Berkshire Hathaway’s Future Without Buffett

Whitney Tilson’s email to investors discussing his invitation to his two parties at the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting; Why he comes every year; Buffett on Squawk Box; Inside Berkshire Hathaway’s Future Without Warren Buffett; Washington Post annual letters, 1971 and 1972.

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Q4 2019 hedge fund letters, conferences and more

No. 1 Retirement Stock in America?

1) Following up on yesterday's e-mail, in which I analyzed Warren Buffett's annual letter and explained why I call Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-B) the "No. 1 Retirement Stock in America," here are a few other related items...

Warren Buffett: If You Own A Good Business, Keep It

Berkshire Hathaway Warren BuffettBuying private businesses is easier than acquiring public firms, and investors should avoid selling good investments at all costs, according to the Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett. Q2 2020 hedge fund letters, conferences and more In an interview with CNBC in March 2013, Buffett was asked if he was looking at any businesses, in particular, Read More


I will be attending my 23rd consecutive Berkshire annual meeting, which will take place in Omaha on Saturday, May 2. If you're going to Omaha that weekend (which I highly recommend!), I'd like to invite you to two parties I'm hosting on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon.

They are free, open to all, and will take place in the St. Nicholas Room (second floor) at the Hilton Omaha – right across the street from the CenturyLink Center where the meeting is held:

  • My annual cocktail party is from 8 p.m. to midnight on Friday, May 1. No agenda, no speeches, no dress code – just come, enjoy the drinks and snacks, and meet other value investors.
  • A casual get-together will immediately follow the annual meeting (about 3 p.m.) on Saturday, May 2. It will end at 5:30 p.m.

To RSVP for either or both of these events, please click here.

I hope to see you there!

Berkshire Hathaway's Future: Annual Meeting

2) I'm often asked why I keep coming to these Berkshire meetings every year...

In part, it's because I have a lot of fun catching up with old friends and making new ones. But more important, I've found that even after more than two decades of intensively studying Buffett and his longtime partner, Berkshire Hathaway Vice Chairman Charlie Munger, I find that I still keep learning from them.

In the early days of my career, I was so inexperienced – and Buffett and Munger were such brilliant, inspiring, and patient teachers! Had I not absorbed all of their investing lessons, I never would have achieved anything close to the success I did.

But I've realized that the most important things I've learned (and continue to learn) from these wise men go beyond investing into what Munger calls "worldly wisdom" – the key to succeeding in the larger game of life.

At its core, this wisdom is rooted in some simple concepts: Become a lifelong learner, develop good habits, be nice to everyone, marry the right person and then keep that relationship strong, and avoid calamities. But just like investing, while these are simple in concept, they can be difficult in practice. So it's always good to hear Buffett and Munger's wisdom every year.

And while you're supposed to be a shareholder to attend the Berkshire annual meeting, everyone has plenty of extra tickets – or you can simply buy one B-class share (currently around $220) and bring a copy of your brokerage statement. Flights in and out of Omaha that weekend are expensive, but you can fly to Kansas City and drive three hours from there. As for where to stay, I always wait until the last minute and either find someone with whom to share a room or just book something cheap on Booking.com or Hotwire – it's never been a problem.

Buffett on CNBC

3) Buffett was on CNBC's Squawk Box yesterday for two hours. Here's a summary:

[Buffett] and Becky Quick covered many topics, including his thoughts on Democratic presidential contenders Bernie Sanders and Michael Bloomberg, sub-zero interest rates, Bank of America vs. Wells Fargo, cryptocurrencies, and his new smart phone.

[The highlights start] with Buffett's reaction to the expected 3% drop for the stock market that day due to fears of a coronavirus pandemic.

You can watch five minutes of highlights here, Buffett's comments on cryptocurrencies here ("they basically have no value"), and the full interview here.

Berkshire Hathaway's Future Without Buffett

4) If you're a subscriber to Barron's, I highly recommend this cover story on Inside Berkshire Hathaway's Future Without Warren Buffett. Excerpt:

When Warren Buffett turns 90 years old in August, it would be only natural for Berkshire Hathaway shareholders to celebrate his success – and worry about the future of the extraordinary company he built...

Many investors think new leadership could break up the conglomerate to unlock value – or at least be more amenable to an idea that Buffett opposes. Given Berkshire's $128 billion pile of cash, the initiation of dividends and bigger stock buybacks also seem likely. Berkshire also could take greater steps to improve the efficiency and profit margins in some of its operating businesses, which are underperforming peers.

Much will depend on who succeeds Buffett, whose job probably will be split in three, with a CEO, one or two investment chiefs, and a chairman, expected to be his elder son, Howard. But the quality of Berkshire's operating companies and investment portfolio, and the opportunities for further shareholder enrichment, suggest Berkshire could reward investors for many years to come.

Even better, the stock currently looks cheap...

Washington Post annual letters

5) A young investor e-mailed me long ago, saying he wanted to study the annual reports of the Washington Post from 1971 and 1972 so that he could read what Buffett read when he bought the stock in 1973. What a great idea! I didn't have them, but former Post publisher Don Graham was kind enough to send them to me. With his permission, I've posted them here (1971) and here (1972).

Best regards,

Whitney