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NYT: Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting Live Blog

April 30, 2011

For those of us who did not attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting in Omaha, reading the live blog by Michael J. De La Merced for Dealbook of NY Times serves to fill us in what happened during the meeting.

Here are a few interesting quotes:

10:23 A.M. The state of Berkshire's businesses

Buffett's introduced the directors, though he told the audience to hold its applause until he finished. Or don't, whatever, he said. Of course, the crowd claps.

And now Buffett's speaking about first-quarter earnings. "Basically, all of our businesses, with the exception of those related to residential housing, are getting better. And you can see it with most of them quarter by quarter."

More: "We are a cross-section of the economy."

"What was very different in the first quarter was that we had probably the second-worst quarter for the insurance industry in terms of catastrophes around the globe." The third quarter's usually the worst because of hurricanes, Buffett explains.

10:36 A.M. Buffett speaks on Sokol The moment we've been waiting for.

Buffett refers back to the clip of the Salomon Brothers testimony he gave, 20 years ago this August. He recalled being elected the chairman of Salomon and then heading to his first press conference in that role. He was asked, just how did this happen?

Buffett recalls his response: "The phrase that came out of my mouth then was that what had happened was inexplicable and inexcusable."

More: "I think that for reasons that are laid out in the audit committee report, I don't think there's any question about the inexcusable part. He violated the code of ethics. He violated our insider trading rules. He violated the principles i lay out every two years."

"The inexplicable part I'll tell you what goes through my mind when I think about it. He made no attempt to disguise the fact that he was buying the stock."

12:01 P.M. Berkshire dividends: Folly or inevitability?

CNBC's Becky Quick asks a question on behalf of an absent shareholder: When will Berkshire offer a dividend? Otherwise, the only way that investors can realize a gain from their holdings is to sell their shares.

Buffett has this to say: Shareholders benefit more from leaving their money with him and reaping a handsome return than by getting a regular payout and depleting the Berkshire war chest.

There will come a time when Berkshire will offer a dividend, he adds. But that would signal that the company can no longer offer attractive returns from its deal machine.

"I think the day berkshire declares a dividend is a day when the stock goes down," he says. "As it should."

Read the complete live blog.

Rating: 4.8/5 (10 votes)


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