Berkshire Opposes Shareholder Proposal for ‘Meaningful’ Dividend – Businessweek

My three cents:
1. Share repurchases are okay as long as you are not sacrificing investment in the company (R&D, upgrading equipment, etc.) and not attempting to manipulate EPS.
2. Dividend payments are okay as long as you are not sacrificing investment in the company.
3. Investing in the company is okay as long as you are not getting beat by an index.

Regarding point #3, VTI has beaten BRK-A by 40% over the last five years. VTI is a simple total stock market index that does pay dividends. Companies in that index also repurchase stock. Here is a graph from my phone:

Yes, a longer time horizon and risk adjustment would complete the analysis, but you get my point: listen to one of the richest men in the world (Warren Buffett) but do not attempt to mimic his every move.

Berkshire Opposes Shareholder Proposal for ‘Meaningful’ Dividend – Businessweek

Berkshire Opposes Shareholder Proposal for ‘Meaningful’ Dividend

By Zachary Tracer and Noah Buhayar
March 14, 2014 10:56 AM EDT

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A) , which had $48.2 billion in cash as of Dec. 31, is urging shareholders to vote against a proposal for the board to consider paying a “meaningful” dividend.

The directors review annually whether to retain all of its earnings, and will follow previously stated principles about capital management, according to a proxy filing today from Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire. Buffett has said he can generate better returns for investors by pursuing takeovers, buying securities and investing in subsidiaries like MidAmerican Energy and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad.

Shareholder David Witt, who has a stake valued at about $8,650 based on yesterday’s closing price, proposed the measure, stating that Berkshire has “more money than it needs” and that the board should consider the investors who aren’t billionaires. Buffett, the chairman and chief executive officer, became the world’s second-richest person by building Berkshire over more than four decades.

“Our first priority with available funds will always be to examine whether they can be intelligently deployed in our various businesses,” Buffett, 83, wrote to shareholders in a letter last year. “Our shareholders are far wealthier today than they would be if the funds we used for acquisitions had instead been devoted to share repurchases or dividends.”

Berkshire’s board also urged shareholders to reject a proposal that it set goals for reducing greenhouse gas and other emissions by its energy businesses. The annual meeting is scheduled for May 3 in Omaha.

Buffett’s salary remained $100,000 and has been at that level for more than a quarter century, Berkshire said in the filing. His total compensation was listed at about $485,000, including the cost of personal and home security provided by the company. Vice Chairman Charles Munger, 90, also collects a $100,000 salary.

Munger has also said Berkshire pursued the right course by reinvesting funds rather than paying a dividend.

“I think that some of you will live to see a Berkshire dividend, but I hope I don’t,” Munger said in 2011.

To contact the reporters on this story: Zachary Tracer in New York at ztracer1; Noah Buhayar in New York at nbuhayar

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Dan Kraut at dkraut2 Steven Crabill

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