Berkshire Hathaway 2002 Annual Meeting Audience Question # 40

Why the annual report was shorter this year

Warren Buffett:

Number 6.

Audience Member:

Jack Hurst, Philadelphia. I have 3 questions, or 3 points.

The first is, I want to thank you for the pleasure it is to shop at Borsheims or Nebraska Furniture Mart, or even Benjamin Moore.

You have terrific people working there, and I’ve never been as satisfied with products as with what I’ve bought at those firms.

Warren Buffett:

Oh, well, thank you for that. And I thank you on behalf of the managements. They are terrific people that work at those companies.

Audience Member:

I agree with that.

You’ve dropped quite a bit from the annual report. There must be some God-given decree that it be limited to 72 pages.

But I wondered if you could put that in an internet message, such as that wonderful table about GEICO, its renewal policies and new policies, and the four pages at the end of the report about the business categories, where you separate the insurance from the finance from the manufacturing, and also that discussion that you had of look-through earnings. I think that it’s invaluable for looking at the company.

Warren Buffett:

OK, well, I appreciate the suggestions. And I…

Audience Member:

I have a third point. Oh, go ahead.

Warren Buffett:

But we do go through a… I mean, I don’t know whether 72 pages is the magic number, or when I get to about 11,000 words, but occasionally, you know, we do make an editorial decision.

The look-through earnings, for example, didn’t seem that important, and they’re fairly easy to roughly calculate, for anybody that’s interested. But you know, they are something that if I wrote for 15,000 words, I would have included.

So, I appreciate the suggestion on it, and I don’t think anybody’s accused me of writing too short a report… yet. But I’ll take…

It’s certainly on the… it’s possible on the internet to put up anything, and we’ll put up any material we’ve given you here before the opening on Monday morning so that nobody has a jump on any information.

We try to make it… I mean, I really want to cover the things that would be important to me if I were hearing about them on the other end. And we try to keep it to some number of pages, but I’m glad you want more.

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