|by Doug Stanglin, USA TODAY|
As he has done for years, Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire, and Vice Chairman
Buffett, at 84, has earned his title of "The Sage of
Berkshire owns roughly 80 subsidiaries, including clothing, furniture and jewelry firms. Its insurance and utility businesses typically account for more than half of the company's net income. It also has major investments in such companies as
Although there are few signs that Buffett is slowing down, one thing is certain — he has no plans to retire. He says he loves his work and remains in good health.
Still, gatherers at this annual meeting listened for any clues as to which, if any, of the company's current managers will get the nod as CEO when Buffett leaves the scene.
No clues so far, but Buffett has made it clear that Berkshire plans to split his job into several parts when he leaves.
One topic up for lively discussion Saturday was Coca-Cola, a Berkshire investment, and the negative impact sugar is having on Americans' health. Buffett conceded that "no one does well ignoring consumers" and said the food and beverage companies will have to respond to consumers' changing concerns.
But he also acknowledged he sucks downs a lot of Coke himself. "A fourth of all my calories come from Coca-Cola," he said. "I'm one-quarter Coca-Cola."
"If I would have been eating broccoli and Brussels sprouts, I wouldn't have lived as long," he said, taking a piece of
To which Munger, 91, observed: "Sugar prevents premature softening of the arteries."
"The way I look at it, it means leaving a few months early from the nursing home," he said.
On energy, Buffett summoned
MidAmerican said Friday it will have invested nearly
Munger acknowledged that all the new sources of non-fossil energy will be disruptive to energy markets but said the country has little choice. "What the hell do you do when you run out of fossil fuels?" he asked.
But not all questions are softballs. One stockholder, who said he was "disgusted," raised charges leveled against
Buffett defending the company, saying it has "behaved very well" and that he "makes no apologies whatsoever for
He noted that only about 3% of Clayton's
As for his own investment strategy, Buffett, said he and Munger don't seek to "talk their book" — or pump up companies they've invested in, such as Coca-Cola,
"If we talked our book, we would say pessimistic things," Buffett said.
"Why would we want the stock to go up if we're going to be buying" in a year or next year, he said. "People don't seem to get that point."
Added Munger: "If people weren't so often wrong, we wouldn't be so rich."