Welcome to the Qwest Center in Omaha. It's drizzling outside, but the lines of shareholders are still snaking around the building. We're setting up here in the press box and look forward to bringing you a play-by-play of the day's events.
Doors are open, mad rush for seats begins...
The Qwest Center is nearly full now. Everyone's waiting for the Annual Meeting Movie to start, followed by the Q&A Session. We'll have to wait and see how difficult the questions will be this year, given the big can of worms that the Sokol affair has opened up.
We're interested in hearing Buffett's plans for the growing hoard of cash he has on the balance sheet. Acquisitions at a reasonable price may prove to be difficult in this environment, so curious to see if he would consider instituting a dividend (or, at the very least, pay a one-time special dividend) and/or commit to share repurchases (given that he feels Berkshire's share are undervalued).
@Moorpark Mike Yes, the blog will be available tomorrow and going forward. Just bookmark this page and you'll be able to read the post history well after the event.
I think the Sokol affair got a lot of press this month because of the timing of the announcement (30 days before the Annual Meeting) and the way in which Berkshire handled the whole thing. I think the news flow from the whole affair will likely die down over the next couple fo months, but the issues that it brought up--CEO succession, internal controls, board oversight, et al--will linger long after Sokol is a distant memory.
I also agree that Sokol should have sold the shares before the Lubrizol deal was announded in order to avoid the appearance or impropriety, and that he should have donated any realized gains to charity so that he would not be enriched at the expense of Berkshire shareholders.
Who knows, perhaps we are better off that Sokol is NOT going to be the CEO.
I just wandered the floor to see many folks I've met over the years, and the crowd seems just as energetic as in previous years.
Got a few questions about what's happening at the meeting right now. The annual Berkshire movie will start at 8:30 Central followed by the Q&A. When the questions start rolling in, you'll start seeing our posts on the discussion.
@Billy Stafford No audio, video, or camera use is allowed during the meeting--but we'll try to get as close to a live stream as possible by blogging the questions as they roll in.
Here comes the Annual Meeting Movie. Video of the crews setting up the Qwest Center for what has come to be known by some as Buffettpalooza.
News clip from the 1990 shareholder meeting. 1500 people at the meeting and a $7000 stock back then.
BNSF music video by Lee Greenwood, like last year
Misc. shareholder interviews from last year at Borsheim's are being shown.
Interesting collection of shareholders across all age groups are highlighted. Several commercials for firms like Coke, Geico, Dairy Queen, et al, also flowing through the presentation.
Warren and Henry Paulson talking about the financial crisis and the important measures that the government took to keep the economy from going over a cliff.
Commercial for upcoming movie version of Andrew Ross Sorkin's book, "Too Big to Fail." Hope its not intended to sway Sorkin into going easy during the Q&A session.
Tony Nicely and Warren Buffett unveil rap video for Geico, with impages of Warren singing and dancing to the amusemt of everyone in the Qwest Center.
A look back at that Salomon saga. Warren testifying before Congress. Laying done the hammer on those who brought that Wall Street firm to the verge of collapse. A lot of talk about internal controls that were evidently missing during the whole Sokol affiar. Hoping this means that he will be taking the hard questions about Sokol during the Q&A session.
The Salomon video has been shown every year I've attended.
Warren Buffett doing a cameo for The Office as Michael's replacement. Definitely must see TV. We'll look for the link for the video and post it if/when we find it. Paul just told me, though, that a bit Warren did with Desperate Housewives a few years back has been difficult to find, so we may miss out.
The Office bit was my favorite. Now we're onto the "favorite things" music video showing all the Berkshire managers.
Buffett and Munger take the stage...
The Q&A has started. Expects to update on the business, the Sokol affair, then follow with Q&A. Warren expects comments on Sokol/Lubrizol to be transcribed to the Berkshire site quickly so that all shareholders can read.
First time I recall part of meeting/Q&A being officially shared outside of the meeting.
Warren introduces the board. Interesting fact: 6 out of 12 board members are 79 years of age or older.
Bufffett shares that all businesses outside of those related to residential housing are getting better.
1Q11 was second worst quarter ever for the insurance industry on a catastrophe basis. Events in Japan, Australia, and New Zealand could cost the reinsuers $50 billion.
Buffett expects insurance underwriting to create a loss this year for the first time in 9 years.
Berkshire's insurance earnings down more than $1 billion YOY during first quarter due to insurance underwriting loss. 2011 could be first year in long time Berkshire suffers insurance underwiting loss, but dependent on how bad hurricane season is this year. Third quarter is typically worst quarter for catastrophies.
Berkshire's share of Asian Pacific losses approximately $1.7B
Railroad, Utilities & Energy earnings nearly double YOY thanks to full quarter contribution from BNSF. Manufacturing, Service & Retailing continues to improve, as the economy gradually improves.