20180318_biz_warrenwatch

Essays in “The Warren Buffett Shareholder” are by Berkshire Hathaway managers and others.


Lawrence Cunningham has engineered another book about Warren Buffett, this one a collection of essays by 43 people about Berkshire Hathaway’s shareholder meetings.

Titled “The Warren Buffett Shareholder: Stories From Inside the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting” (Cunningham Cuba LLC & Harriman House Ltd., 242 pages, $25), the writers include authors, Berkshire executives, professors, money managers, book sellers and others (including, ahem, me).

Cunningham, a law professor at George Washington University, and colleague Stephanie Cuba assembled the cast. The World-Herald plans to publish excerpts as the May 5 meeting approaches, but it’s hard to resist giving readers an early look now.

Here’s part of a piece by Thomas J. Manenti, who retired this year as chairman and CEO of Berkshire’s MiTek Inc., a supplier of building products:

“Warren is always 100% behind his managers; however, you do not want to ever step over a line that should not be crossed. I always felt an incredible responsibility for the stewardship of MiTek. You simply never want to let Warren down. Period. It’s part of the mystique surrounding the success of Berkshire.

“And if you’re wondering if that will change when (if!) one day Warren steps aside … the answer is categorically, and in my humble opinion, a big, fat … No. Not letting down the legacy of Warren and Charlie will be equally strong. Just wait and see.”

The book is on Buffett’s list for sale at the annual meeting, and some of the contributors will be signing books there and at other venues around Omaha during “Berkshire Weekend.”

DOUBLING OF WEALTH

Warren Buffett has given away nearly half of his ownership of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. since 2006, when he pledged to make annual donations to charities, but his wealth has nearly doubled at the same time.

Berkshire’s latest voting information proxy shows Buffett owns 17.2 percent of Berkshire, down from 32.3 percent before his donation pledge to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and four Buffett family foundations.

Since 2006 Buffett has given 230 million Class B Berkshire shares to the Gates Foundation, which would be worth about $46 billion at today’s prices. In that time, the price of those shares has risen from $59 each to more than $200, taking into account a stock split in 2009.

Since 2006, the value of Buffett’s Berkshire holdings has grown because of its rising price. In 2005, the shares Buffett owned were worth $44.9 billion. His shares today are worth about $86 billion.

At the same time, Berkshire’s shareholders have seen the market value of the company grow from $138 billion to $494 billion.

A ‘PAY CUT’

The proxy filing also shows Buffett got a “pay cut” for 2017, no doubt a change in rules about what counts as compensation.

In recent years Berkshire has included its spending on security for Buffett as part of his compensation, listed at $387,881 in 2016, alongside his customary $100,000 salary.

But the new compensation listing shows only the salary. That’s a pay cut, at least on paper, of about 80 percent.

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

Reporter - Money

Steve covers insurance, the economy and other topics, including Berkshire Hathaway, Mutual of Omaha, Blue Cross Blue Shield, business ethics the Affordable Care Act and other topics. Follow him on Twitter @BuffettOWH. Phone: 402-444-1080.

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