This Saturday, Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger will be fielding a wide variety of questions from shareholders about Berkshire Hathaway’s (BRK.A) (BRK.B)
Here are some questions for Berkshire that we’ve developed to try to help our interested readers prepare for the meeting. In turn, we’ve also developed a list of questions for you, and we invite you to leave and discuss your answers in the Comments section at Morningstar.
1. Can you summarize your view of current economic growth based on results in Berkshire's operating subsidiaries? More specifically, what are you hearing from the likes of Shaw Industries, Benjamin Moore, Acme Brick, Forest River, and Iscar?
2. Given the size of the Burlington Northern acquisition, will the change in Berkshire's book value per share from 2009 to 2010 be a little distorted, at least in the sense that it is a measure of the change in the real economic value for shareholders?
3. When you think about the contribution of Burlington Northern to Berkshire, is it only on a stand-alone basis? Or could deepening relationships between Burlington and Berkshire's operating subsidiaries also enter into the picture?
4. If you had to pick a single person, which CEO from your operating companies did the best job last year? Why?
5. Can you give us an overview and update on Chinese carmaker BYD? How fast is revenue growing? Are profit margins rising or falling, compared with a year ago? Have your expectations for future growth at BYD changed since you bought the firm? Do you still own 225 million shares in that company?
6. Have your expectations for future inflation changed much in the past year? If so, has that change entered into your capital allocation plans or the decision-making in Berkshire's operating subsidiaries?
7. Looking back on the financial crisis in 2007-09, have you learned any fundamental lessons that you didn't already think you knew before it erupted?
8. Last year, you expressed some support for the federal government's response to the financial crisis. Do you still believe those efforts were worth supporting like you did? Have our relevant public policymakers learned appropriate lessons, and will we see worthwhile reforms?
9. Would the move to force over-the-counter derivatives into centrally cleared arrangements requiring collateral have an impact on Berkshire's derivatives business and its competitiveness?
10. In the past, you've written about how impaired insurance companies can have incentives to supply more insurance, which in turn can lead to soft and/or inefficient market pricing. Where are we today on that score, compared to where we were a year ago?
11. Has the government's response to the crisis reduced the relative value of Berkshire's financial strength as a competitive advantage, compared to what might have been if the extraordinary bailouts had not occurred?
12. How could the relatively decentralized management structure in the Berkshire community evolve over the next couple of decades?
- Which is your favourite Berkshire subsidiary? Why?
- Do you think Berkshire's Class B shares deserve a discount given the discounted voting rights?
- If you were to recommend one change in Berkshire's corporate governance, operating, or financial practices, what would it be?
- Was acquiring Burlington Northern a good move?
- Should Berkshire be broken up, or is it more valuable as it exists today?
- Does Berkshire deserve a AAA credit rating? Justify your answer.
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