You were interested, in the old days, of knowing the slightest minutia about a company. You once said in characterizing Ben Rosner, "Intensity is the price of excellence." Your research style seems to have morphed over time from a sleuth-like analysis -- American Express ( AXP) comes to mind, when you hired Henry Brandt (father of Ruane, Cunniff & Goldfarb's Jonathan on today's panel!); you and he conducted weeks of analysis, in site visits and channel checks. Now, not so much in later investments. As an example, you famously thought of making the Bank of America ( BAC) investment in your bathtub. There is an investment message of this transformation from being intense to less intense. Would you please explain the degree it has to do with the market, Berkshire's size or other factors? A: Warren responded by saying that he finds running Berkshire to be the most interesting thing to do. "I have every bit of the intensity, though it's not manifested in the same way," he said. "I love thinking about Berkshire, about its investments, about its business. It's a part of me." Charlie said, "It research is all cumulative." In response to my Bank of America/bathtub reference, Warren quipped, "The bathtub wasn't the most important part!"
Question No. 5 -- A Short-Selling Challenge
Q: Warren, I am asking this next question because in the past you have been open to inviting your audience to apply for jobs. In 2002, you suggested that shareholders (who thought they were eligible) send in their qualifications if they were interested in seeking a seat on your Board, and, again, in your 2006 letter, you advertised for a successor to Lou Simpson (former portfolio manager for Geico who retired in 2010). "Send me your resume," you said at the time. In the past, you have discussed your views of short selling. You have cited that stocks tend to rise over time, and you have expressed concerns regarding the asymmetry of reward vs. risk. By contrast, the last 15 years has demonstrated that short selling can be value-additive when done by professionals -- for example, I believe Todd Combs had success as a short-seller before you hired him.