Omaha, Here I Come!
This morning I was surprised, honored and flattered to have Warren Buffett invite me to be the "credentialed bear" on a panel at Berkshire Hathaway's (BRK.A - Get Report)/ (BRK.B - Get Report) annual meeting in Omaha during the first week of May.Here is the tape of the Oracle offering me this role on CNBC's "Squawk Box" this morning. Let me explain the events that led up to the invite. As I have done over the past few decades on a certain late-winter Saturday morning (ever since I was a graduate student at Wharton), I woke up this Saturday and read Warren Buffett's letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders (see page 23). In that letter Mr. Buffett wrote:
Finally -- to spice things up -- we would like to add to the panel a credentialed bear on Berkshire, preferably one who is short the stock. Not yet having a bear identified, we would like to hear from applicants. The only requirement is that you be an investment professional and negative on Berkshire. The three analysts will bring their own Berkshire-specific questions and alternate with the journalists and the audience in asking them.Upon reading this, I emailed CNBC's Andrew Ross Sorkin and Becky Quick and asked them if they would be kind enough to forward a letter I wrote on Saturday that basically threw my hat in the Oracle's ring as that "credentialed bear." I included in the email to Mr. Buffett my curriculum vitae and a column I wrote in March 2008 that explained the rationale behind why I was short Berkshire's shares back then almost five years ago. (It turned out to be a successful short and, surprisingly, for the right reasons.) As well, I included references for Mr. Buffett of four hedge-hoggers and investment managers who were acquaintances of his, whom I knew he respected and whom were familiar with my body of work. Andrew and Becky were really nice and forwarded my email to Mr. Buffett over the weekend, and the rest, as they say, is history. I had absolutely no idea the invitation would be forthcoming and found out like everyone else while watching "Squawk Box" with Joe and Becky this morning! Here are several recounts of the story of Mr. Buffett's invitation by Bloomberg, The Wall Street Journal and Nasdaq. I am going to Disneyland -- I mean, Omaha! And in Omaha I will be Daniel in the Lion's Den, wading in a sea of Warren Buffett's strongest admirers. But I will be up to the challenge. Stay tuned -- literally!