NEW YORK (TheStreet) --This year's Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) (BRK.B) annual meeting marks the 50th anniversary of Warren Buffett running the company he made famous. According to Carol Loomis, a veteran journalist with Fortune and a longtime Buffett friend, it's a unique occasion.
"Who would believe that 40,000 people -- which I think is about how many they're going to have today -- would come here to spend hours listening to a guy who's 84, and another one who's 90, and loving it?" asked Loomis, author of Tap Dancing to Work: Warren Buffett on Practically Everything, 1966-2012.
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Buffett loves the event, she said, but it won't be easy for him or Berkshire Vice Chairman Charlie Munger to deal with interrogations from journalists, analysts and people from the crowd whose questions are a "totally wild card," she said.
What keeps him going? "He loves doing it," Loomis said. "He says 'I'm having fun.' He wouldn't be doing it if he wasn't having fun. It's certainly not money that drives him. It never has been money."
Although the book value of Berkshire has underperformed the S&P 500, that's not a sign Buffett is slipping. "Book value of a company like Berkshire, which has made acquisition after acquisition, just totally doesn't define the company anymore," Loomis said. When Berkshire buys a company, even if Berkshire improves that asset's value markedly, that's not reflected in Berkshire's numbers until the company is sold. So the book value of the holding company is a poor measure of its true worth.
As for who would succeed him, Loomis refused to speculate. "If I knew, I wouldn't tell," she said.