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Fun and Fireworks at Annual Meetings

Stocks in this article: CBRL BRKA BH

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) annual meeting, coming up in early May, has become the stuff of legends, and is not your typical shareholder gathering. This is a weekend event, attended by thousands, complete with a reception, 5K, picnic, and exclusive shareholder shopping at a Berkshire owned company (Borsheims), and "Steak Night." Most if not all other annual meetings pale in comparison to this event, and are typically not well attended by shareholders.

One that is well-attended, however, especially given the size of the company, is the Biglari Holdings (BH) annual meeting, coming April 4 in NYC. I try not to miss this meeting; and this year should prove to be especially interesting.

Biglari Holdings has been embroiled in a fairly well publicized battle with Cracker Barrel (CBRL) , haven taken a 20% stake in the country dining chain. Biglari Holdings CEO Sardar Biglari has not minced words about the greater transparency and changes he wants to see at Cracker Barrel; and he has failed so far to obtain seats on the board of directors.

That's where the story starts to get interesting. In previous columns I've discussed the fact that Biglari Holdings' Cracker Barrel stake represents a large portion of the company's market cap; and that number continues to rise. As of yesterday's close, Biglari Holdings, which has a $472 million market cap, owned $372 million worth of Cracker Barrel. Quite interestingly, Cracker Barrel shares have risen more than 40% over the past year, and are trading at an all-time high. Meanwhile, Biglari Holdings shares are down 5% during the same period. And it's not as if Biglari obtained all of its' CBRL stake, over the past year; at this time last year, it already owned about 14.5% of the company, worth about $190 million. BH Chart BH data by YCharts
CBRL Chart CBRL data by YCharts

Without a doubt, price performance of Biglari shares has been disappointing the past couple of years. It tells me that the company may be either misunderstood, underfollowed or both. The fact that it trades for nearly $400 a share may not help matters, either. The company had been pursuing a dual share class structure, with the prospect of a lower priced/lower voting rights Class B share, but has delayed the actual shareholder vote twice. A special meeting on the issue set for December was canceled and it's been crickets on the issue ever since.

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