Warren Buffett on A.I., value investing and politics — follow Berkshire’s annual meeting here: Live updates

Buffet says Apple is different — it is ‘a better business than any we own’

Buffett clarified that Apple is not 35% of Berkshire’s portfolio — but that it is a standout holding.

“Our criteria for Apple was different than the other businesses we own —It just happens to be better business than any we own,” Buffett said.

He added that the iPhone’s status among consumers makes it an “extraordinary product,” making him very happy to own a stake in the stock.

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Apple shares are up 33% since the start of the year.

“Apple has a position with consumers where they’re paying 1,500 bucks or whatever it may be for a phone. And the same people pay $35,000 for having a second car, and [if] they had to give up a second car or give up their iPhone, they give up their second car. I mean, it’s an extraordinary product. We don’t have anything like that that we owned 100% of, but we’re very, very happy to have 5.6 or whatever-it-may-be percent, and we’re delighted every 10th of a percent that goes up.

The Oracle of Omaha added that he regrets having sold some shares a few years ago.

“I made a mistake a couple of years ago and I sold some shares. I had certain reasons why gains were useful that year from a tax standpoint, but having heard me say that, it was a dumb decision.”

“We want to own good businesses and we also want to have plenty of liquidity. And beyond that, the sky’s the limit,” Buffett said.

— Hakyung Kim

Sometimes portfolio diversification is ‘deworsification,’ Munger says

Diversification has become a standard investing rule to help reduce risk and create a more resilient portfolio, but there is such a thing as overdoing it that investing educators don’t give enough attention to, Munger said.

“One of the inane things that’s taught in modern university education is that a vast diversification is absolutely mandatory in investing in common stocks,” he said. “That is an insane idea. It’s not that easy to have a vast plethora of good opportunities that are easily identified. And if you’ve only got three, I’d rather be in my best ideas instead of my worst.”

Some people can’t tell their best ideas from their worst, he continued, and oftentimes make the mistake of thinking what they deem a good investment is better than it might actually be.

“We make fewer mistakes like that than other people and that is a blessing to us,” he said.

“We’re not so smart, but we kind of know where the edge of our smartness is,” he added. “That is a very important part of practical intelligence. … If you know the edge of your own ability pretty well, you should ignore most of the notions of our experts about what I call ‘deworsification’ of portfolios.”

— Tanaya Macheel

Warren Buffett says ‘we’re not done’ with Japan

Buffett said he will continue to search for opportunities in Japan, saying he is “pleasantly surprised” by each of the five major Japanese trading firms that he raised his stakes in last month.

The Oracle of Omaha first acquired stakes in these firms in August 2020 for his 90th birthday. The companies, which behave similarly to conglomerates, are Mitsubishi Corp.MitsuiItochu Corp.Marubeni and Sumitomo.

In April, the Berkshire Hathaway chairman and CEO revealed he had increased his stakes in each of the companies to 7.4%. He even took a trip to Japan to show support for the businesses.

“We’ll just keep looking for more opportunities,” Buffett said to his shareholders.

“Berkshire is the largest borrower, corporate borrower, outside of Japan, that exists. We didn’t set out to be that. But it’s turned out that way, and we’re not done in terms of what may come along there. And we have some direct operations there, as I mentioned. And we have some really wonderful partners working for us.”

— Sarah Min

The conflict between the U.S. and China is ‘stupid, stupid, stupid,’ Munger says

Charlie Munger on U.S-China tensions: Both sides are equally 'guilty of being stupid'

The tension between the U.S. and China is unnecessarily harmful to both countries, according to Buffett and Munger.

The conflict is “stupid, stupid, stupid,” the 99-year-old Munger said, adding that each side should respond to stupidity with kindness. He believes that the U.S. should get along with China and have a lot of free trade with the developing nation.

“We are going to be competitive but should judge how far to push without the other side reacting,” Buffett said.

— Yun Li

Buffett: ‘We don’t get smarter over time, we do get a little wiser, though’

Warren Buffett: I don't understand the phone, but I do understand consumer behavior

Buffett said he may not be able to learn technical aspects of businesses, but it isn’t essential if you can understand other factors and continue learning.

He pointed to Apple as an example.

“I don’t understand the phone at all,” Buffett said. “But I do understand consumer behavior.”

Buffett said it’s important to understand how good businesses can become bad businesses or if something should be attracting interest. He said his team can’t predict the future, but it can determine things like what a price should be and threats to business models.

“We don’t get smarter over time, we do get a little wiser, though, following it over time,” he said.

— Alex Harring

Buffett reiterates Abel will be successor, discusses Berkshire executive bench

Warren Buffett reiterates Abel will be successor, discusses Berkshire executive bench

The 92-year-old Buffett reiterated that Greg Abel will be his successor and that other key executives will be decided by Abel and Ajit Jain when the time comes.

“Greg will succeed me,” Buffett said. “He will be sitting in a position where his equivalent — or something close to his equivalent, because he’s better at many things than I’ve been — he will need that substitute. When the question comes, we know Ajit’s opinion on that. But Greg will probably be the one that will make the final decision,” Buffett said.

Jain, currently the vice chairman of insurance operations, will lead the insurance division, leaving the question of who will be the executives for the other key businesses.

“Ajit will give him his best advice, and I think the odds are very, very, very high that Greg would follow it. But those are not easy questions,” Buffett continued. “We don’t have that many people that can run the five largest GAAP net-worth companies and all kinds of diverse businesses.”

He added that such questions would be better decided in the future.

“It would not be smart to name that decision now. … A lot can change between now and then.”

— Hakyung Kim

Buffett said he’d still want to be an American born today despite shift from partisanship to tribalism

Buffett on American progress: The United States is a better place now than when I was born

America has challenges, but Buffett said he’d still choose to be born there — and would like to be born today.

Buffett said America is a better place to live than it was when he was born. He also noted the government looked like a “mess” in the 1940s when his dad was a member of Congress.

“The challenges are huge,” he said. “Partisanship, it seems to be, has moved toward tribalism, and tribalism just doesn’t work as well.”

Tribalism means not hearing the other side and can lead to mobs, he said.

Still, Buffett said the world is better than it has ever been, but people can see more of the bad things with modern communication. He said the current world is both exciting and challenging, while not claiming to know solutions to the biggest problems. And Buffett said he’d still want to be born in the U.S.

“We have to refine, in a certain way, our democracy as we go along,” Buffett said. “But if I still had a choice … I’d want to be born in the United States and I’d want to be born today.”

But Munger said he’s “slightly less optimistic” than Buffett, adding that the “best road ahead to human happiness is to expect less.” However, Munger noted that he’d prefer to live today than when he was born in 1924 when asked by Buffett.

— Alex Harring

Commercial real estate starting to see the consequences of high borrowing rates, Buffett says

Commercial real estate starting to see the consequences of high borrowing rates, Buffett says

Berkshire Hathaway has never been very active in commercial real estate, but the “hollowing out of the downtowns in the United States and elsewhere in the world is going to be quite significant and quite unpleasant,” Munger said.

Buffett said the commercial real estate market value mainly depends on how much you can borrow non-recourse, and it’s starting to see the consequences of that.

“That’s the attitude of most people that have become big in the real estate business and it does mean the lenders are the ones that get the property,” Buffett said. “And of course they don’t want the property… the bank tends to extend and pretend.”

“It all has consequences,” he added. “We are starting to see the consequences of people who could borrow at 2.5% and find out it doesn’t work at current rates, and they hand it back to somebody that gave them all the money they needed to build it.”

— Tanaya Macheel

Opportunity in value investing comes from others doing ‘dumb things,’ Buffett says

Warren Buffett: Other people doing dumb things is what creates good opportunities

Buffett said investors specifically focused on value get opportunities when others make bad decisions.

“What gives you opportunities is other people doing dumb things,” he said.

Still, Munger said value investors should be comfortable making less because there’s more competition. He said there’s a lot of more in the hands of “smart people all trying to outsmart one another.”

But Buffett said those people are trying to outsmart each other in arenas investors do not have to enter. He said the world is overwhelmingly short-term focused.

“I would love to be born today and go out with not too much money and hopefully turn it in to a lot of money,” Buffett said. “And Charlie would too actually.”

Buffett said Munger would also have a “big pile” from his decisions, but Munger said he wouldn’t like the possibility of his pile shrinking.

— Alex Harring

Charlie Munger expects ‘old fashioned intelligence works pretty well’ over AI

Buffett and Munger on A.I. revolution: Old-fashion intelligence works pretty well

Billionaire investor Charlie Munger expressed skepticism in response to a shareholder question on the future of artificial intelligence — though he admits it will rapidly transform many industries.

“We’re going to see a lot more robotics in the world,” Munger said. “I’m personally skeptical of some of the hype in AI. I think old fashioned intelligence works pretty well.”

Warren Buffett shared his view. While he expects AI will “change everything in the world,” he doesn’t think it will trump human intelligence.

— Sarah Min

Buffett: Not fully backstopping failed Silicon Valley Bank ‘would’ve been catastrophic’

Warren Buffett on banking fallout: Crisis would have been 'catastrophic' without government backstop

Buffett said the regulators’ decision to backstop all depositors after Silicon Valley Bank failed had to be done, as not doing so could hurt the global financial system.

“It would’ve been catastrophic,” Buffett said in response to a question asking what the economic consequences would be in the U.S. if all depositors were not made whole.

While he noted the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation has a $250,000 limit on insuring deposits, that’s “not the way the U.S. is going to behave.” He said no one would want to be the one explaining why the limit wasn’t expanded considering not doing so could prompt a run on more banks and disrupt the global financial system.

“I think it was inevitable,” he said.

— Alex Harring

Ajit Jain says Geico is ‘taking the bull by the horns’ to improve telematics

Berkshire's Ajit Jain says Geico is 'taking the bull by the horns' to improve telematics

Ajit Jain, Berkshire’s vice chairman of insurance operations, said auto insurer Geico is “taking the bull by the horns” to improve the use of telematics.

Telematics programs allow insurers to collect clients’ driving data, including their mileage and speed, to help price policies.

Geico has been losing market share to Progressive in recent years as it didn’t embrace technology as quickly as its competitor. Jain previously said Geico started incorporating telematics two to three years ago, while Progressive has been on the bandwagon for close to 20 years.

Jain said Saturday that Geico is “still a work in progress” even though it posted a big underwriting profit of $700 million in the first quarter after suffering steep underwriting losses for 2022.

— Yun Li

Warren Buffett was a net seller of stocks in Q1

Buffett said he was a net seller of stocks in the first quarter. Berkshire sold $13.2 billion worth of stocks, buying only $2.8 billion, according to its earnings report.

— Yun Li

‘We’ve got our own ‘King Charles’ here today,’ Buffett says introducing Charles Munger

Warren Buffett kicks off 2023 Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholders meeting

As Buffett took the stage Saturday, he referenced the coronation of King Charles III happening in England hours earlier, as he introduced his longtime partner, Charlie Munger, to the crowd.

“When I woke up this morning, I realized that we had a competitive broadcast going out somewhere in the U.K.,” Buffett said. “They were celebrating a ‘King Charles,’ and we’ve got our own ‘King Charles’ here today.”

— Alex Harring

Buffett says A.I. probably won’t ‘tell you which stocks to buy’

Microsoft seen on mobile with ChatGPT 4 on screen, seen in this photo illustration. On 15 March 2023 in Brussels, Belgium. 

Jonathan Raa | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Warren Buffett said that while AI can help screen for stocks that fall under certain parameters, it has its limitations beyond that.

“It’s sort of weird,” he said in an interview with NBC’s local Omaha affiliate. “I don’t think it’s going to tell you what stocks to buy. It can tell me every stock that meets a certain criteria, or a criteria in three seconds. But it has decided limitations in some ways. You ought to see the jokes it came up with.”

Buffett added that he tinkered with ChatGPT three months ago when Bill Gates showed him how it worked.

“It’s very interesting,” he continued. “It can translate the Constitution into Spanish in one second. But the computer could not tell jokes. You could tell it to make a joke about Warren and crypto. It’s read every book and seen all TV, but it couldn’t do that. I told Bill to bring it back when I can ask it, ‘How are you going to get rid of the human race?’ I want to see what it says — and pull the plug out before it does it.”

— Hakyung Kim

A Buffett deal would bring ‘confidence’ to banking sector, says Ariel Investments’ Rogers

If you are going to buy banks, buy a whole basket of them: Ariel Investment's John Rogers

Warren Buffett historically has been there as a source of stable capital for the financial system when it seemed like it was in trouble. Given the current turmoil in among banks, it would be a big deal if he were to show up for the sector again, said John Rogers, chairman and co-CEO chief investment officer of Ariel Investments.

“That would bring a lot of confidence to the economy and the financial system,” he said. “Whenever he steps up – all of us believe in him so much, so I think it would be great if he was able to be helpful during this period and get a great return for Berkshire shareholders.”

“He is so revered around the world and I know that the Biden administration has been talking with him and I know other leaders are,” Rogers added. “You can bet he is the first call of many of the major banking giants on Wall Street to make sure they’re getting his best advice and including him in these conversations.”

— Tanaya Macheel

Berkshire chocolate coins and Buffett-themed apparel in the lead-up to the meeting

Warren Buffett tours the grounds at the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting in Omaha Nebraska. 

David A. Grogan | CNBC

Called “Woodstock for Capitalists,” the multiday event kicked off on Friday with a chance for shareholders to shop the company’s many brands, which range from Dairy Queen and See’s Candies to Brooks Sports and Pampered Chef. One of its latest additions to the portfolio, the plush toy brand Squishmallows, was on colorful display for the first time.

Those attending the meaning often jump at the chance to scoop up items made specifically for the event.

-Christina Cheddar Berk

Buffett asks actress Jamie Lee Curtis to convince Munger to snap up internet stocks

Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger greeted attendees with a welcome video starring a special guest — Jamie Lee Curtis.

Buffett asked the actress to convince Munger to snap up stocks in “this something called the Internet.”

The actress made flirtatious remarks while calling both separately from her bed, affectionately referring to Buffett as “Warren all-you-can-eat buffet,” and Munger as “Charlie hunger.”

— Sarah Min

Buffett’s long-term track record: Why there are smiling faces in Omaha Saturday

Warren Buffett tours the floor ahead of the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholder’s Meeting in Omaha, NE.

David A. Grogan | CNBC

A look at Warren Buffett’s long-term track record explains the smiling faces in Omaha Saturday, many of them were made millionaires by the investing guru’s astute moves and patient value philosophy over the years.

Berkshire Hathaway’s compounded annual gain was 19.8% from 1965 through the end of last year, compared with 9.9% for the S&P 500. That’s an overall total return of 3,787,464% vs. 24,708% for the benchmark.

To be sure, more recently Buffett’s track record has matched the S&P 500. Over the last 10 years, Berkshire has returned 11% annually, about even with the S&P 500.

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Berkshire stock price long term

Oakmark Funds’ Bill Nygren learned this major lesson from Warren Buffett

Everyone can learn something from Warren Buffett — including Oakmark Funds’ Bill Nygren.

One practice that sticks out is the utilization of adjusted GAAP accounting for non-tangible assets, the value investor said during an interview with CNBC Friday.

“I think GAAP accounting was really intended for a tangible world,” he said. “You can touch and feel it, it goes on the balance sheet. If you can’t touch or feel it, expense it.”

But that setup isn’t “representative of the economics” that exist and the investments in the business world for things like research and development, and brand value.

“Those things are all on the balance sheet at zero,” Nygren said. “If you aren’t making adjustments for that as a value investor, you’re unnecessarily restricting your universe.”

Although Oakmark Funds does not own shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Nygren called it an attractive investment opportunity for many.

“Berkshire rarely exhibits the level of controversy that is required to create a really attractive value stock, but it’s a great business,” he said. “It’s extremely well run and that’s probably why it isn’t cheap enough to meet our criteria.”

— Samantha Subin

Berkshire’s auto insurer Geico pulls off a big turnaround

Display showing Gecko character for GEICO Insurance during the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholder Meeting in Omaha, Nebraska.

Yun Li | CNBC

Berkshire’s auto insurer Geico experienced a big turnaround in the first quarter, after benefiting from higher average premiums and a reduction in advertising costs. Geico posted an underwriting profit of $703 million. The auto insurer suffered a $1.9 billion pretax underwriting loss last year as it lost market share to competitor Progressive.

Ajit Jain, Berkshire’s vice chairman of insurance operations, previously said the biggest culprit for Geico’s underperformance was not keeping pace with rivals in telematics programs, which allow insurers to collect clients’ driving data, including their mileage and speed, to better price policies.

— Yun Li

Berkshire operating earnings pop in the first quarter

Berkshire's operating earnings increase 12% in the first quarter, cash hoard tops $130 billion

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway reported a 12.6% jump in operating earnings for the first quarter, driven by a rebound in the conglomerate’s insurance business.

Profit from insurance underwriting came in at $911 million, up sharply from $167 million a year prior. Insurance investment income also jumped 68% to $1.969 billion from $1.170 billion.

Berkshire’s cash hoard also swelled to $130.616 billion from $128 billion in the fourth quarter of 2022.

— Fred Imbert

Warren Buffett’s successor Greg Abel is winning over shareholders

Greg Abel, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Energy, center, during a shareholders shopping day ahead of the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S., on Friday, April 29, 2022.

Dan Brouillette | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Warren Buffett’s successor Greg Abel will be joining the Oracle of Omaha and Charlie Munger on stage Saturday, answering questions about non-insurance operations.

Abel has taken on many responsibilities at the massive conglomerate, while increasing his stake in the company, which has given shareholders hope that the culture at the company will continue.

“He does all the work, and I take the bows – it’s exactly what I wanted,” Buffett said in a CNBC interview in Japan on April 12. “He knows more about the individuals, the business, he’s seen them all. … They haven’t seen me at the BNSF Railroad for 10, 12 years or something like that.”

— Yun Li

NetJets pilots protest outside of arena, saying they’re being underpaid

A line of pilots from NetJets held a protest outside of CHI Health Center.

Yun Li

A number of pilots from Berkshire’s private jet company NetJets lined up outside of CHI Health Center as shareholders waited to get into the arena. They held signs that read “overworked” and “underpaid,” saying they were looking to renegotiate their contract. NetJets became a Berkshire subsidiary in 1998.

— Yun Li

Shareholders start lining up in downtown Omaha

Some of the people lined up at the CHI Health Center in downtown Omaha for the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting have been in the line since 2 a.m. for the event.

— Sarah Min

Berkshire Hathaway has outperformed during recessions and bear markets, Bespoke data says

Berkshire Hathaway has a history of outperforming the S&P 500 during recessions, and performing especially well during bear markets, according to data from Bespoke Investment Group. Since 1980, Berkshire shares have beat the broader market over the course of six recessions by a median of 4.41 percentage points.

Even more impressive is the stock’s performance during bear markets. During the same time period, the conglomerate outpaced the S&P 500 each time it dropped 20%, beating the broader index by a median of 14.89 percentage points. 

″[One] stock that has gained a reputation for safety is Berkshire Hathaway (BRK/A), and based on the last several decades, the distinction has been earned,” read a Bespoke note from earlier this week.

— Sarah Min

What to expect from Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger

Charlie Munger ahead of the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting in Omaha Nebraska.

David A. Grogan | CNBC

On a cloudy Saturday morning, throngs of Berkshire Hathaway shareholders are waiting in a light rain to get inside the CHI Health Center in Omaha.

The economy and the markets are always top of mind at these events, but this year’s meeting comes at a particularly challenging time. On Monday, First Republic became the third American bank to fail since March, further fueling fears that a recession is imminent. As ever, investors will look to the 92-year-old Warren Buffett for folksy wisdom in uncertain times.

Buffett promised in Berkshire’s shareholders guide to field more questions this year. With that in mind, CNBC Pro looked at what some of the most pressing topics are likely to be. Questions could range from a discussion of what types of acquisitions the company might make to what is Buffett’s outlook for the banking sector. What’s next for auto insurer Geico also could be fair game.

—Yun Li

Here’s the schedule for CNBC’s coverage of the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting

Warren Buffett tours the grounds at the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting in Omaha Nebraska. 

David A. Grogan | CNBC

CNBC will be livestreaming Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholder meeting on Saturday, beginning at 9:45 a.m. ET. Often called “Woodstock for Capitalists,” investors flock to Omaha, Nebraska, to listen to Warren Buffett’s thoughts on the market. He often recounts the many lessons he has learned during his decades of investing.

Here is a rundown of the day’s events:

9:45 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.: Pre-show hosted by Becky Quick and Mike Santoli

10:15 a.m. – 1 p.m.: Berkshire Hathaway morning Q&A session with Warren Buffett, Charlie Munger, Greg Abel and Ajit Jain

1 p.m. – 2 p.m.: Halftime show, hosted by Becky Quick and Mike Santoli

2 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.: Afternoon session of annual meeting

4:30 p.m. – 5 p.m.: Post-show anchored by Becky Quick and Mike Santoli

Note: Schedule reflects Eastern Time

—Christina Cheddar Berk

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