This Sage Isn't From Omaha

Louis Simpson has moved from the sidelines to the spotlight at the stroke of a pen--billionaire Warren Buffett's pen. Simpson, president of capital operations for Geico, has been beating the stock market since at least 1980. But Geico became a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway last fall--and in his annual letter to shareholders, Berkshire CEO Buffett says Simpson, 59, would be a worthy backup for him and Vice-Chairman Charlie Munger.

Buffett, arguably the nation's top investor, writes that Simpson is "immediately available to handle [Berkshire's] investments if something were to happen to Charlie and me." Like Buffett, Simpson gets to know management at companies he invests in and makes long-term stock picks.

Munger says Buffett was not making Simpson his heir apparent, however. "We could have done [that] directly and not in some crazy, indirect way," he says. Buffett apparently just wanted to reassure shareholders that Berkshire's $22 billion in common-stock investments will remain in capable hands. Quite a plug for Simpson.

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