Updated from 8:09 a.m. ET on May 2, with a preview of Berkshire Hathaway's first-quarter financial results and additional information throughout.
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Berkshire Hathaway's (BRK.B) shares continue to hit new record highs, as investors await the next big move by the Warren Buffett-run conglomerate, heading into the company's shareholder meeting Saturday.
Berkshire Hathaway's annual meeting, the "Woodstock for Capitalists" as Buffett has said, will provide investors context on the strength of the U.S. and global economic recovery, while also giving shareholders an update on the direction of America's fifth largest company by market capitalization.
Investors are likely to celebrate a 30% rise in the shares of Berkshire Hathaway to new record highs in the past year on gains in the company's $90-billion plus investment portfolio and earnings growth in operating units such as BNSF Railways, MidAmerican Energy and its insurance business, among over 80 subsidiaries.Class-A shares of Berkshire Hathaway opened Friday trading above $163,000, a new record for the company. The Berkshire celebration, however, will also carry somber undertones as investors seek clarity on succession plans for Warren Buffett, the 82-year old investor commonly known as the "Oracle of Omaha." Particularly Scrooge-like Berkshire investors, may want to know who will succeed Buffett and how that will impact financial decisions such as returns of cash to shareholders by way of dividends and share buybacks, as has happened with Apple (AAPL) since the passing of Steve Jobs. For now, investors' eyes will be trained on Omaha, Neb., for Buffett's outlook on making investments in 2013, and any updates on how he plans to run Berkshire Hathaway in coming years. "I'd be curious and I would hope we have a chance to hear more about Warren's appetite globally," Thomas Russo, a partner at Gardner, Russo & Gardner, says of his expectations heading into Berkshire's shareholder meeting. Buffett detailed in Berkshire's annual shareholder letter that the company made about $10 billion in capital expenditures in the U.S. in 2012, 88% of the conglomerate's overall capex, amid rising expectations of economic recovery. "We will keep our foot to the floor and will almost certainly set still another record for capital expenditures in 2013. Opportunities abound in America," Buffett wrote, in the shareholder letter. "I am just curious why he has softened his hunt for global elephants," Russo said, highlighting Berkshire's lack of commentary or activity in international markets, in recent years. Gardner, Russo & Gardner is Berkshire's tenth largest shareholder with a stake of nearly $800 million in the company's Class A shares and over $200 million of Class B shares, according to Bloomberg data. Russo says Berkshire holding's represent about 11% of the firm's assets. On Wednesday, Berkshire said it would buy a remaining 20% stake in Israel-based IMC International Metalworking Companies for $2.05 billion. Berkshire took an 80% stake in the company at a valuation of $5 billion in 2005, and since then has enjoyed a surge in IMC's earnings. "I think he will be willing to talk about big deals around the world," Whitney Tilson of Kase Capital said of Buffett's international deal making. "He is trying to replicate Iscar," added Tilson, referencing IMC. After a February acquisition of Heinz (HNZ), the iconic ketchup maker, Buffett has said he's ready to put the Berkshire pro-forma cash stockpile of over $30 billion to work in large acquisitions. "
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