Message Font: Serif | Sans-Serif
 
No. of Recommendations: 85
In my opinion, the notes from the annual meeting that Whitney Tilson and TMFSelena posted were excellent. I will supply a link to their notes, as well as links to a number of Berkshire related articles, at the bottom of this post.

Although she doesn't know it, "iluvbabyb" on the "Yahoo" BRK message board is one of my favorite posters on any message board on the internet. "iluvbabyb" posted a number of messages from her annual meeting notes. They may be worth going back and reading.

I wanted to meet iluvbabyb and Benkea at Mr. Toads, but the timing didn't work out.

I realize that my notes from the annual meeting would be redundant at this point. For that reason, I decided instead to post a few of my observations from last weekend. I think that, next to the meeting itself, the best part of the annual meeting weekend are the unexpected surprises. Here are a few of my casual observations:

1. Berkshire who??: The lady working behind the counter at the car rental agency in the Omaha airport: "Are you attending that stock meeting thingy? I can't ever remember the name of it".

2. Doesn't get any sweeter than this: During the meeting, I couldn't help but notice the lady sitting a few rows in front of me. She seemed to be a very nice lady. I watched her as she offered See's candy to those sitting around her..... including the man sitting across the isle from her. I couldn't help but wonder if she realized that she just offered See's candy to Chuck Huggins (Operating Manager of See's Candy). Mr. Huggins declined, but seemed to get a big kick out of it.

3. Don't judge a book by the cover: While standing in line the morning of the meeting, I was talking with a group of people. One member of the group, attending his first BRK meeting, was explaining that his (very nice, very expensive) watch was purchased from Borsheim's. He seemed to be very proud of his watch. Due to my lack of interest, I missed the particulars on why this was such an expensive watch. The part of the conversation that I got such a kick out of was when another member of the group, a man who I have had the opportunity to meet at previous annual meetings, proceeded to show off the watch that he was wearing. His was from Radio Shack. He was complaining about the fact that he had to pay $30 dollars for this one. His last watch, which was just like this one, only cost him $11 dollars. At this point the man with the expensive watch looked at me and rolled his eyes.

What made this conversation so interesting to me was the fact that I happen to know the man with the Radio Shack watch is a multi-millionaire. Others in the group did not know this, and most likely would not have guessed it. He could own any watch he wanted to. He just happens to like the Radio Shack watch because if you press the button on the side, a digital voice will tell you the time.

One of the most interesting parts of the annual meeting weekend is just looking over the crowd of people. This may be the single largest gathering of wealthy people that will occur anywhere in the world, and yet, it's very difficult (maybe impossible) to figure out who the huge shareholders are compared to those who might only own one B share. Based on my personal experience, you would be much more likely to find pretentious people at your local country club than you would at a Berkshire annual meeting. If you have never attended a meeting, you might not have guessed this to be the case. I am fascinated by this, and hope that this atmosphere never changes.

4. It was a "fat pitch": Any Berkshire shareholder can recognize a situation when exceptional value is being given away to those who know where to look for it. For that reason alone, (this is my story, and I'm sticking to it)I must have walked past the See's candy ladies approximately 400 times. For those who don't know, these nice ladies were handing out free samples to those who pass by.

5. NFM -I'm Proud to be an owner: What a great place. If you have been to Omaha, but didn't venture over to NFM, I think you missed a great opportunity to see a very unique business. Every time that I have been in this place it looks and feels as if the store, not just the merchandise, but the store itself is brand new. Surprisingly professional sales people, too. I used the opportunity to learn more about HDTV. I spoke with a salesman at the NFM exhibit before the annual meeting, a salesman at the NFM location, and a salesman at the NFM exhibit at Borsheim's. Each seemed to be very knowledgeable and willing to contribute to my HDTV education. I did make a couple of small purchases at the NFM location, and was very impressed with how helpful and polite each employee was that I came in contact with.

NFM is a great example of how a wonderful business can continue to thrive even after the founder has "retired".

I don't think you could come away from our annual meeting without a feeling of pride for the companies that we own.

6. Who's treat is this?: By coincidence, I was standing next to the table where Warren Buffett was signing autographs at Borsheim's Friday night. I was standing close enough that I could hear everything that was being said at the table. This was one of the highlights of the entire weekend. I don't know how many times I heard Warren say "Thanks for coming!" I can't put it into words, but you definitely get the feeling that Warren is a very sincere man. If you were there to see & hear Warren communicate in these brief exchanges with shareholders, I feel certain that you would feel as if he means what he says. He really does enjoy meeting Berkshire shareholders.

On two separate occasions Warren's "security" informed him that it was time to leave. The second time that they told him, Warren told them to put an end on the line...... but he would sign autographs for everyone that was currently standing in line. I would say that this meant approximately 30-40 more autographs.

7. My friend TMFHunzi: Although she has no way of knowing this, Hunzi sat a couple of seats away from me after the lunch break at the meeting. What a coincidence. Unfortunately, I never did get a chance to talk with her.

8. First one here!: The first person in line for this years meeting arrived at 3:15 a.m.

I couldn't help but notice that he was able to catch a few Z's during the meeting.

9. Those new guys: If this years pre-meeting movie is any indicator, the Jordan's Furniture guys are going to keep us rolling in the isles for years to come. Very funny guys! Wish they would have had an exhibit.

10. He's a Billionaire??: You had to love the opportunity to see Warren open a Dilly bar package with his teeth! He really is my kind of guy.

11. Buddies: If anyone had any doubt as to how well WEB & CTM get along these days, I would have to think that their concerns were laid to rest last weekend. They really do seem to enjoy each other.

12. Amazing: I hope that everyone got a chance to watch the champion chess player (I'm sorry to say that I have forgotten his name) play against six Berkshire shareholders at the same time. Not only did he play simultaneous games, but he played them blindfolded! He had an assistant call out each move after it was made. He then had to remember each move that each player made, as well as his own, in each of the six games that he was playing at the same time. Very, very impressive. (And, like I said, I can't even remember his name!).

13. They write it, I read it: Previously, I have had the honor of meeting Larry Cunningham (The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Corporate America), Andrew Kilpatrick (Of Permanent Value: The Story of Warren Buffett), and Robert Hagstrom (The Warren Buffett Portfolio). I can honestly say that these men have all been surprisingly approachable. They all seem to be very interested in listening to what shareholders have to say, and very willing to take all the time that you would like to discuss Berkshire Hathaway.

This year I had the opportunity to meet Janet Lowe (Warren Buffett Speaks). Unfortunately, I did not have much of an opportunity to speak with Janet due to my own time constraints. However, she did seem to be very pleasant, and I absolutely can not wait for her book on Charlie Munger (Damn Right! Behind the Scenes with Berkshire Hathaway Billionaire Charlie Munger) which is due out in November.

I did get an opportunity to sit down and talk with Timothy Vick (Wall Street on Sale). Tim's a very nice, and very bright guy. I like the way he thinks. If you haven't read his book, I highly recommend it. Tim has a new book (How to Pick Stocks Like Warren Buffett: Profiting from the Bargain Hunting Strategies of the World's Greatest Value Investor) due out in June. I can't wait to read this.

Small world: During the course of our discussion, Tim indicated that he thinks he saw me play high school basketball (over 20 years ago!). Tim obviously has a good memory.

14. Warren & Ernie: What a combination. Two men who are in the enviable position of having a never ending love for "the game".

Warren Buffett- "I tap dance to work every day".
Ernie Banks- "Let's play two".

15. It does look a little strange: If you ever wondered exactly what the local Omaha people think about our weekend, I got a clue at the baseball game. I couldn't help but hear a group of mid-20 year old guys talking about us at the baseball game. It went something like this: "Don't ya think it's a little strange to see a bunch of millionaires stand in line for hours just to get the chance to sit on a Billionaire's lap and ask him for his autograph?"

16. Executive Jets were very impressive. Even more impressive was the business behind the Jets. I met the director of marketing (and international sales??) at the Executive Jet exhibit. I apologize for not being able to remember his name. What impressed me was this man's ability to immediately answer questions concerning even the smallest of particulars pertaining to the componentary involved in the jets themselves. He could also name exactly who does, and who doesn't, fly with Executive Jet. He could honestly tell you replacement costs for various parts of each individual plane, as well as if Michael Jordan flies with Executive Jet. In fact, he asked me to name anyone... movie star, athlete, CEO... anyone, and he could tell me if they fly with EJ. Here's the best part: If they didn't fly with us, he knew the reason why! Oprah? She has her own plane (we bought it for her). Michael Jordan? He doesn't pay for travel expenses.... he has enough companies willing to fly him anywhere he wants to go. Paul Allen? He owns two Boeing something or others.

If they don't fly with us, we know the reason why.

17. Coincidence #1: I was lucky enough to be seated across the isle from an Executive Jet pilot on my way home. Great opportunity. He was a great guy, and we hit it off immediately. I hope to have another post pertaining exclusively to Executive Jet, along with some of what I learned from this pilot. Very interesting guy.

18. Coincidence #2: While the drink cart interrupted my conversation with the EJ pilot, I started talking with the man sitting right next to me. The longer the conversation went on the more information I started putting together. Finally, I had to ask "your name isn't Rich, is it"? Turns out.... it was. Seated right next to me was none other than Rich Rockwood. Rich and I have been communicating with each other on the internet for some time now, but have never met in person.... prior to this flight. What a coincidence. Well, as I told Rich, this was the first time that I have ever wished that my flight would have been a little longer. I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation that we shared on the way home. Rich's web site is a good one to bookmark: http://www.geocities.com/WallStreet/Exchange/5144/index.html

19. After attending the annual meetings, reading the annual reports, and taking the time to make a concentrated effort to incorporate the Warren Buffett "system"...... don't you think an individual could do very well with his/her investments if they could learn to ignore the noise and focus on only two things? Two rules, three words each. I think they could keep you on the right path:

1. Sustainable competitive advantage.

2. Margin of safety.

If you can identify those two things, and have the courage of your convictions to act on them, I think you could do very well.

Good Luck,
Sandman

Here are the links that I think you might enjoy:

NBR Warren Buffett Interview: http://www.nbr.com/buffett.htm

Whitney Tilson- Meeting Notes: http://www.fool.com/boringport/2000/boringport000501.htm

TMFSelena- Meeting Notes: http://www.fool.com/specials/2000/sp000504a.htm?ref=yhoolnk

TMFSelena- WEB & CTM Press Conference Notes: (BRK.A Post #27155) A Very BIG Thank You to Selena!
http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?id=1070060006365000&sort=postdate

Doubts Quickly Extinguished at Buffett Annual Meeting http://www.thestreet.com/_yahoo/funds/chrisedmonds/930193.html

Buffett defends his tech aversion
http://cbs.marketwatch.com/archive/20000429/news/current/brk.htx?source=blq/yhoo&dist=yhoo

The Oracle Predicts the Market Party Is Over
http://www.thestreet.com/_yahoo/funds/chrisedmonds/930059.html

Omaha World Herald's Berkshire Hathaway 2000 page: A number of articles, and a bunch of pictures: http://www.omaha.com/Omaha/Berkshire2000/

The Toronto investment Club. If you can't find a particular article pertaining to Berkshire, this is where it is:
http://www.ticonline.com/

Good Luck,
Sandman




Print the post  

Announcements

What was Your Dumbest Investment?
Share it with us -- and learn from others' stories of flubs.
When Life Gives You Lemons
We all have had hardships and made poor decisions. The important thing is how we respond and grow. Read the story of a Fool who started from nothing, and looks to gain everything.
Community Home
Speak Your Mind, Start Your Blog, Rate Your Stocks

Community Team Fools - who are those TMF's?
Contact Us
Contact Customer Service and other Fool departments here.
Work for Fools?
Winner of the Washingtonian great places to work, and Glassdoor #1 Company to Work For 2015! Have access to all of TMF's online and email products for FREE, and be paid for your contributions to TMF! Click the link and start your Fool career.
Advertisement