Sunday, May 3, 2009

Here's the Story on Berkshire's Munger (BRK.A)

This story appeared in Friday's Wall Street Journal. I will be referring to it in a post planned for next week and thought I'd bookmark it on the blog. From the WSJ:

Warren Buffett is synonymous with Berkshire Hathaway Inc., getting credit for billions of dollars in big deals that have made him an icon to investors around the world. But on the one day a year when he faces his shareholders, at his side will be his longtime partner, Vice Chairman Charles Munger.

On Saturday, the partners will take their decades-old act back to the stage in Omaha, Neb., telling thousands of loyal shareholders that they see huge opportunities amid the financial crisis that drove Berkshire to its worst performance since Mr. Buffett took it over 44 years ago.

The two men, Mr. Munger, 85 years old, and Mr. Buffett, 78, speak frequently and confer about most deals, but there are differences. Mr. Munger is laconic; Mr. Buffett loquacious. Mr. Munger leans Republican; Mr. Buffett tilts Democratic. Mr. Munger will pay hefty price tags for businesses; Mr. Buffett likes safe, dirt-cheap stocks.

Mr. Munger's views have pushed Berkshire into some surprising directions. Several years ago, Mr. Munger learned of an obscure Chinese maker of batteries and automobiles called BYD Inc., which hopes to create a cheap, functional electric car....MORE

From the Nightly Business Report:

One on One with Charlie Munger, Vice Chairman Berkshire Hathaway

SUZANNE PRATT: Warren Buffett says he wants tough questions from shareholders at Berkshire Hathaway's annual meeting tomorrow. Investors will certainly ask about the company's stock. It has tumbled more than 30 percent in the past year. Also answering questions, Charlie Munger, Buffett's business partner for half a century and Berkshire's vice chairman. Munger keeps a low profile, but today in Omaha, he sat down for an interview with Susie Gharib. She began by asking him what he'll say to shareholders tomorrow to restore confidence in Berkshire.

CHARLES MUNGER, VICE CHAIRMAN, BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY: I think the reality is that if you hold a stock for a long long term even though it's screamingly successful as an investment, you will have huge declines in the value of that stock two or three times in half a century. And I don't think that should bother long term holders all that much.

GHARIB: Mr. Munger, shareholders will certainly have questions tomorrow on why Berkshire took such large positions in derivatives especially since you and Mr. Buffett have warned for years that derivatives are dangerous investments. What are you going to tell them?

MUNGER: We think the bets we made were intelligent bets. That's why we took the positions. It's just that simple. We also think that the system which allowed derivative bets to be so widely available was bad public policy. There's nothing inconsistent in those two actions....MORE