With a full arena waiting for Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger to appear, the Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) – Get Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Class A Report annual meeting kicks off with a movie that’s one of the highlights of the event. And, while that seemed like it would lead to the two beloved billionaires appearing, it was instead followed by a video where Buffett got to show off his lighter side.
The second film opened in the year 2020 showing Buffett being woken up from bed. The clock radio played the 1978 Barry Manilow hit “Can’t Smile Without You,” a nod to it being the day for the annual shareholders meeting, but with no crowd in attendance.
Once he dons his trademark suit (off-camera) Buffett brushes his teeth and makes the drive to the arena where it’s an empty wasteland.
After some struggles with the door, he walks in the closed venue where Bill Murray greets him as a security guard. Murray asks him who he is, Warren gives his last name, then when pressed for a full name says “Jimmy Buffett.”
Security seizes him for not being Jimmy Buffett.
“I’m a stockholder, never sold a share.”
That’s followed by the same alarm clock scene, this time a year later. Buffett here’s the same “Can’t Smile Without You,” then skips bruising his teeth. He arrives at the empty venue, but is not shown so it can be revealed that he has a guitar and is dressed as Jimmy Buffett.
Murray has him taken away.
“I’ve been thrown out of better places than this,” Warren Buffett yells.
That follows by the alarm playing the same music again in 2022 where Buffett wakens with his suit already on. He heads to the arena only to be greeted by Murray who tells him he’s not on the list.
“I’ll just find a bar and watch it on CNBC,” Buffett said.
Murray relents and let him, and the scene cuts to Buffett and Munger live onstage.
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Buffett and Munger Make a Triumphant Return
When the camera goes live, the crowd slowly erupts into a mild standing ovation.
“It feels really good to get back to doing this in person,” Buffett said. “Charlie and I are now a combined 190 years old…I really think of you are an owner of a company and have two guys 91 and 98, you’re entitled to see them in person…if we had a manager who was 98; we might send somebody by.”
He then shared a story related to age and competency to run a business.
“We had a couple of managers who suffered from dementia, probably a couple more. We had a manager who suffered from dementia, but the business had done fine, so we try to find businesses that someone with dementia can run…you don’t have as much competition for those businesses,” he joked.
Buffett also shared his joy at having such a packed crowd.
“Yesterday we had 12,000 shareholders come to the room adjacent (the exhibition hall filled with Berkshire-owned company merchandise) and spend money on anything we could think to sell them,” he said noting that the company had brought in 11 tons of See’s Candy. “It’s sort of interesting, on this cover (he held up a See’s box)…there’s a picture of a woman born in 1854 and she probably gets her picture seen more than anyone…’Mary See’ a lot of people think this is me on drag…there’s a certain resemblance. Those rumors are started by our competitors.”
Buffett Wants a Level Playing Field for Investors
The CEO shared his philosophy for having the in-person shareholders’ meeting.
“We like to give everyone the same information at the same time preferably when the stock market is closed…we’re told by the people who mail out our information…that we have 3.5 million shareholders…I’ll take their word for it…we pay them by the account, so some days we’d like to count.”
And, while that got a laugh, the next statement brought some people to near tears.
“That’s a lot of people who trust us,” he said. “That’s a great motivator, trust.”