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Berkshire Annual Meeting 2017 - Live Stream Discussion


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Just some random impressions/ highlights from my trip this far:

 

- I came to OMA from ATL.  The flight attendant there was shocked at how many people "just happened" to want to go to Omaha for Cinco de Mayo weekend.

 

- A lady I met on the plane had just moved to Omaha and had never heard of Berkshire/ was also astonished at how packed the plane was (I did get kicked out of my seat by a mom and her screaming kids, but they gave me a $100 voucher so I didn't raise hell like that United passenger).  I was nice and gave her an extra ticket.

 

- My Uber driver from the hotel had a son who used to work in Ajit's division but wanted to manage money.  Buffett refused, so he went and started his own PE fund which is based here in Omaha.

 

- I took a stroll by Borsheim's.  I asked whether Munger would be signing purchase slips this year but apparently Buffett does it himself now.  The kicker - Sunday only, and your purchase must be 100K or more.  The "Buffett signature" pearls didn't look quite THAT attractive to me.

 

- I swung by Kiewit Plaza.  Talk about a nondescript part of town in the middle of a dust bowl.  I thought I might catch anthrax from a rotting cow or get steamrolled by a tumbleweed walking down Farnam Street.

 

- I went to Whitney Tilson and Chuck Gillman's party at the Hilton for the first time this year.  A credit to both of these guys for creating a community here that would otherwise exist only in the clouds.  My one suggestion - do we really need so many Snicker's bars?

 

- I overslept this morning in usual and arrived 15 min before the meeting after getting locked out of my Quality Inn hotel room twice.  At least this year I got a seat (all the way at the back) vs sitting on the stairs last year.  Finally moving up in the world!

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Anyone having problems accessing the Livestream?

 

Works on IE11.

Was not working for me on Opera.

 

Ha, that's interesting!  I just also found that out.  Works on IE 11, but not Chrome.  GAAATTTTEESS!

 

Thanks!

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For those of you who have read the past annual letters, growth in average claims in the auto industry is a better long-term proxy for inflation than CPI.  The advantage to GEICO's new policyholders (IMO) speaks to the growth in claims per policyholder.  While there are many possible reasons for this, I have argued (and will continue to argue) that 5T+ in monetization is going to have an effect sometime.  And like as not the auto industry will be a good proxy, as it was in the 70s and 80s.

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Anyone having problems accessing the Livestream?

 

Works on IE11.

Was not working for me on Opera.

 

Ha, that's interesting!  I just also found that out.  Works on IE 11, but not Chrome.  GAAATTTTEESS!

 

Thanks!

 

Yeah, I was thinking that Opera and Chrome might have similar issues, since Opera is based on Chromium (Chrome open source codebase). There are differences between the two, so I was not confident enough to say that Chrome might have same behavior.

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Does anyone have an opinion on Buffett's support for the current directors?  Although the practices seems to have started at the lower levels, the complacency seems to have involved management.  The questions director awareness.  I'm not a Wells shareholder but my personal view is introducing fresh directors would be a benefit.  It's not really Berkshire's problem directly but I would appreciate less waffling on this.

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In the driverless car question - it's nice (or maybe not so nice) to think about a driverless and accidentless world where auto insurers aren't needed.  But GEICO's premium volume relative to the reinsurance business is no longer as significant - and disasters there are not going away.

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Does anyone have an opinion on Buffett's support for the current directors?  Although the practices seems to have started at the lower levels, the complacency seems to have involved management.  The questions director awareness.  I'm not a Wells shareholder but my personal view is introducing fresh directors would be a benefit.  It's not really Berkshire's problem directly but I would appreciate less waffling on this.

 

IMO directors do very little in these kinds of situations. Canning current WFC directors might send a message that directors should look at it more. Not sure it would make much difference. IMO the management and company culture matters more. I don't really know if Buffett's belief in WFC is wellsubstantiated  ;). We'll have to see how it goes from here.

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Yes!  I've been saying it for at least 2 years and people just look at me.  Where the hell was Berkshire (after being active in the media space in the 70s-90s) when Google was selling at 15x earnings?  And why would Buffett buy IBM which was clearly getting commoditized into services?  One only needed to look at the working capital trends over the past 10 years for these 2 businesses (or Apple for that matter) to see that Google is the printing press and the other 2 (speaking long term) are doomed to the commodization that always breaks down a hardware moat.  I own some Google and I will be holding it 10 years from now unless something crazy happens.  I think it's a much higher-margin and more durable business than Amazon or Walmart -the kind of business I dream about.

 

I think if Warren were starting out now he would be tech-heavy.  I've tried my best to emulate what he looked for in the 70s and I magically find myself over 50% tech.  I'm not happy about that, but it's where one finds high-margin businesses that can grow like weeds through up and down cycles.

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With IBM and airlines it looks like BRK is moving out of the moat-hold-forever investments into buy-somewhat-crappy-business-somewhat-cheap-sell-it-hopefully-a-bit-higher...  ::)

 

sounds like plays on cannibals

 

Yeah, that's a good observation Gamecock-YT

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