One of the few Wall Street analysts who follows Berkshire raised his rating on the stock to hold from sell. Meyer Shields at Stifel Nicolaus says Berkshire's non-insurance units recovered faster than he expected.
But he's still concerned that Berkshire won't be as quick and successful at seizing opportunities when Buffett is gone, especially since the plan calls for a new CEO and one or more separate investment managers. As quoted by Dow Jones, he writes:
Berkshire's success is appropriately attributable to Messrs. Buffett and Munger's willingness to deploy capital wherever in the economy they expect the greatest rewards. We can't help but expect the inevitable future bifurcation of responsibilities between the CEO and CIO(s) to add some friction to this process
There is one small development in the succession story. In the Risk Factors section of its annual report filed todaywith the SEC, Berkshire says its Board of Directors has identified "four current Berkshire subsidiary managers who are capable of being CEO." No names are listed, of course.
In the same section of last year's 10-K, the Board says it has identified only three subsidiary managers who are capable of being CEO.
As that guessing game continues, some investors are speculating on possible acquisition targets for Buffett's "elephant gun."
On Street Signs today, CNBC's Jim Cramer told us Buffett might take a page from Berkshire's "brilliant" acquisition of Burlington Northern Santa Fe and look for another company that moves things from one place to another, specifically energy. Cramer's possible candidates among pipeline companies: Energy Transfer Partners , Enterprise Products , Linn Energy , or MarkWest Energy .