Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc will hold its annual meeting on May 1 in Los Angeles. As in 2020, the meeting will be held virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Vice Chairman Charlie Munger, a Californian who missed the 2020 meeting, held in Omaha, Nebraska, will rejoin Buffett on stage to answer 3-1/2 hours of shareholder questions.
Here are some facts about Buffett and Berkshire.
FACTS ABOUT WARREN EDWARD BUFFETT
Born: Aug. 30, 1930
Education: University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Columbia Business School
Family: Buffett has been married to Astrid Menks since August 30, 2006. His first wife Susan Thompson Buffett died in 2004. They had three children: Susan, Howard and Peter.
Net worth: $103.3 billion on April 28, 2021, ranking sixth worldwide. Amazon.com Inc Chief Executive Jeff Bezos ranked first. (Source: Forbes)
Berkshire ownership stake: 16.2% as of March 3, 2021
Berkshire voting power: 32.1% as of March 3, 2021
How Buffett took charge: In 1965, Buffett was a shareholder in Berkshire, then a struggling New England textile company. He planned to sell back his shares for $11.50 each, but the term sheet showed $11.375. An angered Buffett responded by buying all the shares he could, and won control of Berkshire on May 10, 1965. The textile business closed in 1985.
Famous Buffett quotation: “Lose money for the firm, and I will be understanding. Lose a shred of reputation for the firm, and I will be ruthless.” – Sept. 4, 1991 congressional testimony about Salomon Inc, where Buffett became interim chairman to restore order after a Treasury auction bidding scandal.
Philanthropy: Buffett has since 2006 donated more than $37.4 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and four family charities. His Berkshire stock will go to philanthropy after he dies.
Home: Buffett has lived since 1958 in the same house on a well-trafficked Omaha street, and does much of his work there. The five-bedroom, 2-1/2-bath home on 0.72 acres was assessed at $935,300 in 2021, down 12% from 2020. (Source: Douglas County, Nebraska)
Diet: Likes steaks, and eats candies from See’s, which Berkshire owns. Estimates that one-fourth of his caloric intake comes from Coca-Cola, a longtime Berkshire investment.
Buffett on the pandemic: “Nothing can basically stop America. We faced great problems in the past. We haven’t faced this exact problem. In fact, we haven’t really faced anything that quite resembles this problem, but we faced tougher problems, and the American miracle, the American magic has always prevailed, and it will do so again.” (2020 annual meeting)
FACTS ABOUT BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY
Leadership: Warren Buffett, chairman and chief executive officer; Charlie Munger, Gregory Abel and Ajit Jain, vice chairmen; Todd Combs and Ted Weschler, investment managers
2020 net income: $42.52 billion, including $31.72 billion of investment gains and a $9.8 billion pandemic-related writedown for the Precision Castparts unit
2020 operating income: $21.92 billion, down 9% from 2019
2020 revenue: $245.51 billion, down 4% from 2019
2020 share repurchases: $24.7 billion (5% of shares)
Cash, equivalents and Treasury bills: $138.3 billion as of Dec. 31, 2020
Stock price: $410,988 per Class A share as of April 28, 2021. Class B shares are worth about 1/1,500th as much.
Market value: about $627 billion as of April 28, 2021, based on reported shares outstanding.
Compounded annual gains from 1965-2020: stock price: 20.0%; S&P 500 including dividends: 10.2% (pre-tax)
Overall gain from 1965-2020: stock price: 2,810,526%; S&P 500 including dividends: 23,454% (pre-tax)
Float (insurance premiums collected before claims are paid, which help fund investments): $138 billion as of Dec. 31, 2020
Selected businesses: Benjamin Moore, Berkshire Hathaway Automotive, Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance, BNSF, Borsheims Fine Jewelry, Brooks, Business Wire, Clayton Homes, Duracell, Fruit of the Loom, Geico, General Re, HomeServices of America, IMC International Metalworking, International Dairy Queen, Johns Manville, Lubrizol, Marmon, McLane, National Indemnity, Nebraska Furniture Mart, NetJets, Oriental Trading, Pampered Chef, Precision Castparts, See’s Candies
Selected acquisitions (larger amounts rounded to nearest billion): See’s Candies, $25 million (1972); Geico, $2.3 billion (1996); Dairy Queen, $590 million (1998); General Re, $16 billion (1998); NetJets, $725 million (1998); Clayton Homes, $1.7 billion (2003); PacifiCorp, $5 billion (2006); Marmon, $4.5 billion (2008); Burlington Northern Santa Fe, $27 billion (2010); Lubrizol, $9 billion (2011); NV Energy, $6 billion (2013); H.J. Heinz, $12 billion (majority stake, 2013); Van Tuyl, $4.1 billion (2015); Precision Castparts, $32 billion (2016), Pilot Flying J, $2.8 billion (38.6% stake, 2017). (Sources: Barclays Capital, Berkshire)
Buffett’s ranking of Berkshire’s four most valuable assets: (1) insurance operations; (2-3) BNSF railroad and 5.4% stake in Apple (“it’s pretty much a toss-up”); (4) 91% stake in Berkshire Hathaway Energy. (Shareholder letter, Feb. 27, 2021)
Buffett on stock buybacks: Repurchases should “enhance the intrinsic value per share for continuing shareholders and would leave Berkshire with more than ample funds for any opportunities or problems it might encounter.” (Shareholder letter, Feb. 27, 2021)
Employees: 360,174, down from 391,539 a year earlier
Employees in main office: 26, including Buffett
Succession: Buffett, 90, and Munger, 97, have not publicly signaled any plans to retire. Berkshire’s board plans to quickly install a new CEO when Buffett retires, cannot continue or dies.
Possible CEO successors: Abel, 58, and Jain, 69, have since January 2018 had day-to-day oversight of Berkshire’s non-insurance and insurance units, respectively. Buffett and Munger handle major capital allocation decisions and investments.
Other possible successors: Combs and Weschler may succeed Buffett as chief investment officer. Combs is also Geico’s chief executive but likely not for the long term. Buffett’s eldest son, Howard, is expected to become Berkshire’s non-executive chairman.
Annual meeting attendance: 12 (1965), about 24 (1979), 1,000 (1986), 4,100 (1995), 13,000 (2000), 21,000 (2005), 42,000 (2015, Buffett’s 50th anniversary). (Sources: Omaha World-Herald, Berkshire, Reuters)
Global live streams of 2020 annual meeting on Yahoo Finance network: 2.5 million.
(Source: Yahoo Finance)
Buffett on resuming in-person annual meetings: “I hope and expect that will be in 2022. The citizens of Omaha, our exhibiting subsidiaries and all of us at the home office can’t wait to get you back for an honest-to-God annual meeting, Berkshire-style.” (Shareholder letter, Feb. 27, 2021)