No 'bear' qualifies to ask Warren Buffett questions at this year's Berkshire meeting

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Posted: Wednesday, April 23, 2014 12:00 am

Warren Buffett couldn't find a money manager with a negative investment position on Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

So there won't be a “credentialed bear on Berkshire” asking questions at this year's annual meeting of Berkshire shareholders, May 3 at the CenturyLink Center Omaha.

In his March 1 letter to Berkshire shareholders, Buffett asked for “bear” applicants to ask tough questions at the meeting. His office said this week that nobody qualified applied.

Doug Kass, from Seabreeze Partners Management in Palm Beach, Fla., was the “bear” at last year's meeting. He said Wednesday that he showed his investment list at Buffett's request but that Buffett found only a “de minimus” negative position on Berkshire.

Kass said his opinion of Berkshire hasn't changed, including his view that its future growth is limited by its size. He said he held more negative positions earlier and later but not at the time Buffett was considering.

“I would like to have participated,” Kass said. “But I don't run my business to become a credentialed bear, but rather to make money. Sometimes discipline trumps convictions.”

At the Berkshire meeting, audience members will take turns asking Buffett questions with three journalists and three investment analysts.

Filling the “bear” spot instead will be Greggory Warren as a general analyst. He follows Berkshire for Morningstar Inc. The other analysts will be Jay Gelb of Barclays and Jonathan Brandt of Ruane, Cunniff & Goldfarb.

Berkshire's share price hit an all-time high Wednesday.

The Omaha World-Herald Co. is owned by Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

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