The rumors have been flying this year that Warren Buffett is going to announce his successor today. Buffet is 79, and though he looks remarkably energetic, he is statistically unlikely to be running the company ten years hence. So far, though, there's been no sign that he's preparing to name his replacement. Indeed, when a shareholder asks why he hasn't brought his successor on board, so that he can groom him for the top spot, Buffett's answer seems to indicate that he hasn't picked that person yet. Still, it is interesting.
"If we had a good way to inject someone into some role that would make them a better CEO of Berkshire, we'd do it, but the candidates we have right now are running businesses, making decisions, getting experience. To bring them in to the Berkshire offices while I'm sitting there reading would be a waste of talent."
Berkshire Hathaway isn't a trading firm. What Buffett does is sit and think a lot. And that's not a process that can be shared.
But that makes it obvious how real the concern is about what will happen to the firm after he is gone. Value investors insist that the philosophy, consistently applied, should produce good results--but most value investors are no Buffetts. Either Buffett is, as some insist, simply a statistical fluke--or he really is a special, rare genius. Either way, it's not clear Berkshire's magic will outlast him.