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Berkshire Hathaway Attracts An Eclectic Group of Investors

May 7, 1996

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) _ Rhoda Zusman’s family thought she was one asset short of a balance sheet when she and her husband purchased a single share of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. stock for $15,000.

That was several years ago.

Now, that same share is worth $33,800 and Zusman, who is the director of a mental health program in Tampa, Fla., considers herself a pretty savvy investor to have purchased the most expensive stock on Wall Street.

``I came from a very poor family and to own Coca-Cola and Geico is wonderful and exciting,″ said Zusman, who has purchased more than 15 shares of Berkshire Hathaway since 1988.

The legendary holding company, headed by Omaha, Neb., billionaire Warren Buffett, owns parts of Washington Post, Coca-Cola Co., Gillette Co. and Wells Fargo Bank.

Zusman was one of more than 5,000 shareholders that gathered Monday for Berkshire’s annual stockholders’ meeting. It was a time for the faithful to revel in their success and for the company’s newest investors to watch Buffett in action.

During the shareholders’ meeting, the sale of a new, ``cheaper″ class of Berkshire stock was authorized. The so-called Baby Berkshires should be issued Wednesday and are expected to trade a day later on the New York Stock Exchange at about $1,000 a share.

Berkshire has long attracted an eclectic group of shareholders with its conservative investment strategy that isn’t flashy or risky.

Retired farmers Roger and Shirley Hegland of Moorhead, Minn., almost didn’t invest in Berkshire. The price tag was troublesome, but eventually the Heglands purchased three shares.

``You can go to bed at night and feel very comfortable because of the solid companies Berkshire owns,″ Roger Hegland said.

Paul Schupf, an investment adviser in Hamilton, N.Y., purchased about $1 million worth of Berkshire stock about three months ago after sitting on the sidelines for years.

``It took 25 years for my eyes to catch up with my brain on this one,″ Schupf said.

Ed Welden, a property manager in Birmingham, Ala., had to rank as one of the smallest Berkshire investors. He shares a single share with his sisters.

His father purchased the share several years ago for about $12,000.

``I’ve never seen anything that’s grown like that. Of course, when he bought it, we didn’t pay any attention,″ Welden said.

Although he’s unable to afford buying another share, Welden would someday like to boost his investment. And, like almost all Berkshire shareholders, he has no plans to sell.

After all, they point out, Buffett’s motto is ``Buy Low, Don’t Sell.″

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