39

We all are humans. Humans are mortal, and so is Warren Buffet. Given he is an elderly man close to 90, it is quite likely that he will pass away in the next years.

Sad events like these often cause the value of a connected share to abruptly decline. OTOH, it is said the market knows everything and all future events which are certain are already priced in.

Will BRK remain to be a good investment in the long term? Are there other examples in history with a similar constellation where conclusions can be drawn from?

Sorry if this question is perceived as rude, I have tried to phrase it as softly as I could.

  • 3
    Why close votes? Excellent question. – Fattie Apr 22 at 13:45
36

No one can tell what will or will not be a good investment in the future. However --

Berkshire Hathaway's annual newsletter to shareholders has, for the past several years, discussed this. Warren Buffett is 89, and his right-hand-man Charlie Munger is 96. They know they're not getting any younger and they're not going to live forever. They have been making succession plans so that the reins are handed over to capable -- but younger -- people.

Two names that have risen to the top in the past few years are Ajit Jain and Greg Abel, who were added as vice-chairs to the board a couple years ago.

This year's letter to shareholders, written before the COVID-19 shutdown, states:

Charlie and I long ago entered the urgent zone. That’s not exactly great news for us. But Berkshire shareholders need not worry: Your company is 100% prepared for our departure.

The two of us base our optimism upon five factors. First, Berkshire’s assets are deployed in an extraordinary variety of wholly or partly-owned businesses that, averaged out, earn attractive returns on the capital they use. Second,Berkshire’s positioning of its “controlled” businesses within a single entity endows it with some important and enduring economic advantages. Third, Berkshire’s financial affairs will unfailingly be managed in a manner allowing the company to withstand external shocks of an extreme nature. Fourth, we possess skilled and devoted top managers for whom running Berkshire is far more than simply having a high-paying and/or prestigious job. Finally, Berkshire’s directors – your guardians – are constantly focused on both the welfare of owners and the nurturing of a culture that is rare among giant corporations. (The value of this culture is explored in Margin of Trust, a new book by Larry Cunningham and Stephanie Cuba that will be available at our annual meeting.)

The newsletter does not state who will succeed Warren and Charlie, but when discussing the (now-canceled) annual shareholders' meeting, which is a big to-do with a jam-packed weekend of events, Buffett said:

On pages A-2 – A-3, you will find details about our annual meeting, which will be held on May 2, 2020. ... I’ve had suggestions from shareholders, media and board members that Ajit Jain and Greg Abel – our two key operating managers – be given more exposure at the meeting. That change makes great sense. They are outstanding individuals, both as managers and as human beings, and you should hear more from them.

Shareholders who this year send a question to be asked by our three long-serving journalists may specify that it be posed to Ajit or Greg. They, like Charlie and me, will not have even a hint of what the questions will be.

So, we do not know what the future holds for Berkshire. We only know that its current leaders have been planning for the handover for probably decades. It does look as though Ajit Jain and Greg Abel are being groomed to succeed Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger, but there hasn't been any concrete announcement yet.

Regarding other examples in history, I can't think of another company that is even like Berkshire Hathaway to compare with.

| improve this answer | |
  • 8
    Click the shareholder letter link. It's interesting reading, very folksy as is usual for BRK. Buffett even describes what's in his will regarding his shares. – shoover Apr 21 at 10:36

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.