Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders Meeting lived up to its hype

Last weekend, we had the opportunity to attend the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting in Omaha, Nebraska.   “Woodstock for Capitalists” is a bucket list item for many investors and we finally crossed this epic event off our lists. For as long as we can remember, our Investment Team has discussed traveling to Omaha to take part in the Annual Shareholder’s Meeting and have the chance to see and hear Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger in person. Of course, our trip was one year too late, as Munger passed away in November, just one month short of his 100th birthday.   

It was the first time any of us had been to Omaha and we thought it would be fitting to have lunch at Buffett’s favorite steakhouse, Gorat’s.  Gorat’s isn’t fancy or modern, but reservations were hard to come by and the restaurant was filled with Berkshire Hathaway shareholders from around the world.  A cut-out of Buffett is just inside the door and we could tell why he likes this place so much.  Since Gorat’s is a popular destination in Omaha, they added lunchtime hours to accommodate more people and featured a special menu on Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders weekend, complete with commemorative merchandise.   

The scheduled activities started on Friday afternoon with the Shareholder Shopping Day at the CHI Health Center, which featured unique products from Berkshire Hathaway companies including Benjamin Moore, BNSF Railway, Duracell, GEICO, Jazwares, International Dairy Queen, Nebraska Furniture Mart, Oriental Trading, Pampered Chef, Pilot Company and See’s Candies.  We explored the exhibits, enjoying $1.00 treats from Dairy Queen, taking pictures of the Marmon Wasp, cutouts of Buffett in his Pampered Chef apron, and Buffett and Munger outside the Borsheim’s store.   

CHI Health Center was also home to the Shareholders Meeting and because of our proximity, we could walk to the arena Saturday morning.  While the meeting didn’t start until 8:45 am, our adventure started before sunrise as we lined up to get a seat in the arena.  The line stretched for several blocks, and we didn’t move until long after the doors opened at 7:00 am.  Thankfully our waiting paid off as we endured the wind and rain outside, before finding seats inside the arena, instead of watching from behind the stage as some attendees did or a video monitor in another room. 

The 2024 Shareholder’s Meeting was the first where Warren Buffett answered questions for five hours with Vice Chairmen Greg Abel and Ajit Jain, instead of the architect of Berkshire Hathaway, Charlie Munger.  The meeting always opens with a movie and this year Berkshire Hathaway paid tribute to Munger and many of his memorable moments over the past 60 years.  Buffett opened the meeting by reporting first quarter earnings that were better than expected and discussed the 13% divestment in shares of Apple, which was disclosed just before the meeting began.  Apple CEO Tim Cook sat in the audience and was mentioned by Buffett and Jain as an example of succession.  Even with the news about reducing the exposure in Apple, Apple remains Berkshire’s largest holding and Berkshire is still Apple’s largest shareholder.   

Many of the questions from the audience included a thank you to Buffett, an icon and a hero to so many people around the world, and also to Munger.  Questions from Germany, China, Japan, and India highlighted the meeting and while we didn’t see any familiar faces in the sea of 40,000 investors and shareholders, there is comfort in being surrounded with people who share our respect and admiration for Buffett.    

Buffett closed the meeting with a laugh saying, “I not only hope that you come next year, but I hope I come next year.”  A few hours later, Nebraska Furniture Mart hosted a Berkshire Picnic for dinner and the festivities closed out on Sunday morning with the Berkshire Hathaway “Invest in Yourself” 5K. 

The Shareholder Meeting was a bucket list event for us and we would encourage all who are interested to attend as it is an experience that you will treasure.  And yes, we did bring back a large box of See’s Candies for the office and it is now empty. 

Jeremey, Sam, Sandy at the 2024 Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders Meeting
Custom Berkshire Hathaway menu at Warren Buffett’s favorite restaurant, Gorat’s.
The Dairy Queen store was a popular stop on Shareholders Shopping Day.
Sandy enjoyed a Cherry Dilly Bar from Dairy Queen on Shareholders Shopping Day.
Jeremey enjoyed a Chocolate Dilly Bar from Dairy Queen on Shareholders Shopping Day.
The GEICO Gecko was a popular photo opportunity!
Jazwares had an incredible store with a beach theme and live characters that kids and adults loved!
Jazwares had a huge store with Squishmallows available for purchase and the best phot ops!
The Marmon Wasp, winner of the inaugural Indy 500 in 1911.
See’s Candies was the busiest store on Shareholders Shopping Day!
Oriental Trading Company had many exclusive items for Shareholders.
Duracell also had an Indy Car on display.
Pilot was setup to look like a truck stop.
Net Jets offered tours of one of their private jets.
Shareholders from around the world traveled to Omaha for the 2024 Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders Meeting.