Sunday, May 3, 2009

Buffett Succession Issue

Per Reuters:

Shareholders expressed confidence that Buffett has the succession issue well in hand. Yet, some admit that Buffett is a reason they bought the stock in the first place, and that when he leaves, they might too.

"That will be a time of real terror for a lot of people, and I don't know what I'll do," said Clifford Glassel, 68, a retired product engineer from Red Oak, Iowa who was attending his sixth meeting.

He is splitting his job into three parts. The Chairmanship goes to son, Howard, who will be there to keep tabs on the CEO and CIO. He is currently getting the same sort of training that Michael Corleone got prior to the demise of the Don.

The CEO job is to make sure that the zen form of management remains in place. A single guy with a very small staff to act as an intelligent owner. The CIO's won't get to decide how much capital to invest, just given the excess cash.

However, I expect to see another change. The first thing would be a substantial buyback the moment Warren steps down for whatever reason. The second is a rational dividend policy.

Or better yet, let the stock crater for a week or two and then announce the policies, giving a substantial break to long term, buy and hold owners.

Remember. Buffett outsourced his philanthropy to Bill Gates. Anyone that thinks he will do something stupid with a transition isn't thinking clearly.

No comments: