This year I fulfilled myself a long dream: I joined the pilgrimage to Omaha in order to listen to these 2 elderly Gentlemen
Ähhhh sorry,that was the wrong picture, I actually listened to those 2 Gentlemen
So instead of doing this once again (and by the way a I did not take notes….), I will just make a few random observations:
1. I didn’t expect any “actionable investment ideas” and there were none
2. As a “first timer”, I found the event genuinely entertaining. They make a very good show. The movie was great and the 2 guys are really funny.
3. The questions from the audience were a lot better than in any other shareholder meeting I have been
4. Doug Kass as the evil short seller was relatively tame. He mostly asked about the obvious succession issue
5. In general, the meeting was a lot about succession, Buffet said many times “when I will be gone”
6. Buffet thinks there is no need to split the company. Berkshire’s “culture” will prevail.
7. However he indicated that Berkshire would be prepared to buy a lot of stock back at the right price
8. Sometimes the answers were a bit shallow. For instance when someone asked why Iscar is better than Sandvik (i.e. which moat), the answer was “better management” or when asked about the moat of IBM he talked about a pension problem. Buffet surely knows better but I guess he is not sharing everything with his shareholders.
9. The exhibition of the Berkshire companies looked liked a flea market to me. Maybe its my European taste but i found that they sold quite crappy products.
10. Buffet was slightly subdued about growth in America for the next few years (“New Normal” anyone ?)
11. Some Omaha restaurants behave like cafes at the St. Marcus place in Venice, Italy. One night we went to the “Chophouse“. “Unfortunately” the cheapest wine at 60 USD/bottle (!!!!) was not available any more, the second cheapest was already 100 USD …..additionally they tried to talk us into ordering magnum bottles at 295 USD … DON’T GO THERE.
The two Buffet quotes I wrote down were those:
Interest rates are to asset prices what gravity is to the apple. With such low interest rates there is not a lot of gravity for asset prices.
For many companies book value has almost no correlation to intrinsic value
Would I go there again ? I have to admit that for the shareholders meeting alone I am not sure. The whole trip is quite expensive and time consuming. However I had the privilege to attend a 2 day (invitation only) value investing conference just before Saturday in Omaha which was absolutely fantastic !!!
I met a lot of very nice people who to a large extent were very good or even outstanding value investors. Many ideas were shared and interesting discussions were made.
The whole package (conference + shareholder meeting) is definitely worth the trip.
What were my take aways ?
The “hard” take aways were:
and of course these:
And I might have some posts about some ideas which have been discussed soon……