Six things we learned from Warren Buffett after Berkshire Hathaway's annual meeting: From AI and driverless cars to what happens if the Sage of Omaha dies

 
Lynsey Barber
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Berkshire Hathaway's Warren Buffett answered many varied questions at its annual meeting (Source: Getty)

The sage of Omaha Warren Buffett took to the stage at the Berkshire Hathaway annual general meeting along with right hand man Charlie Munger.

And the ever straight talking star investor did exactly that, discussing how he missed out on some of the biggest tech bets in recent years and what happens when he's no longer around, among other things.

Sit back with a Cherry Coke: here's what we learned...

Regrets, he's had a few

Buffett may be a legendary investor, but he's not always on target and admitted to missing the boat on some key companies.

“I was too dumb to realise what would happen," he said in regard to Amazon and that he should have figured Google had a great business model in advertising.

He did invest in IBM, however, he said he thought the company would have done better than it has. No wonder he cut his stake in the firm by a third on Friday.

Job killing robots

Artificial intelligence (AI) will be "hugely disruptive" said Buffett, and agreed with many assessments of the technology that it will "result in significantly less employment in certain areas".

That's good for society, he said, but may not be good for a given business

When Buffett kicks the bucket

The 86-year-old predicted Berkshire Hathaway stock would tick up if he were to die.

“If I die tonight, I think the stock would go up tomorrow,” he said.

By no means the usual subject of conversation for an investor meeting, the mastermind behind the company's success certainly got one thing right, saying it "would be a good Wall Street story”.

Buffett last year revealed that a successor has been chosen, though has yet to reveal the key detail of who exactly that might be.

But, he warned that if the board brought in a consultant to look at compensation for the unnamed successor, "I will come back". He's clearly not a fan of their work.

The Wells Fargo debacle

Buffett accused the bank of not acting fast enough in the scandal that engulfed it over fake accounts, and that ite "incentivised the wrong behaviour". Berkshire Hathaway is Wells Fargo's biggest shareholder with a 10 per cent stake worth around $27bn.

"If there's a major problem, the chief executive will get wind of it. At that moment, that's the key to everything. The chief executive has to act. The main problem was they didn't act when they learned about it."

A spokesperson for the bank agreed with Buffet's assessment and said the bank had taken "decisive action" to make things right.

Tax changes are good (for him)

The repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is "a huge tax cut for guys like me" he told the audience.

"Anybody with $250,000 a year of adjusted gross income and a lot of investment income is going to have a huge tax cut."

He called the cost of medical care in the US a "tapeworm of American economic competitiveness" with the cost as a percentage of GDP rising while for corporate tax it fell.

"It's so speculative anyway in terms of what the law will be. It doesn't change anything for us big time at all."

On driverless cars

The rise of the driverless car may be on the horizon if you talk to Silicon Valley executives, but not according to Buffett, who believes they "may be a long way off".

When they do arrive, however, they might have an impact on investments in insurance. "If driverless cars became pervasive, it would only be because they were safer and that would mean that the overall economic cost of auto-related losses had gone down and that would drive down the premium income of [Berkshire insurance firm] Geico," he said.

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