Buffett, Berkshire Still Seeking Bear For Annual Meeting

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Buffett, Berkshire Still Seeking Bear For Annual Meeting
By Mark Hirschey (Work of Mark Hirschey) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

It seems no one is willing to bet against Warren Buffett any more. Despite a call in Buffett’s annual letter to shareholders for a “credentialed bear” to ask questions at the upcoming Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A) (NYSE:BRK.B) annual meeting, the company has not had anyone step up to the plate so far. So barring a last minute short coming out of the closet, it looks like this year’s analyst panel at the annual meeting Q&A will be all bulls.

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Warren Buffett: Berkshire Hathaway’s annual six-hour grilling

Back in 2009, Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A) (NYSE:BRK.B) began inviting three journalists to come to Omaha to ask questions of Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger at the Q&A after the company’s annual meeting. The reporters do not ask their own questions, but instead choose from questions submitted by Berkshire shareholders. For the last couple of years the Q&A has also included a panel of three financial analysts who ask their own questions.

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Buffett and Munger will answer questions from the panel and from shareholders in the audience for a full six hours most years, only pausing to drink some Coke or eat a See’s candy.

The company added to the Q&A panel tradition in 2013 by including a “credentialed bear” in the group. A credentialed bear could be described as an analyst who thought Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A) (NYSE:BRK.B) was a poor investment and could prove he had a short position on Berkshire’s stock

Doug Kass was last year’s bear

Doug Kass, the president of hedge fund Seabreeze Partners Management Inc, was the credentialed bear at last year’s meeting, and he did get the chance to ask his questions. However, Kass received some ribbing from media and analysts after the meeting for mainly lobbing softballs to Buffett and Munger. The New York Times called him more of a “teddy bear” than a “grizzly bear”.

Replace credentialed bear with another analyst

Given that no credentialed bear has volunteered for the job this year, Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A) (NYSE:BRK.B) extended an invitation to Morningstar analyst Greggory Warren to join the analyst panel, together with already named analysts Jay Gelb of Barclays and Jonathan Brandt of Ruane, Cunniff & Goldfarb.

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