Buffett Defends Cokes No Vote at the Berkshire Hathaway Meeting

At the annual Berkshire Hathaway meeting, Warren Buffett mentioned that “going to war” over the executive pay issue at Coca-Cola would not have been a productive thing to do. He said that his abstention sent the clear message that he desired. He also dismisses worry over growth at Berkshire Hathaway.

About 40,000 Berkshire Hathaway shareholders gathered this weekend in Omaha, Nebraska to listen to the Oracle of Omaha speak about the business world, Berkshire Hathaway and the United States of America.

While speaking during a question-and-answer session in a massive hall at the annual event which Buffett appropriately calls the “Woodstock for Capitalists,” the big time investor answered many questions about BNSF railroad, Coca-Cola and his competitors.

Buffett was in full defense mode about abstaining from a vote on Coca-Cola executive pay, where Berkshire Hathaway owns roughly 400,000,000 shares, which equates to a 9.1% stake. Buffett chose not to vote on a plan that he mentioned was excessive, but he also felt that “going to war” would not have been very productive, and Reuters reports that his abstention sent the clear message that he desired.

After being asked about BNSF railroad weather-related disruptions, the largest player in the very prosperous oil by rail business, Buffett handed off the question to Matt Rose, a Burlington Northern Santa Fe executive. “We’re making significant investments,” said Rose. Buffett also said that Berkshire has the option to invest “many billions” in order to improve operations.

Just last year, Berkshire Hathaway missed its five-year growth target for the first time in Buffett’s 49 years as an investor. Buffett easily brushed off these concerns, however, stating that Berkshire performs the best when the markets are at its worst, and last year the market jumped 30% in the S&P 500.

“Over any cycle we will over perform, but there’s no guarantee on that,” said Buffett.

The famous Canadian singer Paul Anka also showed up, and he and Buffett shared a duet, singing “My Way,” reported the New York Times.

“Who needs the gym/When I sit next to him [pointing to Mr. Anka]/I feel younger!” sang the 83-year-old Buffett.

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