business

Key Takeaways from Warren Buffett’s Annual Berkshire Meeting

Warren Buffett tours the shopping floor ahead of the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting in Omaha on May 5.

Photographer: David Williams/Bloomberg

Key takeaways from comments by Warren Buffett and his business partner Charles Munger at Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting. See also the full TOPLive blog.

  • The pair still isn’t that optimistic about the dealmaking environment. They have more than $100 billion in cash and Treasury bills that they could put to work, but both have expressed dismay (like they did in the letter to shareholders in February) that their phone isn’t ringing off the hook with good, well-priced deals. He did seem to imply that Berkshire would even look globally for a some acquisitions.
  • We learned that Ted Weschler and Todd Combs, the two investing deputies, are generating returns that are just slightly ahead of the S&P 500. That just really underscores the struggle that value investors are facing this environment.
  • There was a bit of a pushback on Elon Musk’s comments that a "moat," or aspects of a business that makes it harder for new entrants to jump in, is "lame." Buffett did acknowledge that in some areas it seems as though moats are under invasion, but that there’s still businesses with good competitive edges.
  • The pair traded some comments back and forth on how they disliked cryptocurrencies, with Munger going as far as to say it’s like "trading turds." A bit of a rough comment, but he’s also called Bitcoin a "noxious poison."
  • His newspapers businesses, which have been under pressure and had to cut jobs, are still facing headwinds. Buffett said that only a few publications have figured out a viable media strategy and that he’s still seeking out ways for his BH Media Group.
  • Buffett’s expecting that the health care venture between Berkshire, JPMorgan and Amazon will choose a new CEO soon.
  • He still stood behind Wells Fargo, saying he supports Tim Sloan and expects that the company will recover, despite what’s been a tough year for the bank.
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