Why did 35,000 pack the seats for the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting last Saturday? What can Warren Buffett or Charlie Munger possibly say that keeps so many interested?
As it turns out….they say lots.
In my last post, I mentioned Buffet gave attention to a succession plan. Who wouldn’t? Buffett is in his late 70s and Munger in his 80s–and they both appear in good health. Still, if something should happen to one of them, no doubt the berkshire stock price would suffer. Warren was adamant that it would be useless to have any potential successor shadow him or Charlie–since they mostly stay in their offices and read–and look at spreadsheets, I’m sure.
So, how does one prepare to succeed Buffett? Actually, the job will be split in two–one successor will come from within Berkshire. Warren said several candidates are now running the business units, and gaining their experience that way. The other will come from outside–the new CFO–and probably has been identified.
But, will that take care of shareholder fears that Berkshire stock may rocket downward if Munger or Buffett steps down or dies? Perhaps not. One thing that’s apparent at the annual meeting…many of the 35,000 hang on even the smallest glib comments made–as evidenced by the applause elicited after Minger’s quips.
Can the wisdom of Buffett and Munger be duplicated quickly enough that Berkshire doesn’t miss a beat? Eventually. Berkshire is a fundamentally sound company, well run by ethical business unit managers.