Berkshire Hathaway Inc. [NASDAQ:BRK/A] on Saturday, celebrated CEO Warren Buffett’s 50th year at the conglomerate, with the billionaire expressing optimism that the company would overcome the long haul. Buffet and second-in-command Charlie Munger has to face a series of questions from the audience, ranging from granular queries about the businesses to the challenge of income inequality in the U.S.
The queries were answered in good spirits and humor, with Buffett delivering in a fluent manner while Munger stuck to his one-liners, delivered in deadpan style. The audience, consisting of journalists, shareholders and analysts, grilled the Berkshire duo for five hours, and some questioned the business practices of the company like Brazil’s 3G Capita, which the company works with.
“Warren and Charlie, we love you,” shouted the 40,000 people at the meeting.
Shareholder wanted Buffett to talk about Berkshire’s small businesses like private-aviation company NetJets Inc., which was under contract negotiations with unions for more than two years. Pilots from the company held a rally outside the annual meeting venue during the day. Buffets stated that Berkshire wasn’t anti union and he expected that the management and the unions resolved the issue soon though it took several months.
Berkshire own more than 80 companies including Burlington Northern railroad, Geico car insurance, Benjamin Moore paint, See’s candies and owns more than $115 billion of stocks. The company own $63.7 billion in cash, which Buffet said that it will have to be supported by the economy. The cash is set to grow as interest rates are expected to rise soon, he added.
Buffett never hinted his successor, which indicates that he will not leave the company anytime soon. However he stated that he did not want someone who has a sole knowledge in investments. Berkshire’s largest non insurance unit Burlington Northern was praised by Buffet for the change as the unit was plagued by service delays, last year. Buffett stated that raising income would not solve the income inequality as it would require a large amount to make a change in living standards.[ Via ]