Among investors, there are few prizes more coveted than the opportunity to
ask Warren Buffett a question at Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholders meeting. But this year, Fidelity Investments mysteriously claimed more than its fair share.
Turns out, it was no accident—and the Oracle of Omaha is none too pleased about being outfoxed on his own turf. Now he is turning the tables.
Warren Buffett is in demand at the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholders meeting, shown here in April.
“There’s no question they figured out how to game the system,” Mr. Buffett says. He said he didn’t like Fidelity’s ploy because “it’s not in the spirit of the meeting.”
Mr. Buffett says he is still formulating his countermove and is likely to detail a new questioning system before the next meeting on May 5.
For years, thousands of people have flocked to Omaha, Neb., to attend the annual meeting of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. It is one of the few occasions where investors can hear directly from Mr. Buffett, Berkshire’s chairman and chief executive, who shuns conference calls and private meetings with individual shareholders or analysts. Attendance has been above 30,000 in recent years at the so-called Woodstock for Capitalists, with many aspiring to ask one of the 50 or more audience questions allowed each year.
Three years ago, Mr. Buffett tried to put an end to footraces to the microphones that at times became scrums. He set rules to pick questioners at random, through drawings held next to 13 microphones in different parts of the auditorium. Shareholders could alternatively send questions to a panel of journalists that would alternate with the crowd in asking them.