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5 things learned at Berkshire's Annual Meeting

May 5, 2012: 2:21 PM ET
warren_buffett

Warren Buffett

Buffett likes newspapers, hates paying dividends.

Omaha (FORTUNE) -- At Berkshire Hathaway's (BRKA) annual meeting on Saturday, Warren Buffett fielded questions from shareholders, journalists and analysts. The questioning started at 9:30 and is expected to last until 3:30. In all he said he would take a total of 54 questions. At mid-day, the questions have ranged from simple ones about his health ("I feel terrific.") to more technical ones about how to value the cash generated by Berkshire's insurance businesses. Here's a run down of the things we have learned so far:

1) Buffett says he may turn into a newspaper baron. Last year he bought the Omaha World-Herald, and says the acquisition has worked out well. He is thinking of buying more. Buffett says newspapers can be a good business as long as you don't give them away.

2) Berkshire won't pay a dividend. Buffett says it's not in the best interest of shareholders.

3) Buffett says U.S. banks are in far better shape than they were a few years ago. He thinks European banks are still in trouble.

4) Buffett thinks Amazon has been an incredible success and will affect a lot of businesses. Charlie Munger, Buffett's long-time partner, says Amazon could be terrible for a lot of retailers, and not a little terrible, "hugely" terrible.

5) Buffett, like everyone when they go to a store, has a budget. It's just that Buffett's budget is $20 billion. Buffett says he recently considered and then passed on a $22 billion acquisition because he didn't have the cash on hand. I will pass as well.

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About This Author
Stephen Gandel
Stephen Gandel

Stephen Gandel has covered Wall Street and investing for over 15 years. He joins Fortune from sister publication TIME, where he was a senior business writer and lead blogger for The Curious Capitalist. He has also held positions at Money and Crain's New York Business. Stephen is a four-time winner of the Henry R. Luce Award. His work has also been recognized by the National Association of Real Estate Editors, the New York State Society of CPA and the Association of Area Business Publications. He is a graduate of Washington University, and lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two children.

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