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Berkshire Neglect of Analysts May End Amid Buffett Succession

February 24, 2006

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc., valued at almost $134 billion, might as well be 1/17th the size for all the coverage it draws from stock analysts.

Just three analysts follow Berkshire, an insurance and investment firm with a market value that's bigger than all but 12 U.S.-based companies. The only others with as little coverage are worth less than $8 billion, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Chevron Corp., next in size by market value, is tracked by 24 analysts.

Companies typically court analysts, offering access to executives to help promote their shares. Buffett, 75, ignores them, instead speaking directly to investors through his annual reports and yearly meetings in Omaha, Nebraska. Berkshire, which hasn't named a successor, may need analysts more as Buffett ages, said Patrick McGurn, executive vice president at Institutional Shareholder Services.

``When Warren is gone, the market will start demanding coverage,'' said McGurn, whose Rockville, Maryland-based firm is the largest proxy adviser to U.S. fund managers. ``People will want a lot deeper level of analysis.''


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