Buffett Watch

Warren Buffett's Popular Letter to Shareholders Set for Saturday Morning Delivery

Warren Buffett releases his annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders tomorrow morning (Saturday) at 8a ET as part of the company's annual report.

The 10,000+ word document is, as AP puts it, "one of the best-read and most-quoted business documents every year."

And this year, it has an even bigger built-in audience, as Berkshire's shareholder base expands with the acquisition of Burlington Northern and a 50-for-1 stock split of the Class B shares.

Reuters notes that Buffett has estimated there will be 700,000 direct owners of Berkshire stock and "millions more now own it indirectly" through S&P 500 index funds.

The letter typically covers a variety of topics.  ( are posted on Berkshire's web site.)  This time around it may include references to Berkshire's recent stock portfolio shuffling and the company's still sketchy succession plans.

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It will almost certainly feature Buffett's optimism for the country's long-term economic future, as demonstrated by his just-completed "bet" on America, the $26 billion purchase of freight railroad Burlington Northern.  (That would be in contrast to partner Charlie Munger's recent pessimistic parable.)

24/7 Wall Street predicts we'll be reading a "far more confident Buffett" than the one who wrote last year's letter admitting he'd done "some dumb things" in 2008.   In that letter he also predicted the economy would "be in shambles throughout 2009 - and for that matter, probably well beyond."

We'll be looking tomorrow for any signs of optimism about the economy's short-term outlook.

Also included: a fourth quarter earnings report and the annual, prominently featured comparison of Berkshire's corporate performance vs the S&P 500, as measured by the change in the company's per-share book value.

Barron's Andrew Bary predicts a "great 2009" with shareholder equity up more than $20 billion, "boosting the company's book value to an estimated $84,000 a share from $70,530."  That's thanks to a "sharp" increase in Berkshire's equity investments as the stock market rebounded and improved operating earnings for its subsidiaries.

We'll have it all here on Warren Buffett Watch tomorrow morning. 

Then we encourage you to submit your "Ask Warren" questions related to Buffett's letter and the annual report.  Buffett will be answering a selection of them during a three-hour live appearance on CNBC's Squawk Box with Becky Quick, Monday morning, March 1, from 6a to 9a ET.

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Class B:

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