OMAHA, Neb. (AP) _ Warren Buffett wants to steeply increase the amount of stock in Berkshire Hathaway Inc., a move that would open up investment in the famous company managed by the multibillionaire investor.

In the company's annual report released today, Buffett asked holders of existing Berkshire common stock, currently at 1 million shares, to approve the issue of an additional 1 million in preferred shares.

Berkshire common stock, the most expensive on the New York Stock Exchange, fell after the news, dropping by $150 a share at $22,050 by midday.

Preferred stock pays dividends at a specified rate and has preference over common stock when dividends are paid or company assets are liquidated.

Buffett said he decided to ask shareholder approval for the preferred stock because of an offer the company made last spring to acquire a large, family-controlled business in exchange for preferred shares of stock and other terms.

While the acquisition did not take place, he said, it made him realize he might need to issue such shares in future acquisitions.

Buffett, who as chairman and chief executive owns 42 percent of the company, sought to reassure shareholders that the company would strive to maintain the value of their stock.

He and Berkshire vice chairman Chairman Charlie Munger ``will not use these shares without being completely satisfied that we are receiving as much in intrinsic value as we are giving,'' Buffett said.

Berkshire is one of the country's most consistently profitable companies, with investments in corporations ranging from the Washington Post Co. to Gillette Co.

Berkshire's annual report is a prelude to the company's May 1 annual meeting in Omaha. It is one of the nation's most eagerly anticipated business publications, largely because of Buffett's wry commentary on business issues.