Many investors -- and value investors in particular -- consider it the pilgrimage of a lifetime to head to Omaha, Neb., in the late spring. Their destination? The annual meeting for Motley Fool Inside Value star Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A ) (NYSE: BRK-B ) .
This year's meeting takes place tomorrow in Omaha's Qwest Center, and investors from all walks of life will gather to pepper Warren Buffett and his business partner Charlie Munger with questions on a whole host of topics. Berkshire subsidiaries, from GEICO to Nebraska Furniture Mart, will be on hand with displays and discount deals for shareholders. Borsheim's, Berkshire's jewelry business, will even be serving up a cocktail reception tonight. Many shareholders, meanwhile, will trek to Buffett's favorite restaurant, Gorat's, where the Oracle's signature order is a T-bone, rare, with a double order of hash browns and a Cherry Coke.
If you can't make it to the big event, fear not! The Fool has sent yours truly to the land of steaks and corn to join the other 20,000-plus attendees and keep you abreast of the happenings. On Saturday, keep your eyes on Fool.com to read my live coverage.
For the uninitiated, Berkshire Hathaway is the multi-faceted dynasty that investing superhero Warren Buffett set in motion back in 1965 when he took control of a struggling textile company. Over the 41 years from 1965 to 2006, Berkshire Hathaway's annual increase in book value has beaten the S&P 500 index on all but a handful of occasions, and in the aggregate has trounced the index by a considerable margin.
On tap this year
Buffett always gets asked general questions such as what makes a good manager, how Berkshire makes asset-allocation decisions, what publications he reads, and what his outlook is for the stock market. Some other timely topics sure to come up include:
- Housing. Buffett and Munger had long warned about the growing residential real estate bubble. Now that homebuilders are hurting and nonconforming lenders are on the canvas, investors will likely want Buffett's thoughts on how long the pain will last.
- Buyouts. If it's not another massive, multibillion-dollar buyout, it's more talk about buyout funds and other alternative-asset managers going public. With TXU (NYSE: TXU ) leading the pack and set to become the target of the largest private-equity buyout in history, and other firms darting an amorous eye toward the public markets, questions on these topics are bound to arise.
- Sudan. At the end of 2006, Berkshire owned 1.3% of PetroChina (NYSE: PTR ) , a massive, China-based oil and natural gas player. There is a shareholder resolution up for vote that would force Berkshire to sell its stake, and invitations to the annual meeting have been offered to non-shareholder protestors. Some have alleged that PetroChina has connections to Sudan and is contributing to the genocide there, but Berkshire holds that PetroChina has no direct involvement in Sudan and that selling its stake wouldn't make things better there.
Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer may not be in line to take Buffett's place at Berkshire, but he's happy enough that he'll be in line to get into the Qwest Center Saturday morning. He does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. Don't you worry, The Fool's disclosure policy will follow Matt all the way to Omaha and keep a close eye on him there.