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By Jeremy Glaser and Greggory Warren, CFA | 04-23-2015 11:00 AM

Questions for Buffett

Morningstar's Gregg Warren, one of three analysts who will be quizzing Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger in Omaha, describes how he narrows down his list of questions to just six.

Note: This video is part of Morningstar's coverage of the 2015 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting.

Jeremy Glaser: For Morningstar, I'm Jeremy Glaser. [One of our senior stock analysts,] Gregg Warren, will be one of three analysts asking Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger questions at this year's Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting. I'm here with Gregg to talk about his thought process in picking these questions.

Gregg, thanks for joining me.

Gregg Warren: Thanks for having me.

Glaser: First off, how do you narrow down the universe of potential things you could ask Warren Buffett or ask Charlie Munger and just focus on what you think are going to be the best questions to ask?

Warren: Berkshire has actually made it easier for us because Jonathan Brandt--who was on the panel with me last year--he and I have been sort of tasked with the job of asking non-insurance-related questions. Jay Gelb from Barclays was on the panel last year asking insurance questions, and this year Gary Ransom is going to be up there. Overall, the insurance analysts have asked insurance-related questions, and we've been sort of tasked with looking at the different businesses that are not insurance related. Those would be the Burlington Northern, Berkshire Hathaway Energy, all of the companies that are in the MSR, and then the finance and financial-products businesses.

Glaser: So, if you've narrowed it down to non-insurance questions, how many do you think you are going to try to come up with before heading to Omaha?

Warren: That's actually a really good question. Last year was our first year on the panel. We actually went out to Omaha with more than 50 questions in hand. When you look at the panels and the way they are set up, you've got three journalists and then three analysts, each asking six questions during the course of the Q&A session. Plus, you have shareholders, who are actually allowed to start asking the questions, I believe, in the afternoon session. So, at base, you're looking at at least 64 questions out there, so you are hoping that one of the other guys or gals on the panels or one of the shareholders doesn't take one of your questions away. You can't just walk into the room with six questions in front you and expect to have those be your questions during the course of the meeting.

It does make it a little bit tougher. You sort of have to tier things down. You have your top-tier questions. You have your second tier and your third tier. I think, last year, most of our questions were sort of in our top-tier realm. As we look at the meeting this year, we're pretty much going to focus on the bigger businesses, on the Burlington Northern piece, on Berkshire Hathaway Energy; but we also may pull a few things out on the investment side of things as well as some of what's been going on within the manufacturing, service, and retail.

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