Buffett Addresses Shareholders at Annual Berkshire-Hathaway Circus

"Woodstock for Capitalists" was just held in Omaha, NE.

Warren Buffett talked with Berkshire-Hathaway investors at the annual shareholder meeting on Saturday, but that wasn't the only thing going on. Investors were also roaming the meeting floor, sampling Berkshire-owned products, having photos taken with the Geico gecko, and just generally having the fiscal time of their lives.

The Oracle of Omaha and his fellow executives made a dramatic entrance on Saturday morning, prior to Buffett and his vice-chairman Charlie Munger taking the stage for a Q&A session. The event lasted for over 7 hours, and everyone from shareholders to financial journalists and business analysts got to ask a question to the pair.

Buffett's Opinion on 'Overvalued Bonds' and The Fed

Buffett delivered his opinion on the bond market, which he called "overvalued, and spoke about the coming Fed rate hike. When asked about stocks and whether they're undervalued, the Oracle replied that "If interest rates normalize, we'll look back and say stocks weren't so cheap." Still, he was realistic about interest rates, and predicted that they'd be nowhere near the 4% that they were when the Fed began slashing.

"I make no apologies whatsoever about Clayton's lending terms."

When asked head-on about the alleged predatory lending practices of Clayton Homes, a business of Berkshire's that sells manufactured homes, Mr. Buffett was clear about where he stood. "I make no apologies whatsoever about Clayton's lending terms... It's true that manufactured housing hits the lower end of the market."

Mr. Buffett went on to say that customers have been "exemplary" about paying back loans, and that it was up to them to decide how much debt they were willing to take on. He called the higher interest rates of those loans "justified."

Speech and then Shopping

After the CEO delivered his update to the shareholders, most people hung around for conferences and shopping. Every brand that Berkshire owned was on display, with products available to sample and special limited versions for sale. A golden vacuum cleaner was one of the wilder things that the Berkshire-Hathaway investors could buy, but the event is known for its shopping regardless of your taste in gold-plated appliances.

Then More Shopping

For the first time ever, this year the shopping event stretched into a second day. Investors have the chance to purchase all of the Berkshire-owned brands and were invited to watch presentations. In a somewhat telling sign, Buffett and Munger skipped the shopping and took a car home after the first day's Q&A was over and the press appearances were finished.

Everyone has reason to celebrate.

The Berkshire-Hathaway business machine had another excellent year. The notoriously-expensive share price of Berkshire (BRK.A) was up nearly $4,000. The company's stock is near $220,000 per share, down YTD from highs of over $230,000. With very few exceptions, Berkshire-Hathaway has continued to grow and make money year after year. Maybe you could even learn a thing or two from Warren Buffet.

If owning stock in Buffett's Berkshire isn't enough to make you want to pose with the Geico insurance gecko, it's hard to imagine anything at all that would make you want that photo.
Published on May 4, 2015
By Aaron Phillips
Aaron Phillips is a financial researcher and journalist based out of Michigan. He regularly writes the IG Daily and IG Weekly columns.

Copyrighted 2020. Content published with author's permission.

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