Berkshire Hathaway AGM: Buffett and Munger Quizzed on Succession

Questions tried to elicit information about the inner workings and performance of Berkshire’s operating companies and investments and succession planning

Greggory Warren 9 May, 2023 | 10:09AM
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Warren Buffett

While wide-moat Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting has always been entertaining, it has generally not been a huge source of meaningful insight into the firm’s operations. This year’s event had the feel of past meetings, with Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger joined by Ajit Jain and Greg Abel on stage taking questions from CNBC’s Becky Quick and shareholders during a live event in Omaha.

The nature of the questions coming from shareholders this year seemed to be driven more toward eliciting information about the inner workings and performance of Berkshire’s operating companies and investments and succession planning, although they were interspersed with plenty of questions about the economy, the health of the US banking system, and requests for advice from Buffett and Munger about one thing or another in the questioner’s life or business.

That said, we still think the elimination of the analyst panel and two of the three journalists has reduced the focus on the inner workings of Berkshire’s businesses and management’s capital allocation decisions. We also believe that one of the biggest drawbacks of the annual meeting format is that it generally prohibits follow-up questions, which might directly challenge statements coming from management during the course of the question-and-answer segment.

If we had to sum up our main takeaways from this year’s meeting – that is, from an analyst’s perspective – we would highlight the following: the meeting provided more insight into Geico’s woes; BNSF’s game plan remains a mystery; Berkshire is comfortable with the risks associated with some of its largest holdings (including Apple, Bank of America, and Occidental Petroleum); the company continues to expect to invest heavily in renewables; Abel, who is Buffett’s heir apparent, is invested more in Berkshire and keenly involved in business planning and capital allocation decisions.


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Greggory Warren  CFA, is a senior stock analyst with Morningstar.

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