Gisteren 2 mei was het weer zo ver, de jaarlijkse aandeelhoudersvergadering van Berkshire Hathaway. Ongeveer 40.000 aandeelhouders trokken naar het Amerikaanse plaatsje Omaha om te luisteren naar de woorden van Warren Buffett en Charlie Munger. Ook de pers was weer in groten getale aanwezig. In dit artikel lees je een samenvatting.
Het hele weekend vinden er allerlei activiteiten plaats, waarbij aandeelhouders vermaakt worden. Het programma is in de loop der jaren uitgegroeid tot een waar spektakel en wordt ook wel gekscherend “woodstock for capitalists” genoemd.
De vergadering vindt plaats op de zaterdag, met als belangrijkste deel de Q&A sessie waarin Warren Buffett en Charlie Munger 5 uur lang allerlei uiteenlopende vragen beantwoorden.
“Hi, I’m Warren and this is Charlie. He can hear, I can see. We work together.” Met deze woorden begint Warren de vergadering.
Hieronder volgen de belangrijkste opmerkingen en inzichten die Warren en Charlie deelden tijdens de vergadering.
Vraag: How will we know if Berkshire retains the ethical standards after you leave?
Antwoord Buffett: Because we have a great corporate culture. It’s a vital part of Berkshire to have a deeply embeded culture to maintain consistency. We try to maintain and define that culture. It’s a virtual certainty it will continue. Culture is ingrained at Berkshire and not dependent on my personality.
Antwoord Munger: I think Berkshire is going to do fine after Warren and I are gone.
Vraag aan Munger: Did you try to talk Buffett out of buying IBM shares?
Antwoord: No, IBM has been a very credible and enormous company.
Buffett: People assume we want to talk up our investments so price goes up. We like it better when stock goes down.
Buffett: If people weren’t so often wrong, we wouldn’t be so rich.
Vraag: Berkshire has essentially been “long” sugar with Coca-Cola, See’s, Dairy Queen, etc. But lately sugar is seen as health threat. Could that hurt the moat of competitive advantage?
Antwoord Buffett: Food and beverage companies will adjust to adjust preferences and maintain moats.
Buffett expects sales of Coca-Cola will continue to grow over the years, as it has in the past.
Buffett: One quarter of my calories come from drinking Coca-Cola (literally) and I’ve been alive for long time. I wouldn’t have lived as long if I just ate broccoli and other green vegetables I don’t like. It’s amazing how durable classic products can be. I don’t see smiles on people shopping at Whole Foods.
Munger: If sugar shortens my life, it’ll spare me a few months of drooling in a nursing home.
Vraag: Indicators showing high ratios of market capitalisation and corporate earnings to US GDP. Is Buffett concerned?
Antwoord Buffett: It is a very unusual time now with such low interest rates. Stocks are at historically high prices but rates weren’t so low. If we get back to normal rates, stocks at these prices will look high. The level of interest rates going forward is what will shape my view on how attractive stocks are. If rates stay low, stocks still look good. We don’t know what’s going to happen to rates so we try to buy strong companies that will do well over time.
Buffett: We think any company that has an economist has one employee too many. That is, macro conditions don’t matter.
Vraag: How will interest rates and the current economic environment affect Berkshire?
Antwoord Buffett: Berkshire will be very willing and ready to act if any kind of economic turbulence occurs, while others won’t be. If an opportunity comes about in the next decade, Berkshire will be prepared to make a decision both psychologically and financially.
Buffett: I think it will be very hard for the FED to bump up rates here, with negative rates in Europe. Now I could be wrong on that, but that has been my view now for some months.
Over groene energie
Munger: We’re going to use a lot more renewable energy because fossil fuels aren’t going to last forever. It’s not a threat; it’s a huge benefit to humanity. There will be more opportunity in the storage business than disruption.
Buffett: The key to solar and wind power will be the systems to store the power.
Vraag: Which companies will do well in inflationary times, and which will do poorly in such times?
Antwoord Buffett: The best businesses are those “you buy once” and then no longer need to invest further capital. A brand is a “wonderful thing” to own in inflationary periods. The value of the brand rises when inflation kicks in. On the other hand, utilities and railroads require investments that rise in cost when inflation strikes. Lees hier waarom dat zo is.
Buffett: I will predict we’ll buy at least one German company in the next five years. Prices may be a little more attractive in Germany than in the United States.
Buffett: Both P&G and Berkshire had tax advantages in the Duracell deal. We probably wouldn’t have been done the deal at that price without them.
Hier lees je meer over deze deal.
Over de Eurozone
Munger: The Eurogroup created something that was probably unwise, by adding countries that shouldn’t have been in there. You can’t form a business partnership with your frivolous, drunken brother-in-law.
Buffett: There are flaws and the flaws are apparent. I think the euro can and probably should survive, but it’s going to take some real transitions for it to do so. In its present form, it’s not going to work.
Over inkoop van eigen aandelen
Munger: Activists urging companies to buy back their shares in the current stock-market environment is not smart.
Buffett: A company should only buy back shares if the price is below its intrinsic value. Too often, companies buy back shares regardless of price.
Hier lees je hoe verstandig inkoopbeleid jouw rendementen een boost geven.
Over het minimumloon
Buffett: I have nothing against raising the minimum wage, but a dramatic rise would reduce the number of jobs. I prefer improving the earned income tax credit to address growing problem of income inequality
Munger: It would be stupid and hurt the poor if there was a large increase in the minimum wage.
Over de US dollar
Buffett: I think the dollar will still be the reserve currency of the world 50 years from now. I would bet on it.
Munger: There is still too much risk in the banking sector. The idea that regulation has taken that away is nonsense.
Buffett: Investing is an easy game if you can control your emotions
Munger: I don’t think value investing will ever go out of style. Who the hell doesn’t want value when investing?
Buffett: China is going to do just fine over time. It’s totally miraculous what the country has done so far. I would have not believed a country of that size could move so far, so fast. 40-50 years ago, they found a way to unlock their potential at an incredible rate. China and the U.S. are going to be the two super powers going forward. Both countries are better off if they’re both doing well.
Munger: I’m a big fan of what’s going on in China and I think it’s very likely to work.