The Four Important Things at the Buffett Annual Meeting

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Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE: BRK-A) has been holding its annual stockpalooza or Woodstock of Wall Street for its shareholders this weekend. The good news, and the bad news, is that there is something for everyone here. 24/7 Wall St. had previewed what were the most important issues to us ahead of the meeting, and Buffett comments are out on most of them.

These are the four most important things said, by our take, at the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting. Some are said by Buffett, and many important things have been said about the event.

On Buffett’s succession plan – something we think may be out of context – is Howard Buffett’s role as a future non-executive Chairman. The WSJ named Howard Buffett as one heir apparent in the WSJ. There was also a brief discussion over who would replace Charlie Munger, with witty remarks – and, of course, no answer on the Munger front.

We pondered about the next what of a deal for an acquisition – and Buffett signaled that he would do more partnership deals with 3G like he did for Heinz. Reuters ran Buffett’s praise for the firm. As a reminder, we showed that Buffett still wants to do deals in the $5 billion to $20 billion range.

Buffett stood up on the Coca-Cola Company (NYSE: KO) front, signaling that he did not want it to look like he was going to war as Coke’s largest shareholder almost twice over. This may be the template that will likely be used for or against Buffett-assisted investor activism ahead. It turns out that a Berkshire Hathaway ‘abstain’ vote is the same as a vote against a plan.

On how Buffett will transfer his shares in future, or how trustees will transfer his shares after his death… Buffett said, “I have instructed the trustees to not sell a single share until it has to be sold. That is good for 12 years.”

On breaking up or selling off the smaller pieces of private companies, we did not expect to get much of that. Still, it does not sound like Buffett will be selling off his smaller private companies any time soon to help right size the portfolio. No smoking gun was given here, that is just our read of it by mentioning See’s and Furniture mart and others.

Are these the only important things said at the meeting? Of course not. What is super important to one person may not matter at all to the next. We still think that way too much emphasis is being put on this Coca-Cola vote because there is much more to Berkshire than this, but this is just the way of the world now.

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