Weekend thoughts 05-07-2022: Berkshire Hathaway 2022 shareholder meeting

Reading Time: 5 minutes

I went to Omaha last weekend, left STL on April 29 Friday, attended meeting on April 30 Saturday, and left Omaha back to STL on May 1st Sunday. The full comment and Q&A session (including the actual shareholder meeting) is broadcasted by CNBC and available at YouTube.

Note when I drove to Omaha on Friday 4/29, the market was in a tail spin, and so did the market perform poorly this week. But at the Berkshire church, we are value investors, and we don’t care about the daily (weekly, monthly) fluctuations. I think with the modern technology (don’t recall exactly at which year Berkshire starts to broadcast its annual shareholder meeting), the technical side of things can be learned at the comfort of home. On YouTube there are a lot of materials on Warren / Charlie spoke at past shareholder meetings, such as this YAPSS channel, note there are others too including Warren and Charlie’s other talks especially to college students. The whole #BRK2022 meeting video is about 6 hours long, with the last hour being the official shareholder meeting, with questions related to shareholder proposal (somewhat politics related). One thing surprised me a bit is the tone of some of the shareholder proposal, and Buffett’s patience on answering some of those, such as this one at 5 hour 18 minutes mark of the video. My sense is very few CEO would have that kind of patience. This is shown in the Q&A part of the meeting as well, I imagine some of the questions have been asked again and again because they have done this probably for 20 years. But Charlie and Warren answered those regardless.

The movie at the beginning of the meeting: I noticed Susan Buffett (Warren’s daughter) is the executive producer, and it was fun to watch overall. It has some ads, as well as some old video clips such as Warren’s testimony during Salomon Brother crisis. Other notable things are the exhibits, which has things from Brooks Running, to Clayton homes (manufactured home), DQ, Netjets, See’s candies. The movie also showed all Berkshire managers including Ted and Todd (investing managers). Warren’s skit with Bill Murray was a bit interesting too (confuse Warren Buffett with Jimmy Buffett, the singer). I noticed Bill Murray is a BRK shareholder and recently he got into hot water. I was not 100% sure that Susan Buffett (or Warren Buffett) was taking a side here. Also I am not positive the movie is available online: this seems like one benefit that’s only available for shareholders attending in person. Overall I liked the movie especially on the side of “don’t take oneself too seriously”, “poke fun at self” (again Warren vs Jimmy Buffett) and so on. It’s a strength of American culture, as poking fun at politicians are allowed, sometimes I felt bad for Bill Clinton as I saw comedians and talk show hosts pounced on him all the time, but hey, why would he looked at Aliana Grande (who could be his grand daughter’s age) in such a creepy way. Okay I will back to the topic.

International audience: there are many international audience in person, as some may have see from the questions being asked, also I noticed in the hotel I stayed, there are quite a few private jet pilots. Maybe next time I will fly the private jet, instead of driving back and forth. Talking about driving, I was a bit tired on the way home, both due to the 5k I ran in the morning (the invest in yourself 5k), and also because of I was a bit sick coming in, plus I had a small incident on Saturday.

The incident was I messed up my only long pant in the morning when I was waiting outside CHI health center. The line was long at about 7:30 am, so I decided to go to the nearby hotel to see if I can use the restroom. It was a bit too late… thus on the rest of the day I only had a swimming trunk as my bottom. The temperature was in 50s that day, and people may think I am a runner or something. Yes I do run, but I would probably wear a long pant in that kind of weather. The lesson here is always have some margin of safety (room for error or unexpected), so I will bring an extra pants next time when traveling. Another lesson is try to look out for restroom in a new area, just in case, in this scenario it seems the nearest one is Marriott hotel across the street.

Some other odds and ends: I noticed there are a few homeless people near the downtown hotel I stayed. I stayed at the Hyatt Inn near old market in downtown Omaha. I also found a bit authentic Chinese restaurant (Blue and Fly) eventually, after eating ramens at two Japanese restaurants near downtown. I found and walked near the Berkshire HQ office as well. CHI Health center: it’s a big place, noticed they did not charge sales tax for See’s candies etc, don’t know why. But they don’t allow outside snacks or food, drinks in (to protect their concession sales). I did not bring much, but they threw away a few small snacks I bring in the case I don’t know where to get lunch. Warren said “midwestern time” instead of “US central time”. I noticed Gerald Ford, the former US president, was born in Omaha (saw a sign on highway on Ford). I think “midwestern value” can be seen in both in Omaha, and in Berkshire (Warren and Charlie). In addition to international audience, there are lots of domestic audience including US, midwest and Omaha residents too.

PS: this is my dream 16 years in the making. Back in 2006 I thought about going, but didn’t due to various reasons (maybe mostly financial). I am glad I am in a better position now 🙂 All in all, I like what I saw in this trip, and hope to visit sometime in the future too. If my kids and my wife can join, that will be even better.

Photos and video

Slideshow for 04-30-2022

Berkshire Hathaway HQ outside view

Tweets thread (Mine, Thomas Chua, The Rational Walk)

Planning trip

Past BRK Shareholder meetings (full sessions)

2020

2012

2011 (before 48 mins mark, there are quite a bit coverage on David Sokol. Tom Murphy: you can always tell a man go to hell if this is such a good idea. -Charlie Munger summed it well)

2005 (TIMESAVER EDIT – FULL Q&A) (Fun momemnts: at 43 minutes mark, a kid asked about See’s Candies and Petro China) (One hour 30 minutes: public school systems in Omaha) (2 hours mark: the comments on AIG and Hank Greenberg are interesting, as we know AIG blew up about 3.5 years later, amid 2008 financial crisis)

2001 (3 hours 54 mins mark: don’t go short. At 4:12 mark, Warren talked about California utility does not have incentive to produce more electricity due to new regulation. This sounds like what the US oil industry is doing in recent years. Note I am not taking sides on politics / climate change)

1999 (At one hour 4 minutes mark, shareholder asked about a question on Chinese stocks, Charlie commented “I don’t know much about China”. This is interesting, as Charlie grew closer to Li Lu in last 20 years or so, and Berkshire bought $BYD shares too. Also at one hour 8 minutes mark, “rich vs wealthy” is interesting.) (Books Charlie and Warren recommended: The Warren Buffett Portfolio, Titan the biography of the original John D. Rockefeller, Guns, Germs, and Steel,” which was a physiologist’s view of the economic history of man, The Wealth and Poverty of Nations.” And the guy’s name is [David] Landes; “Common Sense on Mutual Funds,” by Jack Bogle)

1998 (TIMESAVER EDIT – FULL Q&A, I just noticed all the TIMESAVER EDIT video have all the notes)

1997 (At 3 hours 28 minutes mark, an audience asked a Disney question which is relatable to today’s political environment. Buffett’s answer: I’m delighted to have my grand children expose to full range of #Disney products, and I love to take them to #DisneyLand #DisneyWorld, Disney movie and videos…I don’t have problem gays being employed (clap). Ditto here for me taking my kids to Disney. At 4 hours 19 minutes mark, the comments about McDonald’s are interesting.) || I just noticed the video has all the notes too, such as the McDonald’s vs Coca-Cola… this is excellent.

1996

1994

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