There will be no sidetracking the collective investor focus over the next few days: it will be all Warren Buffett, all the time. Berkshire Hathaway's (BRK.B) annual shareholder meeting, commonly referred to as the Capitalist Woodstock (though they go light on the mud and nudity in Omaha, Nebraska) will be held this weekend and then on Monday morning, Buffett, who in recent years has never shirked from a camera, will be headlining CNBC (GE) for (count 'em) three hours.
With the financial world consumed with all things Warren, investors will be picking through his statements for hints of what is to come. They should save their picking. In recent years, Buffett, an undeniable genius, has turned into a platitude machine. At his shareholder meeting, questions from the public tend to be marshmallows. He is fielding questions from real live analysts this year, but I'll believe a true change when I see it. Moreover, there are issues of health and succession to belabor, as well as calls for buybacks to address until everyone is blue in the gills.
As for the direction of the economy, Buffett isn't quite a disinterested party. His holdings are so big and vast that Buffett has transformed over time into a cheerleader for the American economy. Even when he is negative, he tends not to be concerned with items that will give traders a notion of where the economy might be headed.
In the past year, his most noted public statement was a call for the "Buffett Rule" that, in either national fiscal policy brilliance or a transparent bit of pandering, presses for higher taxes for the wealthy. But for a trader, looking for guidance, that and a quarter will get you on the subway. And there are no subways in Nebraska.
In trying to interpret how recent earnings and economic statistics will impact the coming week, any traders living by his wits risks death. After all, where in the wide, world of conflicting signs is the pattern?
Apple (AAPL) and Starbucks (SBUX) did well in China, where another stalwart -- McDonald's (MCD) -- fell. General Motors (GM) was a mixed bag all by itself, while jobs number, recently welcomed as signs of recovery, looked more like impending doom. With another week of earnings on deck, the increasingly uncertain eyes of traders will fall on Buffett.
So investors are waiting on Warren. But don't bother.