WARREN BUFFETT IS HAVING THE TIME OF HIS LIFE.
Even as global markets gyrate, the stock of his Berkshire Hathaway is up 24% from a year ago, giving the company a market value of more than $200 billion. Buffett, 77, is busily investing big chunks of Berkshire's $38 billion cash hoard, capitalizing on a time of plentiful opportunity and scarce credit. Just last week, the company committed $6.5 billion to the $23 billion takeover of Wm. Wrigley Jr. by Mars. Capping it all off, a record 30,000 Berkshire shareholders and others were expected to descend on Omaha on May 3 to hear Buffett hold forth at the company's annual meeting, the fabled "Capitalist Woodstock."
How long can the old man keep this up? At some point he's bound to either retire or head to the great market in the sky, ending what is now his 43-year reign at Berkshire. Then what? Who will fill the biggest shoes in Corporate America? Barron's believes the succession situation at Berkshire has become clearer in the past two months: The next CEO is likely to be David Sokol, chairman of MidAmerican Energy, the big Berkshire unit that owns electric utilities in the Midwest, Pacific Northwest and Britain, as well as two U.S. natural-gas pipelines....MORE