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Last Updated: Monday, 3 May, 2004, 08:55 GMT 09:55 UK
Thousands flock to hear Buffett
Warren Buffett
Excitement ran high at Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting
Billionaire investor Warren Buffett, the world's second richest man, pulled in over 15,000 guests at the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting.

Rock music and spoof videos created an atmosphere of fun while the serious message to investors was that his strategy still holds.

Over the past year earnings nearly doubled from $4.2bn (2.4bn) in 2002 to $8.1bn (4.6bn) in 2003.

Mr Buffett will continue to invest in companies he understands, he said.

Known as "the sage of Omaha", Mr Buffett has always steered clear of technology stocks as he says he does not understand them.

He prefers investing in Coca Cola and Dairy Queen.

On the recent announcement that Google, the world's most popular search engine, was to float on the stock market, he said: "It's a fabulous business but my guess it comes at a fabulous price".

"We'd never buy a public offering", he said.


As the crowd hung on every word he did not mind admitting a few past mistakes.

"I cost us about $10bn", he said, referring to his reluctance to buy large amounts of Wal-Mart shares some years ago.

He also highlighted one of his better decisions and his recent bet against the US dollar.

At a disclosed $12bn, his foreign currency holdings represent Berkshire Hathaway's biggest investment in the last two years.

"We think that over time the dollar is likely to decline in value against some of the major currencies", he said in an interview with Bloomberg before the meeting.

He bought currencies as the dollar began its 25% slide over two years.


On the US economy Mr Buffett said the economy was growing and that the US Federal Reserve may be keeping interest rates too low as inflation picks up.

"The economy has heated up considerably", he said.

Hedge funds have often come under criticism from Mr Buffett and this meeting was no exception.

"Designed to spread risk, the funds on average have charges four times that of other types of funds", he said.

"It is not going to be a great experience in aggregate for investors".

Shares in Berkshire Hathaway, which owns energy, aviation and retailing firms have increased 28% in the past year.

They do not come cheap.

At the close on Wall Street last Friday they were $93,390.

Warren Buffet
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