May 4, 2019 / 8:49 PM / 18 days ago

Warren Buffett - Berkshire discloses enough about itself

Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett walks through the exhibit hall as shareholders gather to hear from the billionaire investor at Berkshire Hathaway Inc's annual shareholder meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S., May 4, 2019. REUTERS/Scott Morgan

OMAHA, Neb. (Reuters) - Warren Buffett on Saturday rejected a frequent criticism that his Berkshire Hathaway Inc does not disclose enough about its more than 90, often large operating businesses or its common stock investments.

Buffett defended Berkshire’s disclosures in responding to three questions at Berkshire’s annual shareholder meeting in Omaha, Nebraska.

Meyer Shields, of Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, is among the critics of Berkshire’s disclosures, saying in an April 28 report they leave investors “disproportionately reliant” on Buffett’s public persona and past investment successes rather than actual knowledge about the company.

Berkshire owns or co-owns several companies, such as the BNSF railroad, large enough to be in the Fortune 500 on their own, yet which merit no more than a couple of pages in its quarterly and annual reports. Profit and revenue for many smaller units are not disclosed at all.

Buffett said “I don’t think we actually provide less information” in periodic reports, but may present it in a different form.

He insisted that overwhelming investors with technical information was the wrong idea, saying you can “lose people” in a 300-page report that says less than a 50-page report.

Buffett also said Berkshire did not need to know the reasoning beyond its investments in stocks generally and foreign stocks, saying it might require the disclosure of proprietary strategies or would not be legally required.

Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt and Jonathan Stempel in Omaha, Nebraska; Editing by Jennifer Ablan and Nick Zieminski

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