Warren Buffett News: Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK.A)’s Future, Slowing Growth & More

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Editor’s Note: Related tickers: Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A), Heidrick & Struggles International, Inc. (NASDAQ:HSII)

Warren BuffettA Lesson From Buffett: Doubt Yourself (WSJ)
There was no big news at Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A)’s annual meeting this past weekend, but there was one great lesson for investors: Perhaps the most important thing you can do when everything seems to be going right in your portfolio is to listen to somebody who insists you are wrong. To spice up the annual ritual, Berkshire’s chairman, Warren Buffett, invited someone who has placed a bet against the stock—short-seller Doug Kass of hedge fund Seabreeze Partners Management—to join the panel of analysts posing questions to Mr. Buffett and vice chairman Charles Munger.

Warren Buffett’s Booming Furniture Store (WSJ)
Tucked inside a sprawling Omaha mall is one of Warren Buffett’s most-bragged about properties and one of the hottest places to be for Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A) +1.23% shareholders during the weekend-long annual meeting: A furniture store. Though it isn’t as widely known as See’s Candy or Dairy Queen, Nebraska Furniture Mart is almost as big a draw during the Berkshire annual meeting as the Oracle of Omaha himself. The evidence: A cool $35.9 million in sales done during last year’s annual meeting, nearly three-times what it did ten years ago at Buffettpalooza and continuing a sales chart that goes pretty much straight up year-over-year. The lone weekend would equal about 1% of the 2012 annual sales for Berkshire’s retailing unit, where the Nebraska Furniture Mart is housed along with three other furniture retailers and brands such as See’s, Pampered Chef and Oriental Trading Co.

Buffett devotees stick by him even as growth slows (MoneyControl)
Short-seller Douglas Kass, Warren Buffett’s handpicked bear, raised a concern on the minds of many shareholders at the “Woodstock for capitalists” this weekend: Has Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A) become so big that it will find it hard to grow? Many retail investors who converged on Omaha, Nebraska, for Berkshire’s annual meeting on Saturday acknowledged that its fastest growth days are likely behind it. But they said Berkshire is still a good long-term bet as faith remains in Buffett and his management team’s more than 4-decade-long record of stellar returns, and the company’s tentacles into many sectors of the US economy. “Yes, it is a concern, but I have to get my expectations in line,” said Julie Fehrnstrom, a mother of three from Orinda, California, attending her fifth meeting. “They are not driven by short-term decision making and they have really smart management. You really don’t always find that.”

Warren Buffett leads annual meeting like no other (NDTV)
Part rock concert, part investment workshop, the annual gathering of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A) shareholders is an odd mix. But that’s just how the faithful crowd of more than 30,000 who attended Saturday’s version likes it. Getting the chance to learn about business and life from Berkshire CEO Warren Buffett and spend the day with like-minded investors made it worthwhile to brave Saturday’s cool, rainy weather in Omaha, Nebraska. The level of appreciation shareholders have for Buffett becomes clear as he tours the meeting’s 200,000-square-foot (18,600-square-meter) exhibit hall each year.

Buffett Offers a Sketch of Berkshire’s Next Era (WSJ)
Warren Buffett dodged a bear and stuck up for his son at a Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A) +1.23% meeting that otherwise provided few surprises. For most shareholders, that was just fine. It could be that Berkshire shareholders, a generally happy bunch given the meteoric long-term gains in the stock, as well as its 22% jump since January, didn’t have new questions. After all, Mr. Buffett himself invited hedge-fund manager Doug Kass, who is bearish on the stock, to “spice things up” at the meeting by asking tough questions. Although one shareholder wanted to know why Mr. Buffett ate so many hamburgers, the five hours of questions from shareholders, financial analysts and journalists could be grouped into the following categories: the shape, size and value of Berkshire when Mr. Buffett is gone; the hidden identity of Mr. Buffett’s successor; whither big deals; the health of subsidiary businesses big and small; the U.S. recovery and Europe’s economic distress.

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