Berkshire Hathaway will broadcast this year's annual meeting online for the first time



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OMAHA, Nebraska — Now anyone with an Internet connection will be able to watch Warren Buffett dispense his investing insights.

Berkshire Hathaway is streaming its annual meeting online for the first time ever this spring. That will make it easier for people to see Buffett and Berkshire Vice Chairman Charlie Munger spend several hours answering questions.

Berkshire's Chief Financial Officer Marc Hamburg confirmed the change to the Omaha World-Herald. Berkshire officials didn't immediately respond to questions about the move from the AP on Monday.

The all-day meeting serves as the centerpiece of what Buffett likes to call "Woodstock for Capitalists." The days before and after the main event are filled with social gatherings, investment conferences and shopping at some of Berkshire's subsidiaries.

The meeting arena is attached to a 200,000-square-foot exhibit hall filled with displays selling Berkshire's See's Candy, Dairy Queen ice cream, explaining BNSF railroad's operations and highlighting some of the company's roughly 90 subsidiaries. This year's meeting will be held on April 30, when admirers are again expected to mob Buffett like a rock star.

Last May, more than 40,000 people from around the globe filled an Omaha arena and several overflow rooms for the meeting as Buffett and Munger celebrated 50 years of leading the conglomerate.

Most of the people who attend will keep coming back because of the extracurricular activities, said investor Andy Kilpatrick, who wrote "Of Permanent Value: The Story of Warren Buffett."

"I think the people that have been before enjoy the meeting and want to see their friends," Kilpatrick said.

For some people, the Berkshire meeting has become something of an annual reunion with friends.

Streaming the meeting online is a good move for Berkshire because it had become hard for people to get a seat in the main arena for the event, said George Morgan, a finance professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and a former investment adviser.

Many shareholders had to wait for the crowd to thin out at the lunch break before finding a seat in the main room.

Morgan said streaming will help more people see the meeting.

"He wants to make it available for everybody," Morgan said.

Buffett likes to use his public appearances and annual letters to shareholders to educate people about investing and the lessons he's learned while running Berkshire.

The conglomerate owns an eclectic mix of companies, including insurance, utilities, railroad, manufacturing and retail firms. Berkshire also holds significant stakes in Coca-Cola, Wells Fargo, American Express, IBM and other companies.


Follow Josh Funk online at http://www.twitter.com/funkwrite


Online:

Berkshire Hathaway Inc.: http://www.berkshirehathaway.com

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