Investor angst continues over Buffett succession

"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.

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Comments (12)
  • palminator
    , contributor
    Comments (37) | Send Message
    It may be tough to follow Buffet, Gates and Jobs but Welch is not in their league!
    4 Mar 2014, 08:46 AM Reply Like
  • soccerref
    , contributor
    Comments (25) | Send Message
    If not for the divorce (marrying a lawyer!), we would have never known that he took almost a billion out of GE.
    4 Mar 2014, 01:03 PM Reply Like
  • JMajoris
    , contributor
    Comments (1408) | Send Message
    BRK runs on auto pilot. Even if the new successors don't make any big deals they'll still make tons of money. Has anyone thought about what would happen when Buffet leaves if BRK does nothing? No big deals, no big stock trades, etc?


    Comparing BRK and it's succession plans to any other company is folly.
    4 Mar 2014, 09:05 AM Reply Like
  • hiltonpeel
    , contributor
    Comments (2) | Send Message
    Warren Buffet is unique and his thoughts are as fresh as Billy Grahams sermons.
    His age doesn't worry me. He is a great person to read and trust.
    4 Mar 2014, 09:09 AM Reply Like
  • long_on_oil
    , contributor
    Comments (1367) | Send Message
    I watched his two potential successors on CNBC yesterday morning and it sure eased my worry about life after Warren. Those two guys and the girl were all very smart plus they appeared to be Buffet clones to me.


    I think Berkshire is in very good hands and there is a good chance BRK will be better off without Warren because since they were hired by Warren both of these guys have had better track records than Warren.
    4 Mar 2014, 09:12 AM Reply Like
  • rope789
    , contributor
    Comments (334) | Send Message
    "better track records than Warren. . . ."


    Well, not so fast.


    Todd Combs and Ted Weschler are both outstanding investors in their own right, BUT their "track records" were achieved: 1) over much shorter periods of time, and 2) on a considerably smaller asset bases.


    Each has different skill sets, both are valuable to Berkshire.


    But I do not think it is accurate to say "both have better track records than Buffett."
    4 Mar 2014, 01:59 PM Reply Like
  • long_on_oil
    , contributor
    Comments (1367) | Send Message
    Did you really read my post? If you did you missed the "since they were hired" part. I am not implying they have better life time records than Buffet. I am just repeating what Buffet said in the interview. In the CNBC interview Buffet said from the time he hired these guys they have both outperformed me. I am sure Warren meant their stock picks.
    5 Mar 2014, 12:33 PM Reply Like
  • Transcripts&10-K's
    , contributor
    Comments (1222) | Send Message
    From the article:


    "Jeff Immelt, the CEO at General Electric Co (GE.N), has been unable to get his company's share price anywhere near the heights achieved by his predecessor Jack Welch. Steve Ballmer had similar problems following Bill Gates at the helm of Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O)."


    Ah yes, the "look at the stock price" explanation - the only resort for a person without the ability to actual study financial results. You might notice something odd - Immelt and Ballmer both took over in the year 2000. At the time, GE was trading around $55 per share - or about 50X trailing earnings - and Microsoft was trading around $40 per share - also about 50X trailing earnings.


    Of course, the article makes NO MENTION of this fact - what a joke.


    Truly atrocious financial reporting, Reuters...
    4 Mar 2014, 09:31 AM Reply Like
  • mike shannon
    , contributor
    Comments (260) | Send Message
    Bryon Trott, my high school pal from Union High School will take over for Warren. that's my prediction.
    4 Mar 2014, 09:55 AM Reply Like
  • Thinley Wangchuk
    , contributor
    Comments (168) | Send Message
    This article exemplifies the incompetence and ignorance of the writer.
    Chairman = Howard Buffett
    CIO(s) = Todd Combs and Ted Weschler
    CEO = TBA
    4 Mar 2014, 10:14 AM Reply Like
  • soccerref
    , contributor
    Comments (25) | Send Message
    No one knows how long Warren Buffett will continue, Vice Chairman, Charley Munger, is 90-years old and still active. Buffett's father lived into his 90's so all the young MBA's (I have one also) will just have to wait for a shot at the title. In this business, experience matters and hang the books, though Mr. Buffett is a learned man.
    Remember the last heir apparent got greedy and is still a pariah. Holding his succession plan close to the vest is a wise move. And maybe Jamie Dimon will take up Buffett's offer to come work for BRK A/B.
    4 Mar 2014, 01:03 PM Reply Like
  • Unconventional
    , contributor
    Comments (3) | Send Message
    CEO will be Matt Rose of BNSF or Ajit Jain.
    6 Mar 2014, 02:31 AM Reply Like
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