- Buffett and long-time business partner Charlie Munger spoke for hours at the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting Saturday in Omaha.
- The pair frequently elicited laughter from the crowd of 40,000 by answering questions from shareholders and journalists with their usual folksy sense of humor and wisdom.
Berkshire Hathaway shareholders love Warren Buffett for the investment acumen that's made many of them millionaires, but they adore him for the nuggets of wit and wisdom he shares with them every year at the company's annual meeting.
And there was no shortage of that at this year's gathering as the "Oracle of Omaha" and his longtime-business partner Charlie Munger, the vice chairman of Berkshire, held court for hours in front of 40,000 attendees at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Nebraska.
Here are some of the best quips made at this year's meeting by Buffett, 86, and Munger, 93, who seemed as sharp as ever:
Buffett opened the meeting with a quip he's used before but always works on the crowd.
"That's Charlie. I'm Warren. You can tell us apart because he can hear and I can see."
Index-investing pioneer and Vanguard founder Jack Bogle was in the crowd and Buffett called him out to stand for an ovation. The Berkshire chairman said Bogle will have saved investors "100s of billions" over time with his low-cost investing philosophy.
Buffett called out to fellow octogenarian Bogle:
"You're going to be 88 on Monday. In only two years, you'll be eligible for an executive position at Berkshire. Hang in there buddy."
Buffett answered a question from a Chinese investor with some observations about how speculation in markets can cause bubbles and it's difficult to stop, a warning specifically for China's young, fast-growing market.
"There's nothing more agonizing than to see your neighbor who you think has an IQ 30 points below you getting rich buying stocks."
This was a funny story with a good lesson at the end from Buffett:
"I had an Aunt Katie here in Omaha... She worked really hard all her life, lived in a house she paid $8,000 for... Because she was in Berkshire she ended up — she lived to 97 — she ended up with a few hundred million and she would write me a letter every four, five months and she said, 'Dear Warren, I hate to bother you, but am I going to run out of money?' And I would write her back and I'd say, 'Dear Katie, It's a good question because if you live 986 years, you're going to run out of money. And then about four or five months later, she would write me the same letter again... There's no way in the world if you've got plenty of money that it should become a minus in your life."
Buffett had a lot of advice during the meeting for younger people, including this gem:
"When you go out in the world, look for the job you would take if you didn't need the money."
The older of the two, Munger, described what he dreams about:
"Sometimes when I am especially wistful, I think 'Oh, to be 90 again.'"
When someone asked about identifying good businesses, Buffett called companies "economic castles" and used a medieval analogy for what he looks for in a business and the managers running it.
"In capitalism, people are going to try to take that castle from you so you want a moat around it and you want a knight in that castle who is pretty darn good at warding off marauders."
Munger said a friend of his used to say there are two rules of fishing, No. 1 was to "fish where the fish are" and No. 2 was "Don't forget about rule No. 1."
Munger then said, "We've gotten good at fishing where the fish are... There's too many boats in the damn water, but the fish are still in it."
During a discussion about Buffett's eventual successor and what he or she may be paid, the two decried exuberant executive pay and the "compensation consultants" that enable it.
Buffett quipped, "I'll put it this way. If the board hires a compensation consultant after I'm gone, I will come back."
--With reporting by Lacy O'Toole