Berkshire Hathaway 2003 Annual Meeting Audience Question # 31

Warren doesn’t know “how in the world anybody would successfully dethrone Coca-Cola”

Warren Buffett:

Number 8.

Audience Member:

Yes. My name is Pete Banner from Boulder, Colorado.

First of all, Mr. Buffett and Mr. Munger, most of us consider you fellows our heroes, and thank you for that.

Warren Buffett:

Well, thank you.

Audience Member:

Yes. On a lighter note, versus the chaos…

Warren Buffett:

You can stay on the same note. It doesn’t bother us.

Audience Member:

I wanted to ask what prompted you… considering your general aversion to technology… what prompted you to invest $100 million in Level 3 Communications convertible bonds?

And if I get a twofer, I’d like to know, do you still consider Coca-Cola as you once described as “The Inevitable.”

Warren Buffett:

Yeah. The answer to the second one first.

The… Coca-Cola I think has… ever since I described it that way, in terms of the… I talked about in terms of the probabilities that they would dominate the soft drink market and not lose market share in any way. That they would grow over time.

You know, it’s happening year after year. I don’t think the global market share of Coca-Cola products has ever been higher than it is now, and I don’t see anything that changes that in the future.

I mean, it is a huge distribution system that has been getting into the minds of more and more consumers since 1886, when John Pemberton, you know, Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta, first served up the first one.

It is in the minds of people, the product, all over the world, and it… there’ll be more people and it will be in their minds more firmly.

And over time, they should make a little more per drink.

So, I don’t know how in the world anybody would successfully dethrone Coca-Cola.

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