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Warren Buffett Defends Coke No-Vote at Berkshire Meeting

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Annual Shareholders Meeting
Warren Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, Inc., tours the exhibition floor prior to the Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, May 3, 2014. Daniel Acker—Bloomberg/Getty Images

At Berkshire Hathaway's annual meeting, the Oracle of Omaha said "going to war" over Coca-Cola's vote on executive pay would not have been productive and that his abstention sent a clear message. Buffett also dismissed worries over Berkshire Hathaway's growth

Nearly 40,000 shareholders in Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate gathered this weekend in Nebraska to hear the Oracle of Omaha’s latest words of wisdom on his company, the business world, and the country.

Speaking at a question and answer session in a massive hall at a yearly event Buffett calls “Woodstock for Capitalists,” the all-star investor answered questions about his competitors, Coca-Cola, and railroad BNSF.

Buffett defended his recent controversial decision to abstain from a vote on executive pay at Coca-Cola, where his company has a 9.1% stake, or about 400 million shares. Buffett abstained from voting on a plan he later said he thought was excessive, but said that “going to war” would likely not have been productive, and that Berkshire’s abstention sent a clear message, Reuters reports.

When asked about weather-related disruptions at the railroad BNSF, the largest player in the prosperous oil-by-rail business, Buffett handed off to BNSF executive chairman Matt Rose. “We’re making significant investments,” Rose said. Buffett added Berkshire could invest “many billions” to improve operations.

Berkshire last year missed its five-year growth target for the first time in Buffett’s 49 years. Buffett brushed off concerns, however, saying that Berkshire performs best when markets are at their worst, unlike last year’s nearly-30 percent jump in the S&P 500.

“Over any cycle we will over-perform, but there’s no guarantee on that,” he said.

Paul Anka, the famous Canadian singer showed up too, and shared a duet with Buffett, singing “My Way,” the New York Times reports.

“Who needs the gym/ When I sit next to him [pointing to Mr. Anka]/ I feel younger!” sang the 83-year-old.

[Reuters]

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