Warren Watch: 'Tortoise Buffett' author a hit with Nebraska schoolchildren

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Posted: Sunday, December 22, 2013 12:00 am | Updated: 1:52 am, Tue May 20, 2014.

Lucas Remmerswaal’s Warren Buffett-inspired financial literacy campaign came to some Nebraska elementary schools recently.

The New Zealander was on an international trek that began with a book fair in Frankfurt, Germany, followed by a visit to Turkey, an east-to-west tour of the U.S. and stops in Indonesia.

Remmerswaal first came to Nebraska for Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s annual shareholders meeting in Omaha. Buffett, Berkshire’s chairman and CEO, has no connection with Remmerswaal’s book.

Students at Spring Lake Magnet Center in Omaha read his children’s book, “The Tale of Tortoise Buffett,” on the school’s Smart Board and quizzed him about the writing process. They tried out the mobile app that lets them interact with the story on their notebook computers.

“The kids loved meeting a real author,” said Collen Swanson, who teaches third grade and invited Remmerswaal to the school through a travel-related social media site.

Students were curious to know why Remmerswaal used certain characters or told his story in a certain way, along with absorbing the story of the frugal Buffett/tortoise and the day-trading hare, who eventually ends up a loser.

At Christ Lutheran School in Norfolk, Neb., “the kids loved it, especially the second-graders,” said reading teacher Lisa Guenther. “They kept asking questions. He has such enthusiasm. He really believes that we need to be teaching economics and saving in the schools. ... He’s a one-man show trying to help the world. I give him credit for that.”

Even though the Omaha students live in Buffett’s hometown, Remmerswaal said, “most students have never heard of Warren Buffett or read a story that included a moral of financial literacy.”

His organization, 13 Habits of Financial Literacy, has given 10,000 books to children over the years. He hopes to support the work by selling teaching materials to teachers and schools.

Success can cause problems.

Daily Journal Co., a publisher whose chairman is Berkshire Vice Chairman Charlie Munger, missed a deadline for filing annual figures with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Bloomberg reported.

The filing had an accelerated deadline because a 61 percent increase this year in Daily Journal’s stock price sent it above the “smaller reporting company” status. Instead of a 90-day filing deadline, the company must report its finances within 75 days of the Sept. 30 end of its fiscal year, the Daily Journal said.

Why did the company’s value grow so quickly?

Because Munger, 89, helped manage its investments, along with J.P. Guerin, vice president. Daily Journal’s publications include law, business and real estate newspapers and California Lawyer magazine.

Financial Advisor’s Nick Murray says the third edition of “The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Corporate America” is a “treasure.”

Compiled and organized into themes by Lawrence Cunningham of George Washington University, the text has “enrichment on every page and epiphany on very many,” Murray said.

Of Buffett’s writing, Murray said: “At his best he’s an essayist of the highest order, on a plane — in his perfectly unaffected and pithy Midwestern voice — with a Montaigne and even an Emerson.”

Edward Jones & Co. analyst Jack Russo of St. Louis told Bloomberg that some people think Buffett’s 50 percent purchase of H.J. Heinz Co. makes him a potential buyer of Campbell Soup Co., apparently reasoning that both companies cook tomatoes.

At $13 billion, Campbell would be a smaller buy than this year’s $29 billion Heinz purchase for Berkshire and 3G Capital, an investment fund based in Brazil.

Alexia Howard of Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. in New York said Campbell “would definitely be next on the list” if 3G wants to expand its food industry holdings with Buffett’s financial help. “There probably would be a lot of benefits on the vegetable procurement front,” Howard told Bloomberg.

Analyst Tom Graves of S&P Capital said Campbell is relatively low-priced relative to other food-related stocks.

Members of the Dorrance family own more than 40 percent of Campbell’s publicly traded stock, so they would have to agree to the sale and find something else to do with their money. So far there’s no sign their shares are for sale, and Buffett doesn’t do hostile takeovers.

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

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