Berkshire Hathaway Holds Annual Meeting
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) _ Berkshire Hathaway investors gathered Friday for the start of the annual shareholder meeting weekend at the investment funded headed by billionaire Warren Buffett.
Shareholders had much to celebrate as parties began Friday night.
Berkshire Hathaway made $4.2 billion in 2002, one year after it earned only $795 million in net income as it paid out insurance claims in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Earnings per share were up 436 percent last year, to $2,795 from $521 per share in 2001.
Berkshire’s main business is insurance, but it owns companies and stock in a wide variety of industries, including furniture, restaurants, candy and newspapers.
Those businesses overall did well last year despite the sluggish economy, Buffett said in his annual report to shareholders in March. Berkshire’s stock market investments also did relatively well, he said.
The weekend events revolve around Saturday’s shareholder meeting, which features Buffett and Berkshire vice chairman Charlie Munger fielding questions for up to six hours.
People attend in droves because of Buffett’s business savvy, his wit and wisdom. He is the world’s second-richest man.
Kurt Liljedahl reached into his wallet Friday and pulled out a snapshot of himself with Buffett.
It was taken in a hotel lobby last year after Liljedahl introduced himself to Buffett, who was moving quickly to the next shareholders’ event at the annual meeting.
``He’s a very approachable man,″ Liljedahl said, a private investor from Shaker Heights, Ohio.
The down-to-earth friendliness Buffett shows his shareholders is one reason more than 10,000 gather each year at the annual meeting of Buffett’s investment vehicle.
Liljedahl, 47, made his first shareholders meeting last year. He has been a shareholder since 1985.
``At the meeting I was mesmerized for six hours,″ Liljedahl said. ``He can speak off the cuff about any subject but certainly financial subjects better than anyone in the world.″
Buffett maintains a whirlwind schedule as he meets with shareholders at gatherings that run long into the evening Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
John Hagerman, 77, of Sioux Falls, S.D., said he is attending his first shareholders meeting because he wants to hear what Buffett has to say.
``The whole idea is I admire his strategy,″ Hagerman said. ``He’s in there for the long haul and not concerned with the daily ups and downs.″
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