Woodstock for Capitalists: Warren Buffet’s company shareholders meeting will draw 40,000 people tomorrow in Omaha

The line of investors who attended the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting last year, the first face-to-face meeting since the pandemic (Reuters) (SCOTT MORGAN /)

Tens of thousands of people will descend on Omaha, Nebraska, this weekend for the extravaganza that Warren Buffettthe legendary investor, calls “Woodstock for capitalists”. The number of attendees is expected to increase significantly compared to last year, which was the first face-to-face edition of the festival after the pandemic.

Berkshire Hathawaythe Buffet investment fund and charlie mungercelebrates tomorrow its 59th annual meetingas investors flock to hear from the investment legend, at a time of turmoil for the banking industry and trouble looming for the US economy.

The usually festive meeting will have reason to celebrate tomorrow. According to estimates from the Visible Alpha firm, Berkshire’s total revenue for the first quarter will be around USD 83.8 billion, 22% more than a year ago. Net revenue is also expected to have increased to $8.32 billion, up 52% ​​from the previous quarter. Berkshire’s return on equity is expected to be 6.8%, compared with 4.57% in the same period last year.

A market classic

Over the years, this annual event has helped Warren Buffett earn the title of “oracle of omaha” because the investment community closely follows his investment choices and market commentary, and he lives and works in Omaha, Nebraska.

Warren Buffett is the fifth richest person in the worldwith a net worth of $113 billion as of May 4, 2023, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

The Berkshire’s first shareholders meeting was held in 1973 in the employee cafeteria of the National Indemnity Company, one of the subsidiaries of Berkshire Hathaway. Only a little over twenty people attended the first Omaha meeting.

Hours of questions from shareholders are answered by Buffet, with comments on current economic events, the market situation and even life lessons for investors (Reuters)
Hours of questions from shareholders are answered by Buffet, with comments on current economic events, the market situation and even life lessons for investors (Reuters) (SCOTT MORGAN /)

In 1981, the meeting moved to the Red Lion Hotel in Omaha. As Berkshire grew, and with it its shareholder base, the meeting moved to larger and larger venues. In 1998, there were 10,000 attendees. In 2018, more than 40,000 people flocked to Omaha for the weekend of the meeting

Berkshire Hathaway has been able to build excitement for the lavish annual meetings. The all-day event sometimes features comedy skits, music and even dancers hired by the various companies in the Berkshire Hathaway portfolio. Bill Gates has previously participated in these meetings. Live coverage over the Internet –can be seen live through the CNBC website– of the event provides real-time updates for those unable to attend.

To be able to attend, it is enough to buy a single share. Anyone who owns a single share of Berkshire Hathaway is considered a shareholder and may attend the meeting. You can own Class A shares, which were trading today at $488,606.06 per unit, or more affordable Class B shares, which were last trading at $323.22.

However, being a Berkshire Hathaway shareholder is not technically a requirement to attend the event. It is enough to have a pass for the meeting. Non-Berkshire shareholders can purchase a pass from a shareholder, some of whom do a good deal on the ticket resale.

Buffet is 92 years old and the other star of the celebration, Munger, is 98 years old. With each passing year, attendees take the opportunity to hear his speeches on the state of the economy and the market, as well as brainy investment recommendations, with the feeling that it may be one of the last.

The 2019 meeting was held in a full stadium, before the pandemic (Reuters)
The 2019 meeting was held in a full stadium, before the pandemic (Reuters) (Scott Morgan /)

Berkshire has already defined its succession plan -with the vice president greg abel scheduled to succeed Buffett as CEO – since at least 2006, when the firm’s alma matterer, 75, told shareholders his board would “show me the door” if its “decline” required it.

Banks in sight

Tomorrow Buffett and Munger will answer questions from shareholders for five hours. Abel and the Vice President Ajit Jain They will join in the morning.

Although inflation and the Federal Reserve’s rate hikes were central topics for the two stars of the day last year, there may be a lot of interest surrounding investor views on the recent regional banking turmoil.

Veteran investors are not likely to mince words when valuing the recent banking crisis.

“Sometimes banks fail because they make too many dumb loans, and sometimes because they mismatch maturities,” Buffett said at the time. However, he added that this was not a repeat of the 2008 crisis, as the quality of the loans was not bad, rather the problem was the mismatch between assets and liabilities.

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