Berkshire Hathaway 1999 Annual Meeting Audience Question # 29

Berkshire will refrain from commenting on its investments unless there’s a reason to

Warren Buffett:

Zone 3?

Audience Member:

…Newport Beach, California, Bruce Lindsay. And formerly from Omaha, Nebraska. And I have a question.

Some time ago I read that you were buying silver. I never knew the reason why you were buying silver.

Warren Buffett:

Well, we covered silver purchase in the 1997 annual report for a special reason. A, it was part of a group of three unconventional investments we made. And one of those investments was of sufficient size so we felt people ought to know about it, specifically.

And then we felt our shareholders ought to know that we sometimes do things that they might not have guessed that we would do, from reading past annual reports. So we named the three unconventional investments.

But in this year’s report, we have stated we will not be naming those investments unless one of two things happened: one is that they become of a size that you should know about them specifically, in order to evaluate the kind of thing we do in Berkshire and the commitment of resources that has been made, or two, if regulatory authorities either… obviously, if they require us to report it, we’ll report it immediately.

Or in the case of silver, a year-plus ago, an important regulatory authority indicated they would’ve… that they’d prefer if we report it. We weren’t required to do so. But… and our desire is to cooperate on that, anyway. So, we did report it.

But we stated in this year’s report that absent those factors, we will not be giving details on unconventional investments any more than we give any more details on our regular equity holdings, than we’re, more or less, required to do.

We did say that we had changed certain of the unconventional investments that were described in the previous year’s report. And we stated that we’d entered into several new ones.

So, we are in some things that most of you or maybe all of you don’t know about. But they aren’t of sufficient size so that they’re going to, in any material way at all, affect your investment.


Charlie Munger:

Nothing to add.

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