Thousands of people fill arena to hear from Warren Buffett

Markets Associated Press

Listening to Warren Buffett never gets old to the thousands of Berkshire Hathaway shareholders who are filling an arena to listen to the billionaire investor at the company's annual meeting on Saturday.

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The chance to hear Buffett and Berkshire Vice Chairman Charlie Munger field questions for more than five hours is again expected to attract more than 30,000 people to Omaha, Nebraska.

Dave Mueller flew out from Denver, Colorado, for his fourth meeting to hear the 86-year-old Buffett and 93-year-old Munger. Buffett often spends several minutes explaining complex topics in plain terms before Munger cuts to the heart of a topic in a few words.

"I just love hearing them answer questions," Mueller, 70, said. "And Charlie"s dry sense of humor appeals to me."

The executives who run Berkshire subsidiaries also look forward to the meeting each year because it gives them a chance to meet with fellow managers and hear Buffett address a wide range of topics.

Brooks Running CEO Jim Weber said he's always careful about how much of Buffett's time he takes up when he talks to him, so those conversations tend to focus just on Brooks' running shoe business. So the annual meeting offers one of the few times Weber gets to hear Buffett discuss other topics.

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"I want to hear him talk about the economy and investing," Weber said. "I'm looking forward to hearing him as much as everybody else."

Dozens of companies Berkshire owns set up booths in an adjoining 200,000-square-foot exhibit hall to sell their products and take questions about their businesses. The event offers Geico insurance quotes, See's Candy, Justin cowboy boots, RVs and homes manufactured by Clayton Homes.

"I think it's a neat way to keep the enthusiasm up in shareholders," said Jerry Meyer, who drove to Omaha with family from Coffeyville, Kansas.

When Buffett toured the exhibit hall where Berkshire Hathaway companies are selling their products, he was again surrounded by a pack of reporters, shareholders and security officers.

At the annual meeting, Buffett is the celebrity that everyone wants to get close to. While Buffett met Mr. Peanut at the Kraft Heinz booth, Miami Dolphin Ndamukong Suh wandered a few feet away without a crowd.

Shareholder Elizabeth Varner said it was fun just listening to Buffett while walking near him in the crowd and trying to shoot pictures of the down-to-earth billionaire.

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Berkshire Hathaway Inc.: www.berkshirehathaway.com