Buffett’s Board Selects Manager to Eventually Take Over as Berkshire CEO, Won’t Say Who It Is (Bloomberg)
…saying instead that directors were “enthusiastic” and have had “a great deal of exposure” to the person designated to take over as CEO. Buffett, 81, didn’t specify a timeline for the switch.
Buffett On Hormones, Housing (Berkshire Letter)
Every day we are creating more households than housing units. People may postpone hitching up during uncertain times, but eventually hormones take over. And while “doubling-up” may be the initial reaction of some during a recession, living with in-laws can quickly lose its allure. At our current annual pace of 600,000 housing starts – considerably less than the number of new households being formed – buyers and renters are sopping up what’s left of the old oversupply.
Buffett Says BofA Warrants Have ‘Great Value,’ Praises Moynihan (Bloomberg)
“Some huge mistakes were made by prior management,” wrote Buffett, 81. “Brian Moynihan has made excellent progress cleaning these up, though the completion of that process will take a number of years. Concurrently, he is nurturing a huge and attractive underlying business that will endure long after today’s problems are forgotten.”
Berkshire Profit Falls 30% on Insurance, Derivatives (WSJ)
Berkshire Hathaway Inc. said fourth-quarter profit fell 30% as the conglomerate’s insurance units struggled and derivatives bets added less to the bottom line. Mr. Buffett, who serves as Omaha, Neb.-based Berkshire’s chairman and chief executive, has urged investors to evaluate the firm by how it is growing in relation to the broader market. He often draws attention to Berkshire’s book value, a measure of assets and liabilities that he says understates the company’s actual value but can serve as an objective indicator of the company’s performance over time. Berkshire’s book value increased 4.6% in 2011, exceeding the 2.1% return of the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. It marks the first time in three years that Berkshire’s book value increased more than the return of the S&P, according to data provided by Mr. Buffett on the second page of Berkshire’s annual report released early Saturday.
Buffett–Adding IBM but more tech unlikely (Reuters)
Berkshire Hathaway Inc has bought more shares in International Business Machines Corp during the first quarter but is unlikely to do much more investing in the technology sector, Warren Buffett told CNBC on Monday. Buffett, asked about Apple Inc, said he has never bought the shares. He did note, though, that Apple’s late CEO Steve Jobs contacted him a few years ago seeking advice about that company’s substantial cash pile.
Actress Lucy Lawless arrested in oil-ship protest (AP)
Police arrested actress Lucy Lawless and five Greenpeace activists Monday, four days after they climbed onto an oil-drilling ship to prevent it from leaving a New Zealand dock. Police removed the protesters from their perch atop a 174-foot (53-meter) drilling tower on the Noble Discoverer in Port Taranaki. Chartered by oil company Shell, the ship had been due to leave over the weekend to drill five exploratory wells in the Arctic. Lawless and six activists climbed the tower early Friday to stop the ship’s departure and raise awareness about Arctic oil drilling…Lawless, 43, a native New Zealander, is best known for her title role in the TV series “Xena: Warrior Princess,” and more recently for starring in the Starz cable television series “Spartacus.”
Anti-Greece Statements Will ‘Destroy’ Deal Says Greek Minister (CNBC)
Pavlos Yeroulanos, Cultural & Tourism Minister of Greece, warned: “If you are speaking with both sides of your mouth, one side to the markets and one side to the electorate, then you are going to destroy what you are trying to create. Germany needs the euro just as much as Greece does. They need to decide whether they will make a real commitment to the euro, which has been a great thing for the German economy,” he added.
Europe Left to Dig Deeper After G-20 Rebuffs Call for Help (Bloomberg)
The decision by G-20 finance ministers to fend off pleas for assistance pending an increase in the euro-area backstop puts the onus on Germany, the biggest national contributor to bailouts, to overcome its resistance to doing more. With a parliamentary vote on a second Greek aid package looming in Berlin today, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government must now decide whether to back plans at a March 1-2 European Union summit to combine rescue funds and produce a potential firewall of 750 billion euros ($1 trillion).
Geithner Says Europe Has Lowered Risks of ‘Catastrophe’ (Reuters)
So that’s nice.
Investigators Scrutinize MF Global Wire Transfers (NYT)
Federal investigators examining the final days at MF Global and how customer money went missing are poring over scores of wire transfers in and out of the brokerage firm, including the possible movement of $325 million that may have belonged to customers, according to people briefed on the matter.
Sacha Baron Cohen as ‘The Dictator’ storms Academy Awards red carpet, dumps ashes on Ryan Seacrest (NYDN)
The 40-year-old actor showed up in full costume and full character as Admiral General Shabazz Aladeen the titular despot from his upcoming movie, “The Dictator.” “Ryan, hello! Death to the West,” Cohen greeted Seacrest. When Seacrest provided the straight line as to why Cohen was carrying an urn with the late North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il’s likeness on the side, the actor explained in a thick Middle Eastern accent: “It gave me the opportunity to bring my dear friend and double tennis partner Kim Jong Il. It was his dream to come to the Oscars and be sprinkled over the red carpet and Halle Cerry’s chest again.”” Cohen said, before seeming to trip and dump the urn’s contents all over Seacrest’s tuxedo.