8 coisas que aprendemos com a reunião de 2022 da Berkshire Hathaway

1.Os ganhos da Berkshire caíram 53%, mas não realmente.

O número manchete do primeiro trimestre de 2022 foi um declínio nos lucros de US$ 11,71 bilhões no ano passado para US$ 5,46 bilhões este ano. Aprofunde-se um pouco mais nos números, no entanto, e você perceberá por que Warren Buffett criticou uma regra contábil que exige que a Berkshire relate ganhos e perdas de investimentos não realizados em sua demonstração de operações.

Os lucros operacionais da Berkshire aumentaram ano após ano. No primeiro trimestre de 2021, as operações da empresa renderam US$ 7,018 bilhões (após impostos). Nos primeiros três meses de 2022, faturou US$ 7,040 bilhões. As “perdas” vêm dos investimentos. No ano passado, a Berkshire relatou um “ganho” de US$ 4.693 bilhões em investimentos. Este ano, registrou uma “perda” de US$ 1.580 bilhões.

2. A Transição Começou

Warren e Charlie não estavam sozinhos no palco. Eles se juntaram a Ajit Jain e Greg Abel. Jain dirige as operações de seguros na Berkshire. Abel é CEO da Berkshire Hathaway Energy e vice-presidente de operações não relacionadas a seguros na Berkshire. Este é o segundo ano que eles estão no palco. O primeiro ano durante uma reunião ao vivo.

Com base em comentários anteriores de Charlie Munger e posteriormente confirmados, Greg Abel substituirá Warren Buffett algum dia. Caso ele não estivesse disponível, Ajit Jain assumiria o comando. Para mim, é bom ver a próxima geração de gestão no palco. Os acionistas migram para Omaha para ouvir Buffett e Munger. Francamente, minha esperança é que ouçamos mais e mais de Abel e Jain.

Buffett não perdeu o senso de humor
Ele começou a reunião observando que Charlie Munger e ele têm 190 anos combinados. Charlie tem 98 anos, Buffett tem 91. Buffett observou que, se alguém na faixa dos 90 anos estivesse administrando um de seus negócios, ele gostaria de vê-lo de vez em quando.

Ele também brincou que havia começado um boato de que ele era a dama da ilustração nas caixas de See’s Candy. Embora reconhecesse a semelhança, ele se perguntou se o boato teria sido iniciado por um concorrente.

3. Buffett Can’t Predict the Future

As he’s said many times before, Buffett can’t predict the future. He said he can’t predict future earnings or future stock market performance. He can’t predict the economy, either. Investors should listen.

I watch more financial news than I should, which is to say, I watch financial news. It’s filled with interviews of prognosticators. Some of these fortune tellers run hedge funds or ETFs. Others teach at a college. While still others are authors, TV personalities or YouTube stars.

If their predictions have any value, it’s to learn something about them, not what they are predicting. They are best ignored.

4. Cash is King

Buffett reiterated that they believe in holding lots of cash. And here he distinguished Treasury bills from commercial paper. The former is cash, the latter is not.

They do spend a lot of cash in short periods of time. In the first quarter Berkshire spent more than $40 billion in investments. Its big day was on March 4, when they invested $4.6 billion. Yet they still hold more than $100 billion in cash.

My thoughts went to Michael Saylor and how he has leveraged Microstrategy to own Bitcoin BTC -1.2%. From comments he’s made, he doesn’t plan to invest Bitcoin into productive assets at some point in the future. Bitcoin is the point. I wonder if he’ll change his tune when his company’s debt is due.

5. They are Still no Fans of Bitcoin

Charlie Munger described what he called a “mania of speculation.” He noted that we have a system that combines wild speculation with legitimate, long-term investing. And those comments were not directed at Bitcoin. With Bitcoin, both Buffett and Munger continued their attack on crypto.

In response to a question, Munger explained what an investor should do if their money manager called up and recommended they invest in Bitcoin for their retirement. Don’t do it.

6. Ajit Jain is Extraordinary

Jain’s response to a question comparing Progressive PGR +1.9% to GEICO is a masterclass in how a business leader should answer a tough shareholder question. He didn’t duck the question or sugarcoat his answer.

In short, Progressive’s use of telematics has enabled it to outperform GEICO in the recent past. Telematics refers to technology auto insurance companies use to assess a customer’s driving habits. By better understanding how an individual drives, an insurance company can more accurately determine risk. Progressive has been using telematics successfully. GEICO has not.

It’s not the first time Jain has had to address this question. The same question came up last year. They still have work to do, but they are making progress.

And if that weren’t enough, Jain gave an excellent response about assessing the insurance risk of a nuclear attack. In short, it can’t be done.

7. Robinhood’s Fall is Well Deserved

I’ve never been a fan of Robinhood. It promotes trading strategies that in my view are not in the best interests of investors. It turns out that Charlie Munger takes an even dim view of the investment app.

“It’s so easy to overdo a good idea. … Look what happened to Robinhood from its peak to its trough. Wasn’t that pretty obvious that something like that was going to happen?” Munger said. He called it “disgusting” and noted that now “it’s unraveling. God is getting just.”

This is a developing story, and I’ll update this article as the meeting continues.

8. Issues with Index Fund Investing

Buffett and Munger addressed two issues with index fund investing. The first involves the fact that index fund managers vote the shares by proxy, not the individual shareholders of the funds. As index funds take about 50% of the share of public companies, proxy voting becomes more and more of a concern. Both Buffett and Munger agreed this is a problem, although no solutions were discussed in detail.

The second issue was identified in a passing reference by Munger. He noted that index fund investing has worked well for investors. But then he stated that if index funds controlled 90% of the market, this could change. Although he didn’t elaborate, I suspect he’s referring to the lack of price discovery if index funds controlled most of the market. At present, it’s a theoretical concern, but one not to lose sight of.

Rober Berger — FORBES / Tradução: DUO DIGITAL

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