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Berkshire Meeting: Buffett Says Little on Succession

OMAHA ( TheStreet) -- Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B - Get Report) CEO Warren Buffett gave no new hints about the company's succession plan during its annual shareholder meeting on Saturday.

Twice during the entertaining event, the 82-year old billionaire evaded direct questions seeking he announce a successor.

When asked by a shareholder about announcing a successor, Buffett did not disclose the name of Berkshire Hathaway's (BRK.A - Get Report) next CEO and, instead, reiterated comments that the company's board of directors has already been informed of a replacement.

Also see: Berkshire Hathaway Shareholder Meeting: Blog Recap

"It will be the same thing and you can count on that," Buffett said of Berkshire's culture after he leaves.

Other hot topics at the conglomerate's packed shareholder meeting included acquisitions, the global economy, the state of the banking industry and Federal Reserve policies.

Also see: Berkshire Toughens Stance on Derivatives of Mass Destruction

Buffett and Berkshire vice chairman Charles Munger provided plenty of colorful moments, including a disagreement on the state of the U.S. banking industry.

They both also gave only muted signs of excitement for Berkshire's push into international markets such as Europe and Asia.

"If you told us that we could only invest in the United States the rest of our lives, we would not view that as a huge hardship," Buffett said.

Also see: Buffett's Cherry Coke Walk & Talk

On Friday, Berkshire beat earnings expectations on strong performance from operating units such as BNSF Railways

"It was a benign quarter in insurance, but our other businesses did quite well," Buffett said of Berkshire's earnings at the shareholder meeting. "We have been very lucky that a lot of oil has been found close to our railroad tracks," he added, of BNSF earnings.

Buffett did a strong job portraying the performance of Berkshire's operating subsidiaries, for instance, BNSF Railways, according to William Smead, chief investment officer of Smead Capital.

At the meeting, Buffett and Munger appeared hesitant to project Berkshire's earnings in a faster growing economy said Smead. "I was surprised by the lack of the probabilities they laid out for an improving economy," he said.

Buffett also picked Seabreeze Partners President and Real Money Pro contributor Doug Kass to make the case for shorting shares of Berkshire Hathaway.

Kass pressed Buffett on issues such as succession, the ability to grow a company as big as Berkshire, and the firm's ability to quickly cut profitable deals with firms in need of capital.

"Doug Kass provided a little spice. Although being the devils advocate in that situation, it was an impossible role," Smead said. Kass "raised some interesting points and drew some good responses," he added.
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