波克夏股東會紀錄 2007

Woodstock for Capitalists 2008 Blog
M*_Justin 05-07-2008, 5:18 PM | Post #2512990 | 8 Replies
星期六,五月三日,2008

3:05 PM. 具有洞見的一天
我希望你們和我一樣享受今天的對話,並且要鼓勵你們有任何額外的問題或是洞見的話要跟我連繫。

3:00 PM 對波克夏的希望
一位股東要求巴菲特先生說他對波克夏的期望是現存企業文化持續強勢,而且可以繼續保持基業長青家族企業的薈萃之地,他還希望波克夏可以繼續有現在聚集所有優良企業的榮景。我會注意,企業的文化是任何公司最有價值的部分之一,但也是最難量化的部分。以波克夏的例子來說,巴菲特先生把磨利公司文化看成是他的首要目標,而從我的觀點來看,這樣的文化會給他的接班人未來繼續長久穩固基業形成優勢。

2:55 PM 製藥類股
巴菲特先生說他認為製藥類股整體會表現不錯,但由於對這些公司製藥流程內容的估價相當困難,他認為投資人直接買一籃子製藥類股最能夠受益,我會註記波克夏的投資組合中有嬌生、賽諾菲艾凡提斯,還有葛蘭素史克的持股。

2:50 PM 妒忌與貪婪
巴菲特先生說妒忌是最糟糕的罪惡,因為你一旦妒忌就會感覺很差,但是同時那個被妒忌的人還是過得一樣好 – 或甚至更好。他口是心非地說,貪婪會有相反的效果。

2:35 PM 波克夏的股利?
一位股東詢問巴菲特有關波克夏發放股利的可能性,他回答說只要他能持續用公司保留盈餘的每一塊錢創造超過一塊錢的價值,波克夏都不會發放股利。以現在巴菲特先生最近砸下大量資本在長毛象集團、瑪氏/雷格利集團、其他股票投資,以及離現在更近的固定收益投資的情況來看,我認為波克夏仍然保留所有盈餘以創造價值的可能性很高。


2:30 PM 信用違約交換市場
一位股東向巴菲特先生問道信用違約交換市場泡沫化的可能性,而巴菲特先生說他認為這些金融工具崩盤的可能性不高。他認為這種悲劇的可能性已經因為聯準會介入貝爾斯登的動作而戲劇化驟減,我認為這隱含他認為這個出手相救為金融市場立下了一個良好先例。他又表示在交換市場一頭的獲利會被另一頭的虧損吃掉,形成一種比較像是金錢的流動,而不是系統性風險。為了具體表示他的論點,巴菲特先生也提到了另一家我曾經觀察過的保險公司,FairfaxFinancial,一家曾經因為信用違約風險再訂價而嚐過甜頭的公司。我會多方註記這件事,Fairfax有向波克夏概略展示其獲利結構。

2:25 PM 孟格闡述金融創新
孟格說如果當年上面當家的頒布禁令不准有這個名詞存在,這禁令本身會是一個能分散風險的金融創新,現在金融市場也會好很多。

2:20 PM 孟格提到葛林斯潘
亞倫葛林斯潘受到Ayn Rand(他的思想導師)的思想影響有點過火了

2:15 PM 公平價值會計
巴菲特先生說他認為公平價值會計的使用可以避免讓管理團隊從事風險過高的借貸行為,他繼續提到,一些神秘難測的股票難以了解到他不知道從哪裡開始去估計股票價值。

2:10 PM 信用風險

巴菲特先生說在他的職業生涯中,他不記得任何一段時期有過住宅不動產風暴可以把震波穿透整個金融市場的。他繼續說道他並沒有認為這麼多這些孱弱的借貸行為會在近期的未來中再次發生。孟格說就連Web-van,那在他口語中意思有頑固的意味,都比過去幾年在房貸市場發生的事情要來得靈巧多了。

1:57 PM 孟格的閱讀書目
孟格先生建議除了他自己的新書Yes!之外,去看Ciadini的Influence這本書。

1:55 PM 你最重要的投資
巴菲特說你可以做到的最好投資就是在自己身上,因為一個人的潛力常常會超過現在已經實現的成就,他繼續談到有問過高中生如果一生只能買一部車,他們會怎麼對待這件事?然後他把這件事拿來跟照顧自己的身心靈做相似比較,巴菲特先生說有些人活得很有效率的原因,是因為其他人想要圍繞在他們身邊或是為他們做事。

1:40 PM 煤礦的展望
巴菲特先生說短時間內全球對煤礦的需求會增長,但是長期來看,尋找替代能源的重要性會變得刻不容緩,還提到波克夏旗下的Mid-AmericanUtility所從事的業務中,他們有各種替代能源,其中有一直在投資的風力發電。孟格先生說從資源配置的觀點來看,他寧願全球先將煤礦耗竭之後,再談到使用碳水化合物。

1:25 PM 模型的使用
巴菲特先生指出在投資的專業領域中,你要的是可以信賴的人,而且有不錯的分析技巧,但是更重要的是一個對從未發生過,電腦也模擬不出來的風險具有想像力的人。他說他用這個方法找出新的投資長人選,這在他2006年的年報中有提到過。他也提到這個想法在過去幾個月信用市場的災情之後更顯得有點未卜先知,這場災難之中大多數大型金融機構的量化模型都未能正確抓出最後那一把火發生的可能性。我認為這樣講很有洞見,因為一直要記住一件事,就是模型只是分析過程中的工具,並不是最後的結果。

1:15 PM 瑪氏/雷格利交易
巴菲特強調上個禮拜有人接觸他,要他為瑪氏企業收購雷格利出手灑些銀彈。他特別談到瑪氏企業只希望和他談這樁交易,因為他們知道現金一定會完全備好,而且他們對波克夏不用在公司內部透過層層管理團隊的官僚過程就可以讓交易完成感到感激。我曾經想過波克夏因為擁有這些元素,而可以在眾多私募基金公司強敵環伺之下仍然在收購案源的供應上有其優勢,我更認為這些競爭優勢會讓波克夏的接班人正式接任時,在大樹下好乘涼。

1:00 PM 我們回來了
會議再度進行,而巴菲特先生問被到有關金融機構複雜性的問題,以及他們是否變得難以管理。用一句話來形容,巴菲特說是的,雖然如此,大多數機構大多時候都可以正常運作。至於波克夏,巴菲特說他覺得自己是公司的風險長。這樣講讓我認為他大概有考慮到大多數人沒想到的風險層面,而讓我感到安心。

12:00 PM 午餐
議程到了午餐休息時間,我們四十五分鐘之後再回來。

11:55 AM 孟格談到乙醇
孟格說把美國的玉米變成汽車燃料的政策是一個不可思議的笨主意。

11:50 AM 巴菲特談到石油
巴菲特先生說他覺得石油產量剩餘比他記憶中任何一個時候都還要小,他繼續提到當石油達到生產頂峰時,供給便會逐步減少,雖然他並不知道我們甚麼時候會到那個頂點。他說短期內並沒有讓全球戒掉石油癮的方法,但是終究人類行為會調整,或是替代能源會發展起來。巴菲特說他很難想像以現在的光景而言,需求會下滑。孟格把太陽能當做是替代能源的來源,而且還說除了太陽之外並沒有其他真正的替代能源。

11:40 AM 孟格提到分散投資標的
整個投資的秘密就是如何去找到一個安全而聰明的不用分散投資的方式

11:30 AM 接班養成計畫
一位股東要巴菲特向大家報告一下他最新的接班養成計畫,他再次重申之前提到過的想法,並說他有三位可能接任執行長的人選,而現在有四位接任投資大任的潛在人選,而最後那一位會雀屏中選則是波克夏董事會的抉擇。他也說到新接任的執行長會對投資主管的人事案有些意見表示的空間。我長期以來懷疑執行長的角色接下來會由Ajit Jain或David Sokol來擔綱,但是巴菲特對於人選的名字都是隻字未提。

11:15 AM 巴菲特談到美元
一位股東問巴菲特他對美元的看法,他說他認為美國會持續航行在美元相對弱勢的政策航道上,他更說到他並未對波克夏的美元部位做避險,但是非常樂意擁有賺外國錢能力的公司或其公開發行證券。這和他去年的態度並無二致:與其擁抱不同的貨幣部位,不如直接擁有可賺外國錢的公司。然而這只是他考量可能投資案的關鍵因素之一。

11:05 AM 孟格提到做投資
我們都買那種快被自己現金淹沒的公司。

11:00 AM 市政債券保險
巴菲特先生指出在08年第一季,波克夏新的市政債券保險公司,名為波克夏海瑟威保險,做了超過四億美元的大業績,大部分在次級市場承做¬¬–意思是波克夏對那些已經被其他保險公司承保的市政債券再賣一次保險。結果是波克夏二次隔離這些合約,如此不僅市政會違約,這是歷史上很小發生可能性的,連很早就存在的債券承保公司都無法付出那樣的理賠。以這些相對安全的債券所受到的雙重保護,這些交易對我來說看起來像是波克夏手到擒來的錢。

10:50 AM 孟格先生談到發掘市場錯亂
如果你無法快速思考並果決執行,那對你沒有好處。

10:45 AM 配對交易
一位股東問巴菲特先生他是否曾經在六零年代他的合夥時期做過配對交易(一支股票做多,另一支相似股票做空)。巴菲特表示他在六零年代做過很接近的事情,但是他靠做多而賺到的獲利比配對交易來得多。孟格先生附加說:我們的錢是從大量做多一些很棒的公司而賺來的。

10:40 AM 巴菲特談溝通
用口語和寫字來溝通的能力同時具備巨大的重要性,也常常被教育忽略掉

10:30 AM 職涯諮詢
一位股東問巴菲特先生他會不會重頭再幹一次,如果會的話他會做甚麼,以及為什麼。巴菲特說是的當然,而且他愛他現在做的事和他妻子。對所有在場其他人,他說:一生過得像行屍走肉是很可怕的錯誤。然後他說去做你有熱情,而且可以讓你很興奮地早上從床上爬起來的那種事情,是很重要的,這就是當年他和恩師班葛拉漢在紐約共事的時候的感觸。

10:15 AM 普通股及波克夏的報酬
一位股東問巴菲特先生有關他對波克夏未來股票及整體報酬的展望,巴菲特先生說他認為波克夏歷年來股票可以賺10%是幸運的事,他也提到說他認為波克夏未來的報酬會比以往要低。這樣的期望結果來自於波克夏的龐大規模,以及他們需要大象級的企業讓企業評價的指針移動。他又提到他認為和其他公司比較,波克夏的結構表現相對是好的,但是未來波克夏賺錢的速度會幾乎確定比過去要慢。他也說過,用比較少的資金,有些投資人可以比波克夏達到更好的績效,因為較小的資產規模可以開創比現在波克夏可擁有的還要更多的機會。他繼續聊到要去補那些被錯估的股票的洞,必須花很多時間及功夫。所有這些觀點都和他所有之前的會議所持有的態度一致,也和他尋找未來的投資主管所持觀點一致。

10:00 AM 來自孟格的憐憫建議
這是他一句摘錄評論:如果你離左邊和離右邊都很遠,你會送出很多慈善禮物的。

9:55 AM 選擇權的使用

一位股東問巴菲特先生有關他股票部位中,個人選擇權的運用情形,他說他並沒有在他股票部位使用選擇權,而且如果一個投資者喜歡一家公司然後想買它的股票,他應該就買那支個股而不要花心思在選擇權上面。巴菲特然後提到說使用選擇權最主要的困難之處在於時間這個非常難測的因素在裡面。他繼續說在商學院裡面,學生只需要修兩門可以幫助他們成為更好的投資人的課程,一門是如何評價公司,另一門則是如何思考市場波動。關鍵的洞見在於投資是落實在對公司運作的基本了解,以及讓一個人有不從眾的穩定情緒心理特質。

9:45 AM 投資建議
一位投資人問道如何讓自己的心智不會從眾,巴菲特說要閱讀再閱讀班葛拉漢的TheIntelligentInvestor一書,他特別強調第八和第二十章是最切中核心的,但是書裡面揭示的課程和今天市場的關連,和當年他十九歲就第一次閱讀葛拉漢的書的時候一樣高度。他也提到基本上在該本書可以學到三件事情:(1)將擁有股票想成擁有一家公司的部分一樣,(2)讓市場為你做事而不是牽著你的鼻子走,和(3)投資時永遠保留一塊安全空間。在今天的環境裡,這些原則是關鍵的,而且我特別覺得第二點是很重要去記住的,就如同在我的觀點裡,這樣可以幫助投資人避開市場裡的雜音,幫助他們隨時間過去而改善投資性格。

9:35 AM 名人出現
當去年的股東會有Jimmy Buffett的歌曲串場,今年的名人面孔有Susan Lucci,她也在今年波克夏扮演部分的角色。巴菲特先生和孟格先生才剛粉墨登場,問答時間將會馬上開始,巴菲特先生說今年這個資本家的搖滾盛會有超過三萬一千人參加。

9:20 AM 今年的版本
今年的波克夏海瑟威大秀有幾段從去年股東會和過去活動節錄的影片–包括幾年前巴菲特先生就有關所羅門兄弟在國會做的證詞,還有一些波克夏旗下公司產品幽默的廣告。一個我特別覺得有娛樂效果的元素是兩個操英國口音的紳士幽默地討論去年債券避險基金和信用崩盤的小喜劇,裡面還有華爾街對無知的投資人用包裝糖衣的手法兜售這些毒藥。事實上,巴菲特先生曾經在2006年年度致股東信中對這個風險有點出來過,他說:當某個有經驗的人向有錢的人促成交易時,太常出現的是那位有錢的老兄到最後買到了經驗,而那位有經驗的人最後得到了錢。

8:30 AM 波克夏秀場時間
盛會就要開始,然後就是巴菲特先生和孟格先生冗長的問答時間,不要離開,更多大戲很快登場!

8:00 AM 大會開始
每年波克夏股東會都是由巴菲特和搭擋孟格先生的小漫畫喜劇做開端,我總是覺得那短片中最印象深刻的元素在最後一段,有對眾多波克夏經理人的細部描寫,而且配上了電影真善美的”MyFavoriteThings”的音樂。即使巴菲特是波克夏的門面,也是做出主要資本配置決策的人,他團隊中一些很棒的經理人才是真正讓那些公司向前運作,也才是讓波克夏可以有如此令人印象深刻長期表現的中堅份子。我總是覺得商業和投資的成功,組織裡面的人的因素扮演和其他因素相同吃重的角色,而這個片段總是向我強調真正傑出的經理人對公司的影響有多大。

7:20 AM 第一季營收
昨晚波克夏公佈和我預期出入不大的第一季營收,總體結果受到波克夏十六億美元衍生性商品市價跌損影響,主要包括一些信用違約交換以及一籃子股票指數市價的賣權。這個比對市價應該被大大地忽略,就我的意見,如果波克夏想要續抱這些合約至到期日的話,即使會計準則要求改變價值以產生損益表。
如同我所預期的,波克夏最大的事業體,保險業,因為事業線上受到利率下滑影響表現略差。最明顯的下滑是在波克夏海瑟威再保,由於巨災保單的業績不理想,而波克夏已經逐步抽離其中一些市場;汽車保險業GEICO即使在這樣的緩步利率環境中,還是有明顯的成長。
在投資面,波克夏完成了長毛象集團四十五億的案子,也購買了超過一百零五億美元的固定收益證券,這很明顯地說明了巴菲特本人,當被普遍認為是選股的高手的同時,也同樣身為就算沒有更好也一樣不錯的固定收益投資者。過去一季由於信用市場的震動,波克夏可能有辦法買一些殖利率不錯的債券。加總來看,波克夏的現金結餘在三月三十一日降低到三百一十億美元,這個現金水位還不包括在四月波克夏答應要幫瑪氏收購雷格利的六十五億美元。而且由於波克夏必須因為保險法規而握有大約一百億美元的現金,它的可支配現金結餘降到了一百五十億美元,這是比去年低很多的水準,而且也是顯示巴菲特先生在去年市場震動的時刻選到了很多具吸引力的投資標的。

7:00 AM 歡迎來到奧馬哈
從奧馬哈的奎斯中心歡迎您!波克夏的股東們正魚貫進場,今年的大會看起來比往年要來得大,大多數股東可能在過去一年信用緊縮和市場波動的背景下,對巴菲特先生和孟格先生評論經濟和股市這件事很有興趣聽。我也很期待聽到他們的想法,但是我也有興趣多聽一點有關接班人的計畫、波克夏未來可能的收購案,和其本身營運前景。

Justin Fuller is aMorningstarequity strategist, Berkshire analyst, and manager ofMorningstar'sUltimate Stock-Picker's Portfolio.

Woodstock for Capitalists 2008 Blog
M*_Justin 05-07-2008, 5:18 PM | Post #2512990 | 8 Replies

Saturday, May 3rd, 2008
3:05 p.m. An Insightful Day
Ihopethat you enjoyed today's discussion as much as I did, and Iencourageyou to contact me with any additional questions or insightsyou may have.

3:00 p.m. Hopes for Berkshire
Ashareholderasked Mr. Buffett what he hopes for Berkshire is that theculture staysstrong and that it remains a home for businesses that werebuilt byfamilies over time. He also hopes that the company willcontinue on asit is now by being a home for great businesses. I'll notethat cultureis one of the most valuable parts of any business, but themostdifficult to quantify. In Berkshire's case, Mr. Buffettviewssharpening the Berkshire culture as his chief objective, and in myviewthis culture will give his successor(s) an advantage in continuingtobuild the company for decades to come.

2:55 p.m. Pharma Stocks
Mr.Buffettsaid that he thinks pharma stocks as a group will do well, butgiventhat it is very difficult to value what is in the pipelines ofthesecompanies, he thinks investors would be best served by buying abasketof pharma stocks. I'll note that Berkshire's equity portfoliohaspositions in J&J, Sanofi-Aventis, as well as GlaxoSmithKline.

2:50 p.m. Envy vs. Gluttony
Mr.Buffettsaid that envy is the worst of the sins because if you becomeenviousyou feel worse, while the other person is the same--or evenfeelsbetter. He said, tongue-in-cheek, that gluttony on the other handhasupside.

2:35 p.m. Dividends for Berkshire?
A shareholderaskedMr. Buffett about the potential for dividends at Berkshire, andhe saidthat as long as he can continue to create more than $1 of valuewithevery $1 of retained earnings, Berkshire will not pay dividends.Giventhat Mr. Buffet has been putting a lot of capital to work latelywiththe Marmon Group, Mars/Wrigley, additional equity investments,and, morerecently, new fixed-income investments, I think there areheaps ofpotential for Berkshire to still create wealth by retainingall of itsearnings.

2:30 p.m. Credit Default Swap Market
Ashareholderasked Mr. Buffett about the potential for a blowup in thecredit defaultswap market, and Mr. Buffett said he thinks that ameltdown of theseinstruments is unlikely. He thinks that the chancesof this have beendramatically reduced by the Fed stepping in on theBear Stearnssituation, which I think implies that he thinks this setsa precedentfor the financial markets. He further said that the gainson one end ofthe swap market would be offset by losses on the otherend, and that itis more of a transfer of money than a systemic risk tomarkets. Inillustrating his point, Mr. Buffett also referred toanother insurancefirm I used to follow, Fairfax Financial, whichbenefited from there-pricing of credit default swap risks. I'll notethat in many ways,Fairfax has roughly modeled its business structureon Berkshire.

2:25 p.m. Munger on Financial Innovation
Mungersaidthat if regulators had banned the phrase, "this is afinancialinnovation that diversifies risk," the financial markets wouldhavebeen a lot better off.

2:20 p.m. Munger on Greenspan
"Alan Greenspan did overdose a little bit on Ayn Rand."

2:15 p.m. Fair Value Accounting
Mr.Buffettsaid that he thinks the use of fair value accounting may servetodiscourage management teams from doing overly risky loans goingforward.He went on to say, though, that some esoteric securities aresodifficult to understand that he wouldn't know where to begin tovaluethem.

2:10 p.m. The Credit Crisis
Mr. Buffett said thatin hiscareer he can't remember one episode where a blowup inresidential realestate has sent shock waves throughout the financialworld. He went onto say that he didn't think many of these weaklending practices willhappen anytime again in the near future. Mungersaid Web-van, which inhis words was an asinine idea, was moreintelligent than what happenedin the mortgage market over the last fewyears.

1:57 p.m. Munger's Reading List
Mr. Munger recommended reading Cialdini's book Influence, in addition to his new book Yes!
1:55 p.m. Your Most Important Investment
Mr.Buffettsaid that the most important investment you can make is inyourself,because an individual's potential often exceeds realization.He furthersaid that he asks high school students that if they couldbuy one carfor their entire life, how would they treat it? He thendrew an analogyto caring for an individual's mind and body. Mr.Buffett said that thereason people are effective in life is becauseother people want to bearound them and work with them.

1:40 p.m. Outlook on Coal
Mr.Buffettsaid that in the short term the world is in need of more coal,but thatlonger term it would be critical to find alternative sourcesof energy,and that in Berkshire's Mid-American utility business, theyhave beeninvesting in wind power, among other alternatives. Mr. Mungersaid thatfrom a resource-allocation perspective, he would rather havethe worlduse up all its coal first, before using its supplies ofhydro-carbons.

1:25 p.m. The Use of Models
Mr.Buffettindicated that in an investment professional, you need somebodywho canbe trusted and who has reasonable analytical skills, butmoreimportantly, someone who can imagine risks that haven't everhappened,which most models don't capture. He said he used this approachin hissearch for a new CIO, which he stated in his 2006 annual report.Healso noted that his thoughts were somewhat prophetic given whathashappened in the credit markets over the last few months, where mostofthe large financial institutions' quantitative models didn'taccuratelycapture the potential for what eventually happened. I thinkthis isinsightful, as it's always important to remember that models aretoolsin the analytical process, and not outcomes.

1:15 p.m. The Mars/Wrigley Deal
Buffettremarkedthat he was contacted to help in the financing of Mars'announcedacquisition of Wrigley last week. He indicated that the Marsfamily onlywanted to deal with him, because they knew the cash wouldbe there, andthey appreciated that Berkshire didn't require layers ofmanagementapproval and bureaucracy to get the deal done. I've thoughtfor sometime that these elements give Berkshire an advantage vis-a-vismanyother private equity firms competing for business acquisitions.Ifurther think these competitive advantages will give Berkshire'snewCEO a leg up when that person eventually takes the reins.

1:00 p.m. ....And we're back.
Themeetinghas resumed and Mr. Buffett received a question about thecomplexity offinancial institutions and if they have become toodifficult to manage.In a word, Buffett said yes, but that despitethis, most of theorganizations will work fine most of the time. And asfor Berkshire,Buffett remarked that he thinks of himself as the firm'schief riskofficer, which gives me comfort that he is probably thinkingof risks tothe company that most people haven't even fathomed yet.
12:00 p.m. Lunch
The meeting is breaking for lunch now; we'll be back in about 45 minutes.

11:55 a.m. Munger on Ethanol
Munger said that the policy of turning American corn into automobile fuel is an incredibly stupid idea.

11:50 a.m Buffett on Oil
Mr.Buffettsaid that he thinks the surplus capacity in producing oil issmallerthan he can ever remember. He went on to say that when oil everhits itsmaximum production levels, then it will hit a gradual declinein supply,though he said he doesn't have any idea of when we will hitour peak. Hesaid that there are no short-term fixes to weaning theworld off of oil,but that eventually behavior will adjust oralternatives will develop.Buffett said that it's hard for him toimagine that demand will startingfalling off based on currentcircumstances. Munger referred to solar asan alternative source ofenergy and said we have no other realalternative than the sun.

11:40 a.m. Munger on Diversification
"The whole secret of investment is to find places where it's safe and wise not to diversify."

11:30 a.m. Succession Planning
Ashareholderasked Mr. Buffett to give an update on his succession plan.Hereiterated his previous thoughts and said that he has threepotentialcandidates to take over the CEO job, and now has fourpotentialcandidates to take over the investment responsibilities, andthat it isthe Berkshire board's decision to decide who thoseindividuals willultimately be. He also said that the new CEO wouldlikely have someinput on who the investment officer(s) wouldeventually be. I've longsuspected that the CEO job could go to eitherAjit Jain or David Sokol,but that is only pure speculation on my part,as Mr. Buffett has neverindicated the name of any of the candidates.

11:15 a.m. Buffett on the Dollar
Ashareholderasked Mr. Buffett about his view on the dollar. He said hethinks thatthe U.S. is going to continue to pursue policies that willcause thedollar to fall vis-a-vis other currencies. He further saidthat hedoesn't hedge Berkshire's dollar exposure, but is happy to owneitherbusinesses or marketable securities that do have foreignearnings power.This is consistent with what Mr. Buffett has said overthe last year:Instead of taking a direct currency position, he wouldrather own abusiness with foreign earnings power. However, this is butonly one ofthe criteria that he uses when considering potentialinvestments.
11:05 a.m. Mr. Munger on Making Investments
"We buy businesses that are drowning in cash."

11:00 a.m. Municipal Bond Insurance
Mr.Buffettindicated that in the first quarter of 2008, Berkshire's newmunicipalbond insurer, Berkshire Hathaway Assurance, did premiumvolume of over$400 million, primarily written in the secondarymarket--meaningBerkshire sold insurance on bonds that were alreadyinsured by othermuni insurers. Effectively, Berkshire is doublyinsulated on thesecontracts, as not only would the municipality haveto go into default,which has historically been a very low probabilityevent, but thepre-existing bond insurers would also have to fail topay their claims.Given this double layer of protection on thesealready relatively safebonds, these transactions seem to me likealmost free money forBerkshire.

10:50 a.m. Mr. Munger on Exploiting Market Dislocations
"If you can't think fast and act resolutely, it does you no good."

10:45 a.m. Pair Trading
Ashareholderasked Mr. Buffett if he did pair trading (going long onesecurity andshort a similar security) in his partnerships in the1960s. Buffett saidthat he was roughly doing a version of that in the1960s, but that he'smade more money by going long than pair trading.Mr. Munger added, "Wemade our money by being long some wonderfulbusinesses."

10:40 a.m. Buffett on Communication
"The ability to communicate both in writing and orally is enormously important and under taught."
10:30 a.m. Career Advice
Ashareholderasked Mr. Buffett if he would do it all over again, whatwould he do,and why? Buffett said yes of course, and that he loveswhat he does andhe loves his life. For the rest of us, he said, "Itwould be a terriblemistake to sleepwalk through your life." He thenindicated that it'simportant to do something that you have a passionfor and that gets youexcited to get out of bed in the morning, whichis how he felt when heworked for his mentor Ben Graham in New York.

10:15 a.m. Common Stock and Berkshire Returns
Ashareholderasked Mr. Buffett for his outlook on Berkshire's futureequity andoverall returns. Mr. Buffett said that he thinks Berkshirewould belucky to earn 10% on its stock investments over time. He alsosaid hethinks Berkshire's returns will be lower than they have been.Both ofthese expectations are primarily due to Berkshire's large sizeand thatit needs "elephants" to move the needle on the valuation. Hefurthersaid that he thinks Berkshire stacks up well compared withother largecorporations, but that the rate at which Berkshire willmake money inthe future will almost assuredly be lower than in thepast. He did say,though, that with smaller amounts of money, someinvestors could dobetter than Berkshire because the smaller asset sizeopens up a muchgreater universe of opportunities than is currentlyavailable toBerkshire. He did go on to indicate that it will take alot of time andwork to potentially uncover mis-priced securities.These overallviewpoints are consistent with what he has said in priormeetings, andalso during his search for a new investment officer(s).

10:00 a.m. Philanthropic Advice from Mr. Munger
Hereis a paraphrase of his comments: If you are far to the right or far tothe left, you'll make a lot of dumb charitable gifts.

9:55 a.m. Use of Options
Ashareholderasked Mr. Buffett about his use of stock options in hisequitypositions. He said that he doesn't use options around hisequitypositions, and that if an investor likes the business and wantsto buya stock, he should just buy the stock and forget about theoptions onthe stock. Buffett then said that the chief difficulty ofusing optionsis that they require an element of timing that is verydifficult topredict. Mr. Buffett went on to say that in businessschools, studentsjust need to take two courses that will help thembecome betterinvestors. One is a course on how to value a business, andthe other isa course on how to think about market fluctuations. The keyinsighthere is that investing comes down to a basic understanding ofbusinessfundamentals and having an emotional stability that allows oneto havea mind set that is different from the market or the crowd.

9:45 a.m. Investment Advice
Ashareholderasked how one can correct one's mind set away from a crowdmentality.Mr. Buffett said to read and re-read Ben Graham's TheIntelligentInvestor. He specifically said that chapters 8 and 20 aremost poignant,but that the lessons from the book are as relevant todayas they werewhen he first read Graham's book when he was 19 years old.He also saidthere are basically three lessons to take away from thebook: (1) Thinkof stocks as owning parts of a business, (2) Use themarket to serve yourather than instruct you, and (3) Always require amargin of safety wheninvesting. In today's environment, theseprinciples are critical, and Iespecially think the second one isimportant to remember, as, in myopinion, it can help investors tuneout the rampant noise in the market,helping them improve theirinvestment temperament over time.

9:35 a.m. Celebrity Appearance
Whilelastyear's meeting featured a song by Jimmy Buffett, this year'scelebrityappearance was from Susan Lucci, who also played a part inthe Berkshiremovie this year. Mr. Buffett and Mr. Munger have justwalked onto thestage, and the question and answer session is scheduledto startshortly. Mr. Buffett has said that there are more than 31,000people atthis year's Woodstock for Capitalists.

9:20 a.m. This Year's Edition
Thisyear'sBerkshire Hathaway movie contained several clips from pastmeetings andpast events--including Mr. Buffett's testimony to congressseveral yearsago regarding Solomon Brothers--as well as humorousadvertisements fromseveral of the products under the Berkshireumbrella. One element that Ifound particularly entertaining was a skitof two gentlemen with Britishaccents humorously discussing thecollapse of debt-based hedge fundsamid the credit crunch of the pastyear, and Wall Street's use ofpositive naming conventions to sellthese toxic products to otherwiseunknowing investors. In fact, Mr.Buffett presciently touched on thisrisk in his 2006 annual letter toBerkshire shareholders when he stated,"When someone with experienceproposes a deal to someone with money, toooften the fellow with moneyends up with the experience, and the fellowwith the experience ends upwith the money."
8:30 a.m. Berkshire Movie
Themovie is justabout to start, and then it'll be followed by a lengthyquestion andanswer session by Mr. Buffett and Mr. Munger. Stay tunedfor morecommentary shortly.

8:00 a.m. Meeting Kick-Off
Eachyear theBerkshire meeting gets started with a comical movie featuringskits byMr. Buffett and his partner, Charlie Munger. What I alwaysthink is themost significant element of the movie, though, is the lastsection,which details the numerous managers who work for Berkshire, andis setto an adapted version of The Sound of Music's "My FavoriteThings."Even though Mr. Buffett is the face of Berkshire and the onewho makesthe major capital allocation decisions, his bench of greatoperatingmanagers are really those who drive their businesses forwardand are anintegral part of Berkshire's impressive long-term results.I've alwaysfelt that success in business and investing is about thepeople in anorganization as much as anything else, and this section ofthe moviealways emphasizes to me the impact that truly remarkablemanagers canhave on a business.

7:20 a.m. First-Quarter Earnings
LastnightBerkshire reported first-quarter earnings that were aboutconsistentwith my expectations. The overall results were impacted byabout $1.6billion of mark-to-market losses on Berkshire's derivativescontracts,which are primarily some credit default swaps as well as someputoptions on the value of a basket of equity indexes. Thismark-to-marketshould be largely ignored, in my opinion, as Berkshireintends to holdthese contracts to maturity, even though accountingrules require thechange in their value to run through the incomestatement.
As I hadexpected, Berkshire's biggest business,insurance, had lower resultsdue to softening rates across most lines ofbusiness. The most markeddecline was at Berkshire Hathaway Reinsurance,where catastropheinsurance policies have been declining, and Berkshirehas prudentlypulled back from some of these markets. Auto-insurer GEICOstillproduced decent growth, despite the slowing rate environment.
Ontheinvesting side, Berkshire completed the deal for Marmon Group for$4.5billion and also purchased over $10.5 billion infixed-incomesecurities. This is significant, as Mr. Buffett, whiletypicallyrecognized for his great stock picks, is just as good if not abetterfixed-income investor. Given the dislocation in the creditmarkets overthe last quarter, Berkshire was likely able to pick up somebonds withvery compelling yields. Taken together, Berkshire's cashbalance wasdown to about $31 billion as of March 31. This doesn'tinclude the $6.5billion that Berkshire agreed to pay to finance Mars'purchase ofWrigley in April. And since Berkshire must also hold around$10 billionof cash for insurance regulatory purposes, its disposablecash balanceis down to about $15 billion--a level much lower than inyears past,and potentially indicative of Mr. Buffett findingattractiveinvestments amid the market dislocations of the past year.

7:00 a.m. Welcome to Omaha
Greetingsfromthe Qwest Center in Omaha. Berkshire shareholders have juststarted tofile into the meeting. This year's meeting looks to be aneven biggerevent than in years past, as this year most shareholdersare likely veryinterested to hear Mr. Buffett's and Mr. Munger'scomments about theeconomy and the stock market, given the creditcrunch and volatility ofthe past year. I'm also looking forward tohearing these thoughts, butI'm also interested in hearing more aboutsuccession plans, thepotential for future acquisitions at Berkshire,as well as the prospectsfor its operating businesses.

JustinFuller is a Morningstarequity strategist, Berkshire analyst, andmanager of Morningstar'sUltimate Stock-Picker's Portfolio.

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