Being a first time attendee, this was a most epic journey.Waiting outside at 5:30 am. Saturday morning, in the rain, when doors open at 7:00 could be called crazy, is this some sort of revival concert? That’s a big negative. Thousands of us, all eager to grab good floor seats from which we will proceed to sit for the better part of nine hours listening to the wit and wisdom of one Warren Buffett (76) and Charles Munger (83). Opening the day was about a 40-minute video, in detail here, which stared a competition between Lebron James and Warren, brought on by a disagreement over ones favorite drink, Lebron for PowerAde and Warren for Cherry Coke. Warren states: “Lets settle in in the courts.” Lebron: “In Court?” with a worried look on his face. Warren: “The basketball court.” Warren wins at horse, Lebron at 1-on-1, which leads to an all or nothing, make or brake final hook shot from the half court sideline, which Warren swooshes after a Lebron miss, break to ESPN where Stuart Scott proclaims this is the largest upset in the history of sports. Proceeded by a plug for the Buffet vs. Ariel Hsing (11-year old U.S. table tennis champion) “Rumble in the Mall” taking place the next day outside of subsidiary Borsheims.
After the video an announcement proclaims, please welcome the brilliantly gifted, intelligent, honest, (insert 10 more positive adjectives) and handsome Mr. Buffett. Which is then preceded by an entrance by none other then… Jimmy Buffett. Jimmy states, “Who were you expecting? … I’ve never performed this early in the morning and your not paying so bear with me.” Jimmy delivered a remake written that morning he proclaimed, overtop Margaritaville with the hook as “Wastin’ away again in Berkshire-Hathaway-ville.”
Then strolls in the Buffett everyone has been waiting on, accompanied by Mr.Munger. Without getting into a lot of detail about the Q&A, which you can read here, lets just say these two men are on the ball. People of all ages, from all over, asking just about anything for a total of 6 hours, with only a short 40 minute break for lunch. Usually Warren proceeds to answer and then says “Charlie?” Who may just remain silent, slide in a “nothing further to add” or have an utmost wise remark. When Charlie speaks, no words are wasted. In response to someone’s question on ethanol, Charlie remarked something along the lines of, “Utilizing food for fuel, has got to be one of the dumbest ideas I’ve ever heard.” Followed by Warren “Were now going to be sleeping outside the state of Nebraska tonight.” (Being that NE is a big endorser of Corn based ethanol.) One of the most graphic remarks by Charlie followed a general thought on opportunity cost and went something along the lines of “It would be like someone offering you a mail order Bride with AIDS.” Did he really just say that? Hey, he’s 83.
Check out an interview with Buffett in the exhibition hall here. The exhibition hall consisted of booths populated by Berkshire subsidiaries. The booth’s displays ranged from RV’s to Bulls. All were offering information on exactly what they do and most gave shareholders an opportunity to purchase.
The closing of the meeting was mainly a 45 minutes discussion about Berkshire’s holdings of PetroChina and the genocide currently taking place in Darfur, Sudan. You can read about Berkshire’s position on the matter here. The outcome was an overwhelming majority of shareholders voting against the resolution detailed here.
After the meeting it was off to subsidiary Nebraska Furniture Mart for some Mexican fanfare, live band under the tent, and oh yeah…shareholder discounts. Nebraska Furniture Mart is situated on a massive 77-acre spread comprised of the a store which sells over 50,000 items, – guaranteed in stock, at guaranteed lowest prices – a massive customer pick-up drive through attached to a warehouse and a flooring warehouse.
The following day was shopping day at Borsheims and Buffet Vs. Hsing. Bill Gates appeared before Warren Buffett and had a few volleys with someone unnamed. Then Ariel Hsing entered the ring and then came Warren who proceeded to do a few pushups. The match seemed rather short and not possessing a great view the outcome of the match remains uncertain, if anyone has details please add in the comments, thanks. Afterwards Bodyguards escorted Gates and Buffett to a Bridge table with Bob Hamman (world champion Bridge player). They played for a bit and then Buffett disappeared and Gates remained for another 20 minutes before departing.
820 words cannot truly express the mystique that encompasses the Berkshire weekend. It’s a one of a kind event that will always hold a special place in ones heart, and mind.