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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Berkshire Annual Shareholder Meeting Update

This post is an update on my visit to Omaha to attend Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholder meeting. Read more about Warren Buffet & Berkshire Hathaway. Click Here

Friday:

I travelled to Kansas City as the flights to Omaha was very costly during this weekend. From there it was around 3 hrs drive to Omaha. Reached Omaha around 6:30 PM. Omaha is a small and sleepy city, but during this time of the year, they attract world investment community's attention with over 30,000 decent to town from all over the world. Went straight to the Borsheim Jewellery for the Friday's cocktail party. Party was in the tent in front of the Borsheim's. . fully packed with live music, food, drinks...

Borsheim's Jewellery was open for shareholders and it was also packed, shareholders getting a chance to look/buy from one of the best collection of Jewellery (Borsheim is the one of the largest Jewellery stores in US) at special discount rate.

I met many shareholders from all over the world. Many of the shareholders I met were holding their Berkshire share for as long as 20 years. Back at the tent there were long lines for food and drinks.. I joined the queue. Headed back to my hotel room at around 10PM.

Saturday:

It was informed that the gate to the "Quest Convention Center" (largest convention center in Omaha) will open by 7:00 AM. I reached there by 6:45AM, while walking towards the convention center, I could see the very long queues leading to the different doors. I was pretty sure of one thing, i will be lucky to actually get a seat in the convention center, let alone hopes of getting a good seat. At 7:00 AM they opened the doors and there were a mad rush with people running like crazy. By the time I was able to get it and the huge auditorium was getting filled quickly. I walked towards the front and all the seats where occupied. Saw an empty seat in front very next to the ones reserved for manager. I asked around what time others came in and looks like the line started forming around 2:00AM!!! I was very luck to get that seat which is very close to the podium.

Bill Gates, Susan Decker (Yahoo) were in front enclosed row along with other Directors.

At 8:30AM Berkshire movie started which starred Warren Buffet, Charlie Munger and few others. It was quite funny. Also, some compilation of behind the scenes from annual meeting and last years meeting. At around 10:00 AM the movie ended.

10:30 AM Buffet and Charlie came to the stage. Table were packed with their favourite foods - See's Candy & Coke. Buffet went straight to business. There were 14 Microphone stands all over the stadium and outside room from where people could ask questions. Buffet started taking questions from all the locations one after another. It was a pleasant surprise that he didn't take up any time and went straight to it. People asked all kinds of questions, it was not limited to any one topic: Investments, Berkshire, Politics, Environment, Oil, Dollar, Education, Ethics, Business.. anything.. And pattern was Buffet will give a long and clear answer to it and ask Charlie who was sitting next to him if he wants to add anything. By seeing Charie, i expected a quite person who doesn't seems to be funny. I was wrong. After the long answer from Buffet, Charlie would add 1-2 line quotes and it was both funny and truth to the core. I can say that Charie received more applaud.

Last year there were protest from the Klamath River tribes outside of the Convention center. This year there were questions related to Klamath River issue. Buffet asked Mid American CEO David Sokol who answered those questions. I think this was the most important 'issue' in the meeting. After 3 questions, Buffet said this issue have already got more number of questions than normally allowed (1 question per issue/person is normal). Protesters displayed banners for few minutes during the meeting.

First session was from 10:30AM to 12:00AM then a break for lunch. Started again at 12:30PM and Q & A ended at 3:00PM. And 3:15PM to 3:30PM was the Formal Business Meeting where the Board of Directors were elected. It was over in few minutes.

Except the Klamath River questions, the mood was light. I could see that Buffet, Munger and the crowd were enjoying every moment of it. I know I enjoyed it !!

Next was Nebraska Furniture Mart Baja Bash at 5:30PM, it is a huge store covering over 72 acres. Buffet brought the store from Ms. B.

Sunday:

Shopping at Borsheirms started at around 9:00 AM, but I reached there around 12:00PM, Borsheirms was packed and had food at the Berkshire tent outside. Met couple of other shareholders, one person I spoke to brought his shares 20 years back and is still holding it. He brought it at around $3000, (current price is around $135,000) and he was very happy with the company and Buffet. I have added a picute with him in the album.

At around 2:PM I headed back to Kansas City from where I had to catch my flight back home.... wow!! what a weekend!!

I bought two books at 15% discount for shareholder.

1. The Essays of Warren Buffett : Lessons for Corporate America by Lawrence A. Cunningham which is the one book Buffet recommends.

2. Warren Buffett Speaks: Wit and Wisdom from the World's Greatest Investor by Janet Lowe. I read it, sections are arranged based on themes and it contains many of his quotes. Most of the it I had already read it from different articles and books. Good for casual reading.

Annual Meeting Photos: Click Here

CNBC Live Blog (minute by minute update with Q & A):

Morning Session: http://www.cnbc.com/id/24441379

Afternoon Session: http://www.cnbc.com/id/24443106

Q & A: http://valueinvestingresource.blogspot.com/2008/05/2008-berkshire-hathaway-shareholder.html

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

I envy you ....

Anonymous said...

hey there george ... nice website ...

Anonymous said...

hey how much does one share of BRK cost in indian rupees ???

Rgds
Raman

George Varghese said...

Hi Raman,

There are two classes of shares for Berkshire.

1. Class A (with all rights) - Today's price: $125,000 / Rs.51,25,000 (at $1=Rs.41)

2. Class B - Today's price: $4,166 / Rs.1,70,806 (at $1 = Rs.41)

Share was never split or undergo any other form of adjustments since the begining.

Regards,
George.

George Varghese said...

Thank you for your comments.

George Varghese said...

I dont think there is anything to envy.. anyone who buys a share could attend the meeting..

Anonymous said...

So even if i have one share, i will be eligible to attend BRK AGM ??? Man !! i'll have to put in all my life's savings just to buy one BRK B share

Rgds
Raman

George Varghese said...

Yes, you can attend even if you have one share.

No worries you have options.

I heard that the passes were available for sale in eBay prior to meeting.

Actually it is not a must to attend the meeting. Important thing is to study the principles to see if it makes sense. In that aspect, he has been very good, his books, articles, sites, videos are all available all over internet/book store. One of the best resouce is the annual shareholders letters posted in Berkshire site. I have the link on my site. And pretty much the complete Q & A is also available online.

Good Luck!!
George.