Buffett has been CEO since 1965.
An investor in Berkshire claimed it was bad corporate governance for the famed investor to have both positions.
Calpers, the largest US public pension fund with $460 billion invested on April 28, indicated support for its plan, as it has at other corporations.
But Buffett’s board determined he should maintain both jobs. Howard Buffett, a Berkshire director, is poised to succeed his father as non-executive chairman.
Shareholders also rejected plans to make the corporation more transparent about climate risks, greenhouse gas emissions, and diversity initiatives across its dozens of subsidiaries.
On diversity, equity, and inclusion, Berkshire’s board said its operational firms already reported or effectively addressed environmental risks.
Given Buffett’s vote power of 32% at Berkshire, the ideas had little chance of passing. He controls almost 16% of Berkshire.
Shareholders overwhelmingly approved Berkshire’s 15-person director slate.