A look at share prices signals what is likely to be a celebratory mood at the annual shareholders’ meeting for Berkshire Hathaway this weekend. The price of a share in Warren Buffett’s conglomerate has increased by 12 percent since the beginning of the year.
After a weak phase, the legendary investor is returning to his old successes once again. The Berkshire share is performing significantly better than the broad S&P 500 share index, which has only managed to add 2 percent so far this year.
Mr. Buffett seems confident. “Last year was a good year,” he wrote in late February in his annual letter to shareholders, noting that the outlook for the U.S. economy was better than ever.
One shareholder, however, will cause a stir at the annual meeting. The Nebraska Peace Foundation is urging Berkshire to list the risks climate change poses to the group’s insurance division. To this end, the foundation has submitted a proposal that will be up for a vote at the meeting. As a reinsurer, the conglomerate faces particularly large risks.
But the Berkshire chief executive takes a relaxed view of the proposal, which he advises shareholders to vote against. While it is “highly likely” that climate change constitutes a great risk for the planet, he said, he isn’t worried about his company. “Insurance policies are calculated for each individual case, and prices are adjusted every year,” Mr. Buffett said.
The 85-year-old, who has headed Berkshire since 1965, enjoys broad support among shareholders. At the annual meetings, dubbed the “Woodstock for Capitalists” because of their festival-like atmosphere, Mr. Buffett and his second-in-command, Charlie Munger, are treated like rock stars. In the last 50 years, the two men have transformed Berkshire from a troubled textile manufacturer to one of America’s largest corporations.