During the multi-hour question-and-answer session during the Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A) annual meeting, there was plenty that Warren Buffett and his partner-in-crime Charlie Munger said. But what didn’t Buffett say?
To find out, I rounded up the group of Fools who attended the Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A) meeting this year and asked them exactly that. So, Fools, what do you wish Warren had said?
John Divine: Every Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A) investor with a head on their shoulders wishes, to one extent or another, that Buffett had given some idea about who his successor will be. Inevitably, the issue came up — that tends to happen when a legendary octogenarian is the active CEO of the fifth-largest publicly traded company on the globe. The Oracle himself even acknowledged that it was the No. 1 issue facing the company.
But not only did Buffett refuse to name his future replacement, he teased the crowd about it! He had virtually every one of the more than 30,000 attendees wishing they were one of the lucky 13 on the board of directors, who, Buffett nonchalantly informed them, all knew and agreed on exactly who the next head should be.
Asked whether the next CEO would be Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A)’s in-house insurance savant Ajit Jain, Buffett coyly replied that he wouldn’t start guessing with the As. He didn’t know if the Bs would be such a great place to start either, he said. This, of course, caused investors to rack their brains for the remainder of the meeting in an alphabetical fit of anxiety.
Scott Phillips: Warren Buffett is very generous with his time. When you’re worth more than $50 billion, you’re entitled to live life your own way. Yet Buffett appears regularly on CNBC and takes questions from shareholders, journalists, and analysts at the Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A) annual meeting for almost six hours every year.
But despite the 50% stake in a joint venture to buy H. J. Heinz Company (NYSE:HNZ), which was announced recently, Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A)’s cash pile is building up again. I was hoping to hear Buffett say, “We’ve just bagged another “elephant.”
He’s used the hunting metaphor previously to suggest Berkshire needs to purchase very large companies these days to put its money to work. Particularly in the wake of the H. J. Heinz Company (NYSE:HNZ) deal, and the suggestion that Buffett overpaid, the next big deal will allow investors to see if there’s a trend.