The Booth Investment Club embarked on a 7-hour road trip to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway (BRK) annual shareholders meeting.
The annual meeting is known as the "Woodstock of Capitalists" and a place where investors come for reunions with friends and colleagues. It is also a sort of mecca journey for business school students. The event was held in the Omaha Convention Center, with approximate attendance of 40,000 according to Yahoo Finance.
Prior to the financial coverage, 2 hours of specialized and hilariously popular entertainment warmed up the audience. Entertainment included an animated cartoon skit spoofing the 80s movie Trading Places featuring Geico’s gecko as Eddie Murphy, and a showcase of Super Bowl-halftime-worthy commercials from BRK holdings and subsidiaries, including Coke, GEICO, Duracell, and others. Next, a video glorifying the construction of a wind farm, highlighting Mid-American Energy’s 3.6 billion dollar investment in an Iowa wind farm and a component of it’s 85-percent renewable energy by 2020 strategy. A comedy skit with cameo appearances from Arnold Schwarzenegger and, rumored crush of Charlie Munger, Jamie-Lee Curtis highlighted 92-year-old Charlie Munger as a Hollywood A-lister and ladies’ man while Buffet waits on hold with Arnold.
The 2-slide financial overview and 5-hour Q&A were webcast for the first time in BRK history. The event is special because of the incredible success of companies spanning decades and its founders’ value-oriented style of investing. This investment style attracts financially conservative folks who tend to wear blue jeans and drive ordinary cars, yet hold multiple $200,000 plus shares of BRK (at the time of the conference, voting shares traded at $214,000). There is also the charm and wit of the two founders, Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger. Several in the audience take notes to try and catch the "Munger-isms", such as, "If you disagree with someone, you should be able to state their case better than they can. If you can do that, then you can effectively argue", or "Microeconomics is what we do; macroeconomics is what we put up with." Buffet-ologists would remember one-liners such as Warren Buffet's "A full wallet is like a full bladder; when it gets too full you want to pee it away." or headline-grabbing comments about publically-traded company Valeant's troubles, calling Valeant a "Wall Street Scheme" whose business model is "Enormously Flawed". (Charlie Munger adds in his own succinct version, "Valeant was a sewer.") Booth students met several people including Whitney Tilson, Yahoo Finance's Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer, whom Jimmy followed with interest and became a source of humor on the drive home.
This trip was a bucket list item for many involved and the memories and friendships will last a lifetime. As founders Warren Buffet (age 84) and Charlie Munger (age 92) are advanced in age, the young clan of the Investment Club should have stories that will be rare in decades to come.
Attendees included: Investment Club co-chair and organizer John Milligan, Elsa Ng, Qi “Jennifer” Shi, Helen Huang, Pak "Jimmy" Wong, Charles "Chad" Miller, Qu "Emma" Xiao, Gongrou "Krystal" Zhu, Lei "Anderson" Dong, and Kurt Lyell.
The next Booth Investment Management Club event is to gather (May 24th at 9:15 PM at NBC/Gleacher) to watch the 1983 original Trading Places (noted to be one of Warren Buffett’s favorite movies); it will be the first viewing for many of the club. Naturally, a healthy debate of heredity versus environment should ensue!
Kurt Lyell is currently taking his first course at Booth and the Investment Management Club trip to Omaha was his first official Booth Club event!