Berkshire Annual Meeting Highlights
While Charlie Munger has so far to comment on the 24K content of made in the basement tribalware, he and his partner have made quite a few other statements on items ranging far and wide, during the annual Berkshire Omaha convention, which year after year represents the annual pilgrimage for thousands to a crony capitalist Mecca, and which with the passage of time, has become increasingly more irrelevant. Why? Because with a $58 billion bet (on $37.8 billion in cash and equivalents) that asset prices will go higher, it is rather clear on what side of the 'bail out' argument, and its 'all in' fallback: central planning, Warren Buffett sits.
From the just released 10-Q:
To anyone who has sat through one or more of these spectacles in the past, the "less than dynamic duo" will not tell anything they don't already know, and even on the recently sensitive topic of 'succession' expect virtually no additioanl clarity.
Below is a summary of some of the key soundbites so far.
ON Q1 EARNINGS
"In general, all of our companies, with the exception of the ones in the residential construction business which was the case last year and the case this year ... all of the companies except that area have shown good earnings."
"Everything good happened at Geico in the first quarter."
"Overall, we feel good about the first quarter, we feel good about the year."
ON RISK AND SUCCESSION
"I do believe that the CEO of any large, particularly financial .... company should be the chief risk officer."
"We would not select anyone for that job that we did not think had that ability."
"We're not going to have an arts major in charge of Berkshire."
ON THE POWER TO MAKE DEAL'S IN BUFFETT'S ABSENCE
"Berkshire will possess that subsequent to my departure. I don't think that every deal that I made would necessarily be makeable by a successor, but they'll bring other talents as well."
ON SWISS RE
"There is ability to reprice that business as we go along, but the degree to which we and Swiss Re might want to reprice that may be a point of controversy"
ON SHARE BUYBACKS
"If we could have our way we'd have the stock trade once a year and Charlie (vice chairman) and I would try to come up with an intrinsic business value."
"The 1.1 (times book value) is a figure we feel very comfortable with, we would probably feel comfortable with a figure somewhat higher than that."
ON ENERGY COSTS
"If you told Charlie or me five years ago that you'd have a 50-to-1 ratio between oil and natural gas I think we would have asked you what you were drinking."
Vice Chairman Charlie Munger on U.S. natural gas reserves: "(The) most precious thing we could leave our descendants."
ON GEICO MOVING INTO TELEMATICS LIKE PEERS
"I don't see in this new experiment anything that threatens Geico in any way."
"Our marketing is working extremely well and our risk selection is working extremely well."
ON BUSINESS SCHOOL EDUCATIONS:
"I think they've taught students a lot of nonsense about investments."
Munger: "I think business school education is improving."
Buffett: "Is the implication from a low base?"
ON THE 'BUFFETT RULE' TAX PROPOSAL
"It was more fun to attack something I hadn't said than to try and attack something I had said."
ON INSURANCE AND ASIA
"We have written in the last few months far more business in Asia -- and by that I mean New Zealand, Australia, Japan and Thailand -- we have written a lot more business than we wrote a year ago, two years ago, three years ago."
ON HAVING POLITICAL VIEWS WHILE RUNNING A PUBLIC COMPANY
"I don't think that any employee of Berkshire, I don't think that any of the CEOs of the companies we own stock in, should in any way have their citizenship restricted. When Charlie and I took this job we did not decide to put our citizenship in a blind trust."
On a shareholder's father who does not like Buffett's public advocacy on tax policy: "It sounds to me like he ought to own Fox."
ON A MAJOR ACQUISITION OF MORE THAN $20 BILLION
"We considered one here just a month or two ago which I wish we could have made it."
"It could happen, I don't think it will happen."
"We would have done it if we could have made the deal."
And those depserately fawning over every word uttered in CenturyLink center can find a real time live chat over at Motley Fool.