Berkshire Hathaway’s eagerly awaited annual letter to shareholders dropped on Saturday, and frankly it was a bit of a dud. Warren Buffett didn’t have much to say, given his inability to find something to spend its $128 billion cash pile on, his unwillingness to address Berkshire’s underwhelming 2019, and the facts that the one piece of relatively big news he might have offered came out on Thursday in Berkshire’s quarterly filing and the Wells Fargo settlement came down too late for inclusion. Instead, given the 89-year-old’s decision not to pursue feminine immortality, the best he could do was simply reassure Berkshire investors that the company will be fine if and when he and his 96-year-old lieutenant, Charlie Munger, up and die.
“Your company is 100% prepared for our departure,” Mr. Buffett said.
Learning that a man about to enter his 10 decade is preparing for death, however, is hardly a good reason to read a 14-page letter. But Buffett, of course, is an epistolary genius, so he decided to trot out a couple of greatest hits, one in the letter itself and the other as part of the hype for it.
“When seeking directors, C.E.O.s don’t look for pit bulls,” Mr. Buffett writes. “It’s the cocker spaniel that gets taken home….” Directors with stakes in the company they serve, paid for with their own money and not as compensation for their role, are better incentivized to give good advice, Mr. Buffett says, even though they are often not considered independent for corporate-governance purposes….
It would be an interesting exercise for a company to hire two “expert” acquisition advisers, one pro and one con, to deliver his or her views on a proposed deal to the board — with the winning adviser to receive, say, 10 times a token sum paid to the loser.
“Cryptocurrencies basically have no value and they don’t produce anything,” he told CNBC’s Becky Quick in a “Squawk Box” interview. “In terms of value: zero.”
“I don’t have any cryptocurrency and I never will,” added Buffett, who was interviewed two days after he released his annual shareholder letter.
Warren Buffett Praises Performance, but Offers No Surprises in Annual Letter [DealBook]
Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Stock Underperforms the Most Since 2009 [WSJ]
Warren Buffett Has a Problem With ‘Independent’ Directors [DealBook]
Warren Buffett: Cryptocurrency ‘has no value’ – ‘I don’t own any and never will’ [CNBC]
Warren Buffett Found His ‘Elephant’ With Giant Stake in Apple [WSJ]
Warren Buffett slammed Wells Fargo’s fake-accounts scandal as a ‘total disaster’ after the bank agreed to a $3 billion settlement [BI]