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Half-Year Reports for January–June 2021 will be published on 13 August 2021


Bloomberg

Warren Buffett Poised to Weigh In on How Berkshire Fares Post-Pandemic

(Bloomberg) — A year after Warren Buffett revealed he was unloading airline stocks as the pandemic took hold, Berkshire Hathaway Inc. shareholders are eager for his sense of what’s next for the conglomerate with more Americans emerging from lockdown.On Saturday, Berkshire’s chief executive officer will address shareholders via video-conference to conform with health guidelines, scrapping for a second year an arena event in Omaha, Nebraska, that typically attracted thousands of adoring fans. He’ll likely recount how the global crisis took a toll on some of the company’s wide-ranging businesses while bolstering some others.Investors will seek insights into the pulse of the U.S. economy from Buffett, whose company owns the BNSF railroad and has a stake in truck stop chain Pilot Travel Centers.“The first thing we’re going to be looking for is a demeanor on his part that should reflect a greater degree of confidence and visibility on the impact of the pandemic,” Cathy Seifert, an analyst at CFRA Research, said in an interview. At last year’s meeting, when uncertainty continued to plague businesses and markets, Seifert “had the sense that he was truly frightened,” she said.A representative for Berkshire declined to comment ahead of the meeting.Last year’s event was a modest affair with Buffett striking a subdued tone amid uncertainty from the pandemic, as he sat spaced apart on stage from his deputy Greg Abel. Buffett, 90, moved the meeting to Los Angeles this year, where his longtime business partner and Berkshire vice chairman Charlie Munger, who is 97, lives.While the billionaire investor could offer a unique perspective on how the economy is faring, investors have been largely in the dark recently about how he views the fallout from the Covid-19 crisis. His 15-page annual letter in February mentioned the pandemic only once: One of his furniture companies had to close for a time because of the virus, the billionaire noted on page nine.But some of his other businesses also felt the strain. The pandemic weighed on sales for retailers such as See’s Candies and party-goods supplier Oriental Trading Co. Precision Castparts, a maker of aerospace and energy industry equipment, was largely behind the $11 billion writedown Berkshire took last year when the virus slashed demand for flights. But Geico reported lower losses as shutdowns decreased the level of driving across the U.S. Kitchen-supply seller Pampered Chef posted higher earnings in 2020.“There’s a lot of opportunity for him to probably share some really interesting insights into the pandemic,” Jim Shanahan, an analyst at Edward D. Jones & Co., said in an interview. “He could probably talk about parts of the country that have had more robust recoveries to this point and parts of the country that are lagging in a way that some executives can’t do.”Whatever the commentary he delivers, Berkshire has been shaking things up among its investments since last year’s meeting. The company, which dumped airline stocks including shares in Delta Air Lines Inc. and Southwest Airlines Co. early in 2020 as the pandemic crushed travel, has been trimming its bank holdings over the past year in a major shift for a portfolio that had roughly 41% of its fair value concentrated in banks, insurers and financial firms at the end of 2019.When he addresses shareholders, another potential theme could be how businesses adjust as the recovery unfolds: With vaccines rolling out, large corporations are re-examining everything from customer demand to their return-to-office plans. JPMorgan Chase & Co. said this week that U.S. staff should expect to come back on a rotating basis in July. Other companies, including Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., are considering ways to cut real estate footprints in regions such as the Americas.Other topics the meeting might address:Spending That…



Read More: Half-Year Reports for January–June 2021 will be published on 13 August 2021

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