For many years Berkshire Hathaway's annual meetings have given shareholders the chance to quiz Warren Buffett, the legendary investor, on questions profound and obscure.
Last year’s queries included:
‘How do you maintain your good mental and physical health?’
‘What is the future of mass transit?’
‘Do you believe in Jesus Christ?’
Clearly Buffett relishes the challenge. But even he thinks the 2008 meet lacked a little focus.
‘In recent years, we have received only a handful of questions directly related to Berkshire and its operations. Last year there were practically none,’ writes Buffett in his annual letter to shareholders, released last week.
As a result, Buffett is changing the way Berkshire will handle its Q&A session at this year’s meeting, to be held on May 2 in his native Omaha.
Three journalists have been selected to participate in the Q&A. They are Carol Loomis of Fortune, Becky Quick of CNBC and NYT’s Andrew Sorkin.
Shareholders are encouraged to email their questions to the journalists, who will pick out a dozen or so each that pertain to stuff the firm actually does.
Then, on the day, Buffett will alternate between questions from the hacks and questions from the floor.
This will ensure at least half are Berkshire-related, while retaining the chance for Buffett and right-hand man Charlie Munger to shoot the breeze on other topics.
In a further change, there will be a draw to select who gets to speak from the floor.
Previously, investors would stampede in when the doors opened at 7.00 am to queue at the microphones.
‘This is not desirable from a safety standpoint, nor do we believe that sprinting ability should be the determinant of who gets to pose questions,’ notes Buffett in his letter.