Warren Buffett's annual shareholder meeting is a perennial blockbuster, and this year did not disappoint. Buffett's comments and those of his cohort, Charlie Munger, are a bellwether not only of Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A, BRK-B), but the global economy itself.
When Buffett and Munger speak, the world listens. Their comments on the economy, the markets, politics, and Berkshire Hathaway are as closely parsed as Federal Reserve statements. But Fed Chair Janet Yellen didn't secure a place in this year's commentary by either Buffett or Munger. Instead, the Oracle of Omaha and his right-hand man focused on business and why shareholders should continue to bet on Berkshire.
And why wouldn't they? No other shareholder meeting commands the attention of 40,000 live spectators — not to mention the viewers from around the world who tuned into Yahoo Finance's live stream of the event.
In case you missed the 8-hour long marathon meeting and you don't have time to watch the replay, here's what went down Saturday as Yahoo Finance covered it:
Warren Buffett is something of a ladies man. As he introduced himself and Munger to the audience, he quipped about age and mortality, and he offered some relationship advice for folks who are marrying for money.
Sure, the Oracle of Omaha is an Obama man, but he's still bullish on America if there's a Donald Trump presidency. When asked at the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting if Trump might harm his company's interests if elected president, the CEO said, "this won't be the main problem," as thousands in attendance guffawed. Then he reflected on the way his business and many others have survived all manner of regulation, meddling and turmoil.
7 ways the Berkshire Hathaway meeting is like Hogwarts
No topic is off-limits at this event. Yes, even Harry Potter got a huge shout-out. In what was possibly the most viral moment of Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholder meeting, an investor stood up and compared the meeting to Hogwarts. While Warren Buffett admitted he hadn’t read any of the Harry Potter books, we’ve all known he’s our version of Dumbledore for some time. Here are some reasons that Berkshire is magical.
Warren Buffett couldn't care less about those who have struck it rich in the frenzy of IPO activity in recent years. Staying true to his oft-cited advice for the average investor seeking long-term growth, Buffett gave the verbal equivalent of an eye roll to anyone who tries to game the market.
Buffett is concerned not only about the really, really low interest rates in the U.S., but the negative rates abroad. What does that even mean? Buffett tells the world why this matters.
Derivatives might not keep Warren Buffett up late at night, but he is concerned about them. The problem, he says, is that no one knows how to value them properly. He's famous for calling derivatives "weapons of mass financial destruction," so here's what he had to say about them this year.
Unlike CEOs like Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos, who lead elusive personal lives, Buffett is not a man of mystery. In fact, he’s pretty much an open book about everything from his investing philosophy to his thoughts on Jesus Christ to his enviably gluttonous diet. He actually opened the meeting by cracking open a can of Cherry Coke. Take that, Atkins.
If anyone doubts the significance that Berkshire Hathaway and its CEO Warren Buffett hold in the American economy, consider this: A person could go through an entire day only utilizing products and eating foods made by companies that are wholly owned by Berkshire or in which Berkshire has an ownership stake. Read why.
Warren Buffett doesn’t have any regrets. “I’m 85, and I can’t imagine anybody any happier than I am,” the Berkshire Hathaway CEO told the crowd of more than 40,000 shareholders gathered in Omaha to pepper Buffett and his longtime partner Charlie Munger with questions about business, success, and life. “I’m sitting here eating exactly what I like to eat, doing in life exactly what I love to do with people I love. It really doesn't get any better than that.”
Trading foreign currencies isn’t for the feint of heart. Positions are highly leveraged and volatility can be staggering. This would seem to be at odds with Warren Buffett’s investment philosophy of keeping it simple and holding forever. That’s why it might seem strange that Warren Buffett just said he’s long the Euro.
In response to the very first question asked at the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting today in Omaha, Nebraska, Buffett mentioned a small California chocolate maker called See's Candies. Berkshire acquired See's in 1972 for $25 million. 44 years later, he is still consistently citing it as one of the smartest acquisitions he and his business partner Charlie Munger ever made.
On Thursday, we learned that US GDP growth slowed to a dismal 0.5% rate in Q1. This was down from the 1.4% rate in Q4. From the looks of it, economic growth appears to be grinding to a halt. While Buffett acknowledged the report, he offered some perspective while walking the floor of Omaha’s CenturyLink Center.
You know you want those Buffett and Munger playing cards. It'll cost you $10 a pack and your grandkids will thank you for it. Also up for sale:
• 24-karat commemorative Buffett coins cost a whopping $899 (they come with a certificate of authenticity).
• Call it a two-for-one! Heinz Ketchup & Kraft Mac and Cheese combos are $3.
• Rubber Ducky, you're the one! Special edition Buffett & Munger bath time toys retail for $5.