It's Capitalist Woodstock day!
Tune into the live stream on Yahoo Finance, and come back here to discuss.
Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger start their Q&A at around 10:30 a.m. ET.
The company reported earnings last night, with Q1 operating EPS of $2,163 vs $2,274 in the same quarter a year ago.
Stay tuned for updates throughout the day.
Asked about whether Berkshire's structure might allow for a Wells Fargo-like sales scandal, Buffett points to a company hotline that gets 4,000 calls a year ("most of them are frivolous ... Anything that looks serious I will hear about") and suggests that it would be hard for things to get where they were with Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) without the CEO knowing, "and the CEO has to act ... It was a huge, huge, huge error if they were getting some communications and they ignored them or sent them down.”
Self-driving vehicles present a real threat to Berkshire's insurance and rail businesses, Buffett says. "Driverless trucks are a lot more of a threat than an opportunity to the Burlington Northern," he says. "And if driverless cars became pervasive, it would only be because they were safer ... and that would mean that the overall economic cost of auto-related losses had gone down, and that would drive down the premium income of Geico."
Asked about the unloading of a third of Berkshire's stake in IBM while continuing to build up in Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Buffett says “I regard them as being quite different businesses. They are two different types of decisions and I was wrong on the first one. And we’ll find out whether I was right or wrong on the second. I do not regard them as apples and apples. I don’t regard them as apples and oranges." On missed opportunities, "we failed you" by not figuring out Google (GOOG, GOOGL) sooner, and "we blew Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) too," Charlie Munger says.
"China has a bright future" despite growing pains, Munger says, and China's market is a lot cheaper than in the U.S. Buffett has nothing to add: Munger "gave the headline, China's stock market will outperform the U.S.," and he breaks the meeting for lunch, to reconvene at 2:15 p.m. ET.
Airlines (DAL, UAL, LUV, AAL, SKYW, HA, ALK, JBLU, ALGT, JETS) are also a topic of discussion by Buffett and Munger, which isn't a shocker considering that Berkshire (BRK.A, BRK.B) now has over $10B invested in the sector.
Buffett: "It's a fiercely competitive industry. The question is if it's a suicidally competitive industry. It has been operating at 80 percent or better of capacity for some time ... it's fair to say they will operate at higher degrees of capacity over the next 5 or 10 years than at historical rates. They actually at present are earning quite high returns on invested capital, I think higher than FedEx (NYSE:FDX) or UPS (NYSE:UPS)."
"It is no cinch that the industry will have more pricing sensibility in the next 10 years, but the conditions have improved for that," he observes.