Warren Buffett To Shareholders: 'We Messed Up By Not Investing In Amazon'

Javier Howell
May 14, 2017

"They were totally wrong on that", Buffett said in Omaha, Neb., at the annual meeting of his Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

But he said Berkshire welcomes being alerted to misbehavior via an internal "hotline" that gets 4,000 calls a year.

Listening to Warren Buffett never gets old to thousands of Berkshire Hathaway shareholders.

Berkshire now owns 133 million shares of Apple, which Buffett said behaves more like a consumer-products company than a tech company. "And that's true of 8-year-olds and 80-year-olds", he added.

Buffett was joined by his longtime business partner, Charles Munger, who said both political parties - Republicans and Democrats - were facing great difficulty in thinking rationally about the issue at hand because they "hate each other so much".

In 2015, Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A) worked with Brazilian private equity firm 3G to merge Heinz with Kraft Foods. Buffett said at the time that 'Apple strikes me as having quite a sticky product'. He said the company had too much cash it could not reasonably deploy.

Buffett told the meeting Berkshire could pay its first dividend since 1967, "reasonably soon, even while I'm around". Berkshire bought the BNSF railroad in 2010.

Apple, which Buffett bought a stake in previous year, accounts for about 5.5% of Berkshire's portfolio.

Buffett is right that, for most of his stock-picking history, shareholders have likely been better off leaving their money in his care rather than siphoning the cash into their own accounts by way of dividends: Since 1965, Berkshire Hathaway stock has delivered annualized returns of almost 21%, more than double the S&P 500.

Ranged against them are sceptics such as the billionaire ex-mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, who see the decline as more due to automation and the shift to more easily accessible fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas.

Most of the weekend's other events celebrate shopping at companies owned by Berkshire Hathaway.

He was joined at the traditional newspaper tossing contest by friends including Microsoft Corp co-founder and Berkshire director Bill Gates and Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

Many hundreds of shareholders started lining up outside the CenturyLink Center, including several who said they got there almost five hours before doors opened at about 6:45 a.m.

"We're not going to change anything at the railroad just for some little tax jiggle", Munger said, referring to Berkshire's BNSF unit.

Other reports by Insurance News

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