Berkshire Hathaway's annual meeting: Follow all the action as Warren Buffett takes the stage

Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting: Follow all the action as Warren Buffett takes the stage

Berkshire has avoided new wagers on big U.S. banks after dumping shares in 2020

Warren Buffett, Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.

David A. Grogan | CNBC

Buffett has a long history of favoring banks. He helped rescue Salomon Brothers in the 1990s and swooped in again to help the industry by injecting $5 billion into Goldman Sachs in 2008 and another $5 billion into Bank of America in 2011.

So investors took note when he unloaded stakes in JPMorgan Chase, Goldman and Wells Fargo in 2020, trimming his portfolio to U.S.-centric retail lenders including Bank of America and U.S. Bancorp.

The fact that he has stayed away this year — despite loosening his purse strings for a string of recent deals and amid a pullback in bank stocks – could be a bad sign for the broader economy, some say.

“What this is telling you is, he thinks we need to batten down the hatches because we’re looking at a long cycle of inflation and probably stagnation,” said Phillip Phan, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School.

—Hugh Son

How Berkshire’s top stocks performed in April

Warren Buffett’s long-term track record is hard to argue against, but his investments are not immune to short-term volatility in the markets.

Here’s how Berkshire’s top holdings performed in a rough April for the broader stock market.

— Jesse Pound

Scenes from the pregame extravaganza

Shareholders on Friday pregamed Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting with a shopping carnival featuring goods sold by the conglomerate’s holdings.

The event is a tradition each year known as the “Berkshire Bazaar of Bargains.” Only those with a shareholder credential can participate and shop at a discount in the CHI Health Center.

Exhibits included toy trains mimicking BNSF Railway rolling stock, Berkshire chocolate coins from See’s Candies and Buffett-branded Brooks athleisure.

A woman takes a selfie in front of Berkshire Hathaway signage at the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting in Omaha, Nebraska.

David A. Grogan | CNBC

The NetJets display at the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting in Omaha, Nebraska.

David A. Grogan | CNBC

at the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting in Omaha, Nebraska. 

David A. Grogan | CNBC

The counter at See’s Candies, at the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting in Omaha, Nebraska.

David A. Grogan | CNBC

Sign advertising Capitalist card at the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting in Omaha, Nebraska.

David A. Grogan | CNBC

Warren Buffett rides in a cart at the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, April 29, 2022.

David A. Grogan | CNBC

Charles Munger at the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, April 29, 2022.

David A. Grogan | CNBC

Warren Buffett and Becky Quick at the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholder Meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, April 29, 2022.

David A. Grogan | CNBC

Charles Munger and Warren Buffet faces in Berkshire Hathaway T-Shirts at the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting in Omaha, Nebraska.

David A. Grogan | CNBC

People shopping for See’s Candies at the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting in Omaha, Nebraska.

David A. Grogan | CNBC

—Yun Li and Hannah Miao

Buffett is back in the stock-picking game after a selling streak

Before Berkshire’s recent buying spree, the Omaha-based conglomerate had been a net seller of stocks for the past five quarters as Buffett saw few bargains among surging equities.

In the second quarter of 2020, Buffett dumped his entirety of airline stakes, north of $4 billion then, as he believed the pandemic changed the industry fundamentally.

Berkshire has been a big winner in 2022

Berkshire Hathaway’s CEO Warren Buffett (L) and his business partner Vice Chairman Charles Munger answer questions at a news conference May 4, 2003 in Omaha, Nebraska.

Eric Francis | Getty Images

Shares of Berkshire Hathaway have been one of the stock market’s best bets in 2022.

The B-class shares of Warren Buffett’s conglomerate ended April up nearly 8% for the year. The S&P 500, meanwhile, has shed more than 13%.

The gain for Buffett has come despite a decline of roughly 11% for Apple, Berkshire’s top holding. The firm has benefited from big gains in energy stocks such Chevron and Occidental Petroleum. Berkshire also has large position in Coca-Cola, which has gained 9% in 2022 despite increasing concerns about a potential recession.

Despite the overall gains, Berkshire was not immune to the market downturn in April. The B-class shares dropped 8.5% over the past month.

—Jesse Pound

Berkshire earnings decline in the first quarter

Berkshire Hathaway’s first-quarter earnings declined year over year, with the stock market turmoil and weaker insurance results hurting results.

The company reported $5.46 billion in earnings, down from $11.71 billion in the year-earlier period for a decline of about 53%.

Because of Berkshire’s large investment holdings, earnings can be volatile quarter to quarter. Buffett has long said investors should focus on Berkshire’s operating earnings, which were mostly flat year over year at $7.04 billion, as a better indicator of the firm’s performance.

The pace of stock buybacks also slowed, with Berkshire spending $3.2 billion on repurchases compared with $6.9 billion in the prior quarter. The company ended March with  $106.3 billion in cash.

—Jesse Pound

Long lines at CHI Health Center

Shareholders lined up Saturday morning to enter CHI Health Center for Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting.

Shareholders lining up to get into CHI Health Center for Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting. April 30, 2022.

CNBC | Yun Li

Shareholders lining up to get into CHI Health Center for Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting. April 30, 2022.

CNBC | Yun Li

People enter the Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders Meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, April 30, 2022.

David A. Grogan | CNBC

—Yun Li and Hannah Miao

Shareholders look for Buffett’s guidance during market turmoil

Berkshire’s annual shareholder arrives at a time of heightened worry in the stock market.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite finished a rough April at their lows for the year. The broad S&P 500 suffered its worst month since March 2020, while the the tech-heavy Nasdaq had its worst month since 2008.

Berkshire also struggled in April, but its stock has been a relative safe-haven and is up nearly 8% for the year.

Buffett’s decades of experiences spans many recessions, bear markets and periods of high volatility, so his acolytes will likely be looking for his guidance on how to approach investing at this current moment.

—Jesse Pound

Buffett is putting cash to work

Berkshire Hathaway’s massive cash pile dipped to $106.3 billion at the end of the first quarter, the lowest level since the third quarter of 2018, as Warren Buffet ramped up his investment activity.

The “Oracle of Omaha” recently used $23 billion in different investments — $11.6 billion to acquire insurer Alleghany, more than $7 billion in additional investments in oil giant Occidental Petroleum and $4.2 billion for a stake in PC maker Hewlett-Packard.

What to expect from Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger

Buffett is expected to kick off Berkshire’s annual shareholder meeting on a high note, with the “Oracle of Omaha” finally back in the deal-making game and the conglomerate’s outperforming stock crossing a key milestone.

The 91-year-old chairman and CEO will be on stage with his right-hand man Charlie Munger at 98 to answer shareholder questions, following a flurry of investment activities — stakes in Occidental Petroleum and HP as well as an acquisition of Alleghany.

Here are some of the big topics shareholders will want to hear from Buffett:

  • Market outlook: The stock market has suffered a correction on fears of inflation and rising rates. How should investors navigate the volatility and a tricky economic landscape?
  • Deploying more cash: Buffett has been putting capital to work as of late. Will his buying spree continue? Is he going to pull off an “elephant-sized” deal?
  • A slowdown in buybacks: With Berkshire shares significantly outperforming, will Buffett cease or continue to slow down his aggressive buyback program?
  • Life after Buffett and Munger: Berkshire’s succession plan
  • China, crypto, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and more

— Yun Li

Here’s the schedule for CNBC’s coverage of the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting

CNBC: 2022 BHASM: Becky Quick at the Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders Meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, April 29, 2022.

David A. Grogan | CNBC

CNBC will be livestreaming Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholder meeting on Saturday, beginning at 9:45 a.m. ET. Viewers can expect a lively discussion regarding Warren Buffett’s view of the market, Berkshire’s plans to spend its cash and other key topics.

Here is a rundown of the day’s events:

9:45 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.: Pre-show anchored by Becky Quick and Mike Santoli

10:15 a.m. – 1 p.m.: Morning session of annual meeting

1 p.m. – 2 p.m.: Halftime show anchored by Becky Quick and Mike Santoli

2 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.: Afternoon session of annual meeting

4:30 p.m. – 4:45 p.m.: Post-show anchored by Becky Quick and Mike Santoli

4:45 p.m.: Formal Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting

Post-meeting coverage: Final thoughts live from Omaha, Nebraska, with Becky Quick and Mike Santoli

Note: Schedule reflects Eastern Time

—Christina Cheddar Berk

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