Berkshire Special: Buffett Lunch for $650,000

Last year’s charity lunch with Warren Buffett, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and arguably one of the world’s best-known and most knowledgeable stock investors, cost a California-based investor $650,000.  For that sum, the Californian and seven of his closest friends had lunch with Mr. Buffett at Smith & Wollensky, a storied New York City steakhouse.
 
The bidding on eBay for this year’s charity lunch, also to be held at Smith & Wollensky, began yesterday and ends on June 27.  At present the lunch is being valued at $41,100 (the highest of five current bids).
 
All proceeds raised from the auction will go to the Glide Foundation, an organization that is working to alleviate human suffering and poverty in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Mr. Buffett’s charity lunches have raised more than $2.0 million for the organization since going online in 2003.
 
Personally, I think this would be the opportunity of a lifetime, but few of us have enough disposable income for a $650,000 steak (and maybe a glass of wine and a side dish of potatoes au gratin).  Even split eight ways, that’s a hefty $81,250 per person.  I guess I’ll just have to log on the Internet for free after the event to see how it went and whether Mr. Buffett provided any sage investing advice for today’s climate.
 
Given the extreme turmoil in the financial markets of late, how much would you pay for the ability to hear what Mr. Buffett has to say?  Tune back in after June 27 to see the winning bid.

 

Laurie Berman, Senior Vice President, lberman@pondel.com
 
 

Nasdaq Update

Nasdaq recently began placing its relationship managers in the field to keep them geographically closer to the listed companies they serve.  For example, Southern California (from San Diego to Santa Barbara) is now covered by two Nasdaq relationship managers who reside in the region.
 
Listed companies should maintain proactive relationships with their relationship managers as these folks can trouble shoot any issue from compliance to listing standards to bell-ringing ceremonies to renting out the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York City for your next analyst day.
 
We were reminded of a couple of interesting tid-bits when Nasdaq visited our offices recently:
 

  • Nasdaq’s 2008 Core Services for listed companies (which include free webcasts, a dynamic annual report and Board tools, among others) are valued at $25,000.
  • Participation in bell-ringing ceremonies, at the open and close, are market cap driven.  In general, a listed company must have a market cap of $500 million to open the market and $250 million to close the market.
  • Nasdaq’s European investor conference is open to companies with market caps of at least $1 billion.
  • Pre notification to Nasdaq for all press releases is now handled via an electronic disclosure form at https://www.nasdaq.net/ED/IssuerEntry.aspx.
  • Each listed company has a dedicated surveillance account manager called a market intelligence director (MID).  Your MID can provide you with information about large block trades or significant price swings in your stock.  You can work with your market intelligence director to initiate calls when your stock price moves by a pre-determined percentage or when a block of a pre-determined amount of shares changes hands.  You can also call your market intelligence director whenever you need more clarity on how and why your stock is moving.

 
Log on to your company’s Nasdaq home page here for more information.

 

Laurie Berman, Senior Vice President, lberman@pondel.com
 
 

Fed Head Acknowledges Risk

Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke told the Women in Housing and Finance and Exchequer Club today that the U.S. Central bank is prepared to act aggressively to help stem problems caused by the recent housing slump and strains on the credit markets that are putting economic growth at risk.
 
Many analysts who fear that the United States is headed for a recession, reacted positively to the Fed chairman’s remarks and his public acknowledgement that the economy may indeed be in trouble.
 
Bernanke commented that policy makers are now more worried about sustaining economic growth than they are about inflation and pointed to rising oil prices, lower stock prices and falling home values as drivers for hurting consumer spending over the next year.
 
The Federal Open Market Committee, the Fed’s policy setting body, will hold a two-day meeting January 29-30.  Bernanke’s comments today reinforced expectations that rates will be cut by a half percentage point.

 

Laurie Berman, Senior Vice President, lberman@pondel.com