This Day On The Street
Continue to site right-arrow
ADVERTISEMENT
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
TheStreet Open House

Doug Kass Questions the Berkshire Boys (Update 5)

Stocks in this article: BRK.ABRK.BGSBACGE

OMAHA ( TheStreet) -- 3:50 p.m. EDT

The sixth and final question that Doug Kass asked Buffett was about why he chose his son Howard Buffett to become the executive chairman once Warren is gone. Kass pointed to Howard's lack of experience as a risk to the future of the company. Howard has never run a large diversified business; he has never made material stock investments or worked on a major acquisition.

Buffett explained that Howard was chosen to protect the future of the company. In the event that a mistake is made in who is chosen as CEO of the company, Howard's responsibility will be to right that situation. Howard's job would not be to run the business. Buffett noted that he believed it would be significantly unlikely that the wrong person would be chosen.

Also see: Buffett's Next 5 Years and Berkshire Hathaway for the Ages

Howard cares about the business and has a vested interest in protecting Berkshire and its culture. Buffett said of his son, "He has no illusions at all about running the business. He won't get paid for running the business."

There are plenty of mediocre CEOs running the companies that shouldn't be, and when they are in a chairman role, it's hard to change that situation. Buffett wants to make sure that doesn't happen to Berkshire.

Charlie chimed in at the end, saying that "the board owns a lot of stock -- we're not trying to screw it up for the shareholders."

3:09 p.m. EDT update

Doug told me at the lunch break that question No. 5 would be a doozy, and it was.

He point blank asked Buffett for $100 million to run a short fund for Berkshire. He pointed to the success Todd Combs, who (along with Ted Weschler) helps to manage investments for Berkshire, had with short selling prior to joining Berkshire. Kass was building the case that Combs was hired by Buffett on that success and it may be time for him to give short selling another shot.

Also see: Warren Buffett Walks Exhibit Hall

Buffett stuck to his guns against short selling and denied Kass the job. He informed Kass that Combs didn't get the job from his success as a short seller.

Buffett said, "I have identified companies in the past that were far overpriced and have identified many frauds."

That being said, Munger noted that "shorting is a game that doesn't appeal to us."

2:51 p.m. EDT

Doug Kass asked question No. 4: "Are you at the point now where the game interests you more than the score?"

To which Buffett replied, "I think you have to love something to do it well."

Buffett notes that the intensity is not manifest every minute but it is still there.

Warren goes on to argue that just because Berkshire is investing in a different way than it has in the past does not mean that the passion has been lost -- and to see things that way, he scolded Doug, is incorrect. He emphasized that his intensity level is equal to what it was 40 years ago and that he hopes to keep it going for at least 10 more years.

Also see: Berkshire Hathaway Shareholder Meeting: Live Blog

Kass mentions the near-forensic due diligence that Buffett did for his first investment in American Express (AXP) and comments that recently Warren made an investment in Bank of America from his bathtub.

Buffett's response: "I don't have to learn it a second time," referring to getting a handle on American Express's business. He also cited Geico as helping him to understand multiple rounds of investment in American Express.

"The passion has not gone, I promise you," Buffett concluded.

12:33 p.m. EDT update

1 of 3

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
DOW 17,378.91 +183.49 1.07%
S&P 500 0.00 -2.75 -0.14%
NASDAQ 4,628.3510 +62.2130 1.36%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs