This morning marked the beginning of the annual extravaganza that is the Berkshire Hathaway
I got the opportunity to wander around the exhibition hall before the gates opened to shareholders. If you've ever been to a trade show, you can picture the scene -- booths set up all over the hall, all staffed by eager salespeople. The only difference here is that Berkshire owns every company that's represented, from NetJets to Fruit of the Loom, Clayton Homes, Dairy Queen, and, of course, Nebraska Furniture Mart.
Near the Justin Boots display -- which actually included two huge steers inside a pen! -- Warren Buffett was holding court with the press. I had the opportunity to make my way through the melee and ask the Oracle himself a couple of questions.
Buffett on young investors
Given the number of youthful shareholders running around the exhibit hall, I asked Buffett for his thoughts on what young investors should be doing with their money. He started by cautioning that even though youngsters need to learn good financial habits early on, not all of them should be getting involved in investing, even if they do have a keen interest in stocks -- just as he did at an early age. He suggested it's just as important that young people understand, for example, that "credit cards can cost you a lot of money," and he said he's currently working on a cartoon series with DiC Entertainment Chief Executive Andy Heyward that will be aimed at educating the young on good financial habits.
Buffett on private equity
I then asked Buffett for his thoughts on the private-equity boom. He acknowledged that a lot of people with a lot of money are looking to make massive acquisitions, and he noted that the situation is creating greater competition for Berkshire, which itself is trying to make increasingly large purchases that can still move the company's needle.
The difference between Berkshire and the private-equity shops, Buffett said, is motivation. While private-equity firms are motivated primarily by the fees they collect for raising funds and investing, he said, Berkshire is motivated by finding great businesses such as Coca-Cola
Warren kept his comments brief and didn't mention how long he thought the private-equity boom might last, but I fully expect that we'll hear more about this topic during the upcoming Q&A session.
At roughly 6:50 a.m., one of the many people working at the Qwest Center for the event ran through the exhibit hall and yelled, "They're opening the doors early. We're going to get bum-rushed!"
And the party was on.
Go back to Matt's original report to keep up with the news as it unfolds from the annual meeting.
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Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. You can visit Matt on the Fool's CAPS service, or check out his CAPS blog. The Fool's disclosure policy always enjoys a good Omaha steak.
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