Buffett's firm plans online event after reporting US$50B loss


"Thank you Dr, Fauci", Buffett said during his opening remarks for the Berkshire Hathaway's annual shareholder meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, on Saturday.

Berkshire said in its filing the first-quarter net loss totaled $US49.75 billion, reflecting $US54.52 billion of losses from investments, mainly common stocks.

"But we faced tougher problems, and the American miracles, American magic has always prevailed and it will do so again".

"The world has changed for airlines, and I wish them all the best", he said. Edward Jones analyst Jim Shanahan said it was striking that Buffett didn't find any bargains to invest in at the end of the first quarter.

Berkshire has been among the biggest shareholders in the four largest U.S. airlines - American, Delta, Southwest and United.

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett on Saturday said the United States' capacity to withstand crises provides a silver lining as it combats the coronavirus, even as he acknowledged that the global pandemic could significantly damage the economy and his investments.

What he's saying: "And it turned out I was wrong about that business because of something that was not in any way the fault of four excellent CEOs".

While quarterly operating profit rose 6%, several larger businesses including the BNSF railroad posted declines, hurt by the negative impact of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

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"It is basically that we shut off air travel in this country", he said.

The disclosure was among the most significant at the annual meeting, which was notable for its different feel this year as the event that usually draws tens of thousands was hosted virtually.

"It's going to be a odd annual meeting", said Andy Kilpatrick, a retired stockbroker who wrote a Buffett biography and has attended every annual meeting since 1985. Abel lives closer to Omaha than Munger and Jain.

"I know America is going to move forward over time", he said.

Buffett's eldest son Howard would likely become non-executive chairman, and portfolio managers Todd Combs and Ted Weschler could succeed Buffett as chief investment officer.

Berkshire Hathaway's annual meeting will be livestreamed and will include an abbreviated version of the question-and-answer session Buffett normally leads.

The smaller operations cut salaries and furloughed workers, and retailers such as See's sweets and Nebraska Furniture Mart closed stores.

"We haven't done anything because we don't see anything that attractive to do". He also told shareholders that the Berkshire Hathaway holding had taken a series of actions in connection with the pandemic and assured that he was still interested in making a major acquisition, which has not happened since 2016.