Buffett criticizes United and its CEO over dragging incident


In October, Chief Executive Officer John Stumpf resigned after testifying to Congress on why the lender opened 2 million bank accounts without customers' permission.

Berkshire voted its near 10% stake in favour of the board at the bank's AGM on April 25 and prevented stunning no votes against the board from disaffected shareholders of all sizes.

According to Buffett, he did not believe that Google would see long-term success with their advertising model. Berkshire has been piling into Apple Inc.in its latest technology bet.

He said he had grown more fond of Apple Inc., in which Berkshire has disclosed a roughly $20 billion USA stake, because he could "very easily determine" the iPhone maker's competitive position "and who is trying to chase them".

"We need a money mind as CEO", said Buffett, who has no plans to retire.

Buffett breaks down the consumer goods business when he says "Buy commodities, sell brands" has always been a formula for business success.

But the billionaire said on CNBC television that the incident did not undermine his investment strategy, in which his Berkshire Hathaway Inc. became the largest investor in the airline's parent, United Continental Holdings Inc.

Berkshire vice-chairperson Charlie Munger, who was also answering shareholder questions during the annual meeting, agreed with the assessment.

But he also said it would be a "terrible mistake" if capital allocation were not the "main talent" of his successor.

He also addressed criticism that Berkshire discloses too little about businesses such as aircraft parts maker Precision Castparts Corp, which it bought past year for $32.1-billion.

The Berkshire Hathaway chairman said that India has a terrific future due to the brain power it has.

"A lot of it is greatly immoral", Munger said.

"Obviously it was a bad mistake", Buffett said.

Apple, which Buffett scooped up past year, accounts for about 5.5% of Berkshire's portfolio.

A cut to 15 percent could boost book value by $36 billion, he said.

In other businesses, it will depend on how much competitive pressure there is to lower prices after a tax cut.

To a question by an audience member on how to find your "sweet spot" in investing, Buffett replied that they like companies where its inherent advantage looks set to last for at least a couple of decades. "And Apple, I regard them as being in a quite different business".

In recent years, Buffett has ventured a bit into tech investing but with mixed results.

Berkshire Hathaway's operating profit from its businesses fell 4.8% in the first quarter as its insurance subsidiaries swung to an underwriting loss, offsetting gains by its railroad and utilities.

Both are among the largest companies in the world today.

However, the real highlight of the annual meeting was the possibility of Berkshire paying a dividend, which came up as Buffett talked about what to do with the company's over $90 billion cash pile.

Buffett has long recommended that most casual investors would be better off investing in index funds steadily over time instead of trying to pick individual stocks. "Walmart and Google were missed opportunities", he said.

Buffett, who is 86, said Bogle will celebrate his 88th birthday Monday. "And that's true of 8-year-olds and 80-year-olds", he added.

And this year, those who made the trek heard Buffett on Saturday criticize the Trump administration's health care overhaul as a giveaway to wealthy individuals like himself, and heard him rebuke the previous management of Wells Fargo, of which Berkshire is one of the biggest shareholders.