Warren Buffett 'Oracle of Omaha' Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting 2014 Recap: Wall Street Punishments, Missing Growth Targets, and Coke
Warren Buffett, a well-known and respected investment guru and billionaire, also called the "Oracle of Omaha," spoke for hours to approximately 40,000 shareholders of his company during the recent Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting held at the CenturyLink Center, in Omaha, Nebraska. He talked about the stock market, the economy, and his company's widely renowned investing approach.
Highlights from Warren Buffett's responses to audience questions:
On Wall Street Punishments
Buffett stated that authorities should be harsher on the rogue traders of Wall Street, instead of the companies that hired them. He stated that eradicating unlawful behavior by individuals at the principal banks would be more effectual than broad financial sanctions against whole companies. The latter only results in penalizing shareholders and staff who are innocent. The octogenarian investor affirmed in conversation with his business partner Charlie Munger that he rather supports prosecuting individuals with jail, as fines are too insubstantial to seriously affect behavior.
His decision to withdraw from a vote on Coca-Cola executive pay brought some controversy. (Buffett's company owns 400 million shares or 9.1 percent of all Coca-Cola stock.) He said that he found the plan excessive, but also that it would be unproductive to "go to war" over it. He further declared that abstaining actually gave Coca-Cola a clear signal about his opinion.
On Missing Growth Targets
Warren Buffett was frankly asked about whether he is losing confidence in his investment firm, which for the first time in 49 years has missed its growth target (if only by a small margin), since he has advised his estate's executor to recommend to his wife that she invest in low-cost S&P index fund rather than company stock should he pass away before her. His response was that his advice was not motivated by a concern for maximum profit for her, since she will be left plenty of capital; presumably his primary goal for her investment was instead stability.