Smead: Buffett Is the Ultimate Long-Term Thinker
Warren Buffett, the legendary chairman, CEO, and largest shareholder of the holding company Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE: BRK.A)(NYSE:BRK.B), isn’t calling it quits anytime soon. After more than fifty years with the company, during which he transformed it from a small textile manufacturing firm in Nebraska into one of the leading conglomerates in the world, Buffett is still thinking long-term.
Speaking to Fox Business, Buffett said he will not name a successor to the Berkshire cloth just yet. “I can tell you the answer, no. No…. well, because it – it could change between now and when that person succeeds me. And there’s just no reason to,” Buffett said. “It may be next year they succeed me, it may be 10 years from now. It’s hard to tell.”
For his successor, whoever the next CEO should be, Buffett told CNN that not only does he not think executive compensation is out of whack, but that the next CEO of Berkshire should be held high above the pack. “And he would be – in this case it would be a he at the present time – the only one who would receive options because he would be the only one who is responsible for the overall success of the operation,” Buffett told CNN.
The comment was very apropos. Howard Buffett, Warren’s son, reflected on his father’s decision to abstain from voting on Coca-Cola compensation packages. The younger Buffett argued to Fox Business that it didn’t put him in an awkward position. “He and I talk about it… there’s a lot of stuff in the public that just is very inaccurate, and to some degree, unfair in some ways,” he told Fox Business. “So, you know, it’s – it’s not productive to try to solve some of those problems in the public.”
For his part, the older Buffett has had to deal with some criticism recently regarding his ability to pick winning stocks. When asked by CNN if he’d lost some of his edge, he responded with a brief “Yeah.”
Jeff Matthews, investor and author of Warren Buffett’s Successor: Who It Is and Why It Matters, told The Khaleej Times that criticism of Buffett is a byproduct of where the overall market is because Berkshire is known to trail a surging stock market. “Buffett always looks less exciting when everyone else does great,” Matthews said to The Khaleej Times.
This may be true, but when credit dries up and markets are declining, people look to him for clarity and stability. Bill Smead, founder of Smead Capital Management, told The Khaleej Times that some people have a hard time relating to Buffett because he is someone who thinks in terms of decades.
“He is the ultimate long-duration thinker,” Smead said. He predicts Berkshire to trounce the S&P 500 over the next five to ten years because many of its subsidiaries thrive when the economy grows.