Editor's Note: This article was originally published on Real Money on May 6. To see Jim Cramer's latest commentary as it's published, sign up for a free trial of Real Money.
NEW YORK (Real Money) -- Was Doug Kass too soft on Warren Buffett?
I know that one of my favorites, Jason Zweig from the Wall Street Journal, says some wags offered that view.
Frankly, I think that's nonsense. In fact, this was a terrific exchange if you are thinking about buying Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B) or covering your short.First, Kass did the unthinkable. He actually questioned Buffett's mortality. He actually, without saying it out loud, questioned the notion that Buffett would live forever. No one else has EVER done that. Think about it. First, Kass made it clear that a lot of the most recent big deals, including the Goldman Sachs (GS), General Electric (GE) and Bank of America (BAC) investments, all of which we wish he had access to, happened because of the imprimatur of Buffett himself. So what happens if Buffett is not at the helm? It is entirely possible that those kinds of seat-of-the pants deals can't happen without Buffett. So why would I want to go long if he isn't there? Or do we presume he lives to 100 and everything is hunkey-dorey. Second, he asked about putting Buffett's son Howard as executive chairman, given that he has never run a company like this or made material investments. Buffett dismissed Kass totally because he said his son knows the culture. I don't know, I would prefer someone else with experience. That makes me less likely to buy the stock than, say, if Sam Palmisano were to be executive chairman or someone like Leon Cooperman, who knows the company cold (he went with Dougie to Omaha). Maybe someone who knows insurance like Jay Fishman or pipelines like Rich Kinder, or perhaps someone from his excellent board, or maybe a former CEO of Wells Fargo (WFC), a big holding. As far as breaking up the company, the notion that the fifth-largest company in the world should be just this pastiche, if not a mosaic, of unrelated companies wouldn't carry water anywhere other than with Berkshire. Nobody would put these pieces together. No one. It would make no sense. It only makes sense because Buffett put them together. No other exec could do this. No one.
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