"I don't know of any good examples of an iconic CEO like Buffett ever being successfully followed," says KBW's Meyer Shields. Examples over the past 15 years: Immelt following Welch at GE, Ballmer/Gates at Microsfot, and Cook/Jobs at Apple.
One issue for any successor: By dint of his insane track record, Buffett has the freedom to make mistakes or underperform the stock market for long periods - moves that might get another CEO fired. "I feel sorry for the person who follows in his shoes," says Berkshire (BRK.A, BRK.B) investor Dave Sather. "Buffett's in a very unique position... to where he can just think 100 percent independently. I worry that the next person will not have quite the same flexibility to be a dealmaker."
Berkshire eventually plans to split Buffett's three jobs - CEO, CIO, and Chairman - but has not yet flagged who will be taking on the key roles.