At Berkshire Hathaway's annual meeting, the unspoken questions at every party are:1) How much do you own, and 2) When did you buy?
OMAHA (FORTUNE Magazine) - Visiting this mid-sized city the weekend of Berkshire Hathaway's annual meeting is certainly a singular experience. Think about it: 24,000 multi-millionaires, all happy as clams, just dropping in! Howdy!
This group of shareholders has changed over the years. As one longstanding member of the Berkshire camp said: ''Look at all the kids!'' Yes, it's much more of a younger crowd now -- the typical Berkshire (Research) shareholder looks like a 38 year-old white guy in a blazer...though there are also plenty of beaming, well-appointed 60-year old couples.
The events are spread out all over this city of undulating hills. You have to make a pilgrimage to Gorat's -- Buffett's favorite steakhouse. Then there the mandatory visits to Berkshire companies like Borsheim's, the jewelry store, and the Nebraska Furniture Mart. (You can see all the shareholders with their ID tags around their necks...they nod to each other. There are parties all over town of course too. The real, often unspoken questions are:1) How much do you own. And 2) When did you buy?)
The annual meeting weekend is certainly more institutionalized nowadays. The entire Omaha civic center is filled....Bill Gates' security team took over the press parking lot (and booted us out!) according to a Berkshire source.
And there were many, many visitors from overseas....At least three shareholder questions were posed by Germans! I was lucky to spend some exclusive quality time with Buffett's partner, Charlie Munger. But you'll have to wait for the hard copy of FORTUNE Magazine to come out next week for that.