By WSJ Staff
Perhaps never before have so many blue blazers gathered together in one place at one time. Berkshire Hathaway expects 35,000 people to attend its annual meeting today in Omaha, Neb. Not surprisingly, a large contingent has adopted the trademark outfit of Berkshire’s billionaire chairman, Warren Buffett.
There’s an air of a pilgrimage to the event. Mr. Buffett is, after all, known as the Oracle of Omaha. As the sun rose over Omaha on a chilly morning, thousands of shareholders lined up outside the Qwest Center, where the meeting is held. Many streamed into the meeting’s expansive exhibit hall, where Berkshire lays out a display of products made by its vast empire of companies. From Dairy Queen Dilly Bars to the Geico Gekko, from See’s Candies boxed chocolates to Fruit of the Loom underwear to an entire mobile home made by Clayton Homes, Berkshire’s companies are in many ways a rich slice of Americana.
But there are clouds over the company. Berkshire has just gone through its worst year ever, as its book value per share fell by 9.6%. Berkshire’s shares are down about one-third since September, cutting into the pocket books of many investors gathered in Omaha today.
The meeting begins at 8:30 Central Time (9:30 ET), with a movie about the company. At about 9:30, Mr. Buffett and Berkshire’s vice chairman, Charles Munger, will take the stage for what’s expect to amount to a five or six hour marathon session of questions and answers. Right now, Berkshire is conducting a lottery for shareholders who would like to ask questions.
Stay tuned. WSJ.com will provide updates on all the excitement as it unfolds throughout the day, including choice quotes from Messrs. Buffett and Munger.
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