Warren Buffett’s annual insights to be delivered online

Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meetingImage copyrightAFP

Investors in Warren Buffett’s company Berkshire Hathaway will be able to access the “sage of Omaha’s” insights live on the internet this year.

Yahoo will live stream the five hour Q&A, and start of Berkshire Hathaway’s shareholders meeting.

The company traditionally hasn’t allowed any broadcasts.

Mr Buffett, 85, is the oldest chief executive of a Fortune 500 company, and his stock picking choices are closely watched.

Grand day out

“Mr Buffet and [vice-chairman Charlie] Munger might talk more about international things this year because people from around the world are going to be able to listen in,” said Steve Jordon, a reporter for the Omaha World-Herald paper, who covers Berkshire Hathaway.

“They may play more to the internet audience,” he added.

Berkshire Hathaway owns or invests in a wide variety of companies including Wal-mart, Coca Cola, Kraft Heinz, IBM, and General Motors.

Unlike shareholder meetings held by other publicly traded companies, Berkshire Hathaway’s often has a carnival atmosphere.

Tens of thousands of people make the trip to the company’s headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska, whether they own Berkshire Hathaway shares or not.

Succession plan?

The meeting often draws protestors.

In 2007 actress Mia Farrow was among demonstrators calling for Berkshire Hathaway to drop its shares in PetroChina. The oil company’s parent controlled wells in Sudan, where the government had been accused of supporting genocide.

This year, the Nebraska Peace Foundation will have demonstrators outside as it pushes for the company to produce a report on the ways climate change will impact upon its investments in insurance companies.

One topic many investors would like to see discussed at this year’s annual meeting is who will take the reins after Mr Buffett.

Mr Buffett, who has run Berkshire Hathaway for the last 51 years, will turn 86 in August.

The company’s vice chancellor, Mr Munger, is 92-years-old.

The pair have said they have a succession plan for the company, but have never publically disclosed it.

Two potential replacements are Greg Abel – who manages the company’s energy investments- and Ajit Jain – who runs Berkshire Hathaway’s reinsurance business. Both have been publically praised by Mr Munger.

‘Monumentally stupid’

The price of one Class A share of Berkshire Hathaway stock has more than tripled in the last 15 years.

On Friday one share cost more than $200,000 (£136,951).

In 2010 Berkshire Hathaway introduced a new class of shares – Class B – to allow more modest investors to buy stock in the company.

The Class B shares have 1/10,000 of the voting rights of Class A shares, so its owners have much less say in what happens in the company. On Friday, Class B were trading at just $145 per share.

Mr Buffett took over the Rhode Island based textile firm Berkshire Hathaway in 1965. He would later call this purchase a “monumentally stupid decision”, as the US textile industry began to collapse soon after.

At the same time though he began investing in other public company’s like American Express and insurance company Geico. These investments would prove to be highly valuable and helped turn Mr Buffett into a billionaire.