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2008-01-08 16:48:33|  分类: 知识共享 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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会于2004年6月29-30日的会议记录中便提到,幕僚群已注意到我们绝对无法负荷长期大量的外部赤字,尽管一些重量级人物不断大声疾呼,但实际上他们还是无法提出彻底解决贸易赤字的具体方案。

In the article I wrote for Fortune 16 months ago, I warned that “a gently declining dollar would not provide the answer.” And so far it hasn’t. Yet policymakers continue to hope for a “soft landing,” meanwhile counseling other countries to stimulate (read “inflate”) their economies and Americans to save more. In my view these admonitions miss the mark: There are deep-rooted structural problems that will cause America to continue to run a huge current-account deficit unless trade policies either change materially or the dollar declines by a degree that could prove unsettling to financial markets.

在我16个月以前于财富杂志刊登的一篇文章当中,我就曾警告,持续贬值的美元并不能解决问题,到目前为止,确是如此,然而政府官员却依然希望经济能够软着路,同时敦促本国人省着点花用,其它国家刺激(应该说是膨胀)本国经济,在我看来这些建言都没有切中要点,除非贸易政策大幅改弦更张或是美元大幅贬值到惊天动地的程度,否则根深蒂固的结构性失衡问题仍将持续困扰金融市场的运作。

Proponents of the trade status quo are fond of quoting Adam Smith: “What is prudence in the conduct of every family can scarce be folly in that of a great kingdom. If a foreign country can supply us with a commodity cheaper than we ourselves can make it, better buy it of them with some part of the produce of our own industry, employed in a way in which we have some advantage.”

赞成维持现状的支持者喜欢引用亚当史密斯的话说,如果每个家庭的做法都正确无误,那么整个国家的方向就错不了,如果外国人能够生产出比我们自己还要便宜的东西,那当然是用我们自家产出较具竞争优势的东西拿来做交换。

I agree. Note, however, that Mr. Smith’s statement refers to trade of product for product, not of wealth for product as our country is doing to the tune of $.6 trillion annually. Moreover, I am sure that he would never have suggested that “prudence” consisted of his “family” selling off part of its farm every day in order to finance its overconsumption. Yet that is just what the “great kingdom” called the United States is doing.

我同意这点,但是请注意,史密斯先生的说法,指的是以物易物,而不是拿家产来做交换,尤其是当我们一年要典当6,000亿美元的资产,同时我相信他同样也不赞同家人以变卖资产的方式来弭补过度消费的缺口,而很不幸的,这正是当今最伟大的国家-美利坚合众国正在做的事。

If the U.S. was running a $.6 trillion current-account surplus, commentators worldwide would violently condemn our policy, viewing it as an extreme form of “mercantilism” – a long-discredited economic strategy under which countries fostered exports, discouraged imports, and piled up treasure. I would condemn such a policy as well. But, in effect if not in intent, the rest of the world is practicing mercantilism in respect to the U.S., an act made possible by our vast store of assets and our pristine credit history. Indeed, the world would never let any other country use a credit card denominated in its own currency to the insatiable extent we are employing ours. Presently, most foreign investors are sanguine: they may view us as spending junkies, but they know we are rich junkies as well.

换个角度来说,如果美国现在享有的是6,000亿美元的贸易顺差的话,其它国家一定会立刻跳出来谴责我们的贸易政策,将之视为重商主义,也就是长久以来,为人所垢病的鼓励出口、压抑进口、囤积财富的经济政策,我对这种做法也期期以为不可,但事实上就算不是有意的,目前世界上其它国家确实正对美国实行重商主义,觊谀我国丰厚的资产以及深厚的家底,确实除了美国以外,世界上再也没有其它国家可以享有几乎无上限的信用额度,截至目前为止,大部份的外国人还是相当乐观,他们认定我们是花钱如流水的败家子,而且是极其富有的败家子。

Our spendthrift behavior won’t, however, be tolerated indefinitely. And though it’s impossible to forecast just when and how the trade problem will be resolved, it’s improbable that the resolution will foster an increase in the value of our currency relative to that of our trading partners.

但我们这种挥金如土的行为,不可能无限制地持续下去,虽然很难预估这样的贸易问题未来将如何收尾,但可以肯定的是,绝对不可能依靠美元对其它货币大幅升值的结局。

We hope the U.S. adopts policies that will quickly and substantially reduce the current-account deficit. True, a prompt solution would likely cause Berkshire to record losses on its foreign-exchange contracts. But Berkshire’s resources remain heavily concentrated in dollar-based assets, and both a strong dollar and a low-inflation environment are very much in our interest.

我们很希望美国能够提出一套立即解决贸易逆差的方案,虽然,这样将使得Berkshire帐上立即产生大量的外汇交易损失,但由于Berkshire大部份的资产还是摆在以美元为计价的资产之上,强势的美元以及低通膨的环境还是我们的最爱。

If you wish to keep abreast of trade and currency matters, read The Financial Times. This London-based paper has long been the leading source for daily international financial news and now has an excellent American edition. Both its reporting and commentary on trade are first-class.

如果你想要持续追踪贸易与汇率问题,建议你看金融时报,这份伦敦地区发行的报纸长期引领国际金融讯息,同时还发行有美国版,它们在贸易方面的报导与社论都堪称一流。

* * * * * * * * * * * *

And, again, our usual caveat: macro-economics is a tough game in which few people, Charlie and I included, have demonstrated skill. We may well turn out to be wrong in our currency judgments. (Indeed, the fact that so many pundits now predict weakness for the dollar makes us uneasy.) If so, our mistake will be very public. The irony is that if we chose the opposite course, leaving all of Berkshire’s assets in dollars even as they declined significantly in value, no one would notice our mistake.

当然照例我还是要老调重谈,总体经济是没有人搞得懂的玩意儿,我们在汇率上的判断不一定对,事实上,近来也有很多份子跟着凑热闹,一起高喊美元弱势的现象,反而让我们觉得怪怪的,果真如此,那我们可就糗大了,讽刺的是,要是我们按兵不动,将Berkshire的资金摆在美元资产之上,就算其价值大幅下滑,反而没有人会注意。

John Maynard Keynes said in his masterful The General Theory: “Worldly wisdom teaches that it is better for reputation to fail conventionally than to succeed unconventionally.” (Or, to put it in less elegant terms, lemmings as a class may be derided but never does an individual lemming get criticized.) From a reputational standpoint, Charlie and I run a clear risk with our foreign-exchange commitment. But we believe in managing Berkshire as if we owned 100% of it ourselves. And, were that the case, we would not be following a dollar-only policy.

凯因斯曾经提到他著名的通用理论,普世的智慧告诉我们,寻常的失败可能比不寻常的成功更能搏取名声,或者讲得再通俗一点,旅鼠或许以愚蠢著称,但却没有任何单一一只旅鼠挨骂,若是为了面子,查理跟我在外汇上的作法,很可能让自己的面子挂不住,但我们还是尽心尽力的经营Berkshire,这也是我们不独锺美元资产的根本原因。

Miscellaneous

其它事项

‧ Last year I told you about a group of University of Tennessee finance students who played a key role in our $1.7 billion acquisition of Clayton Homes. Earlier, they had been brought to Omaha by their professor, Al Auxier – he brings a class every year – to tour Nebraska Furniture Mart and Borsheim’s, eat at Gorat’s and have a Q&A session with me at Kiewit Plaza. These visitors, like those who come for our annual meeting, leave impressed by both the city and its friendly residents.

‧去年我告诉各位有一群田纳西州财经系的学生,在一宗Clayton房屋17亿美元的购并案扮演了关键性的角色,每年他们固定由Al Auxier教授带到奥玛哈,参观NFM及波仙珠宝,到Gorat’s吃牛排,同时与我在Kiewit总部来一场问答,这群访客,如同每年来参加股东年会的股东一样,都对本市及其市民留下深刻的印象。

Other colleges and universities have now come calling. This school year we will have visiting classes, ranging in size from 30 to 100 students, from Chicago, Dartmouth (Tuck), Delaware State, Florida State, Indiana, Iowa, Iowa State, Maryland, Nebraska, Northwest Nazarene, Pennsylvania (Wharton), Stanford, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, Toronto (Rotman), Union and Utah. Most of the students are MBA candidates, and I’ve been impressed by their quality. They are keenly interested in business and investments, but their questions indicate that they also have more on their minds than simply making money. I always feel good after meeting them.

之后其它大专院校的学生也开始陆续造访,这一学年将会有来自芝加哥、Dartmouth、Delaware、佛罗里达、印地安纳、爱荷华、马里兰、内布拉斯加、宾州、史丹佛、田纳西、德州、多伦多、犹它州等地的学生,人数从30到100人不等,大部份都是MBA的学生,我对于他们的素质印象深刻,他们对于商业与投资深感兴趣,但从所提的问题看得出他们不只是想赚钱而已,我总是很喜欢跟他们见面。

At our sessions, I tell the newcomers the story of the Tennessee group and its spotting of Clayton Homes. I do this in the spirit of the farmer who enters his hen house with an ostrich egg and admonishes the flock: “I don’t like to complain, girls, but this is just a small sample of what the competition is doing.” To date, our new scouts have not brought us deals. But their mission in life has been made clear to them.

在会面中,我告诉新来的访客有关田纳西州学生以及Clayton房屋的故事,我之所以这么做,是想要像有位农夫巡鸡舍,却只看到一颗鸡蛋时说到「其它母鸡们可要努力一点啊!」,目前我们这些新同学还没有为我们带来新案子,不过我应该已经很清楚地告诉他们的任务了。

‧ You should be aware of an accounting rule that mildly distorts our financial statements in a pain today, gain-tomorrow manner. Berkshire purchases life insurance policies from individuals and corporations who would otherwise surrender them for cash. As the new holder of the policies, we pay any premiums that become due and ultimately – when the original holder dies – collect the face value of the policies.

‧大家要知道,一项会让我们今天的财务报表难看的会计原则,明天肯定会给我们回报,Berkshire以现金向原本有意将保单贴现的个人及企业购买人寿保单,身为这些保单的新持有人,我们支付后续到期的保费,等到原保单持有人过世后,我们则向保险公司领取保险理赔金。

The original policyholder is usually in good health when we purchase the policy. Still, the price we pay for it is always well above its cash surrender value (“CSV”). Sometimes the original policyholder has borrowed against the CSV to make premium payments. In that case, the remaining CSV will be tiny and our purchase price will be a large multiple of what the original policyholder would have received, had he cashed out by surrendering it.

在买进保单之时,其原持有人的身体状况一般都不错,且我们买进的价格通常远高于保单既有价值CSV,有时原持有人甚至已用CSV抵押来支付保费,在这种情况下,剩余的保单价值并不高,所以卖给我们的价格可能是他们自行向保险公司贴现的好几倍。

Under accounting rules, we must immediately charge as a realized capital loss the excess over CSV that we pay upon purchasing the policy. We also must make additional charges each year for the amount by which the premium we pay to keep the policy in force exceeds the increase in CSV. But obviously, we don’t think these bookkeeping charges represent economic losses. If we did, we wouldn’t buy the policies.

依照会计原则,我们在买进保单的同时,必须马上就买进价格与贴现价值的差异,认列一笔已实现的资本损失,同时以后每年还必须就当年度支付保费与贴现价值的差异提列支出,当然我们很清楚这仅仅是账面上的损失,因为杀头的生意有人做,赔钱的生意没人做。

During 2004, we recorded net “losses” from the purchase of policies (and from the premium payments required to maintain them) totaling $207 million, which was charged against realized investment gains in our earnings statement (included in “other” in the table on page 17). When the proceeds from these policies are received in the future, we will record as realized investment gain the excess over the then-CSV.

2004年,我们光是在这方面认列的损失就有2.07亿美元,列为其它资本利得的减项,当然日后等我们拿到理赔金时,也必须就实际收取金额与保单贴现价值的差异认列资本利得。

‧ Two post-bubble governance reforms have been particularly useful at Berkshire, and I fault myself for not putting them in place many years ago. The first involves regular meetings of directors without the CEO present. I’ve sat on 19 boards, and on many occasions this process would have led to dubious plans being examined more thoroughly. In a few cases, CEO changes that were needed would also have been made more promptly. There is no downside to this process, and there are many possible benefits.

‧有两项泡沫化后政府提出的两项方案对Berkshire特别受用,而我很后悔没有早一点就付诸实施,第一项是推动总裁不得列席的董事会,我总计担任十九家公司的董事,而通常的情况下,这个提案往往故意让事情复杂化而束诸高阁,在某些总裁非撤换不可的情况下,将有助于加速相关程序的进行,这方案没有任何坏处,同时还可带来正面的帮助。

The second reform concerns the “whistleblower line,” an arrangement through which employees can send information to me and the board’s audit committee without fear of reprisal. Berkshire’s extreme decentralization makes this system particularly valuable both to me and the committee. (In a sprawling “city” of 180,000 – Berkshire’s current employee count – not every sparrow that falls will be noticed at headquarters.) Most of the complaints we have received are of “the guy next to me has bad breath” variety, but on occasion I have learned of important problems at our subsidiaries that I otherwise would have missed. The issues raised are usually not of a type discoverable by audit, but relate instead to personnel and business practices. Berkshire would be more valuable today if I had put in a whistleblower line decades ago.

第二项改革是有关检举专线,也就是公司所有员工都能够有管道向我本人及董事会的积核委员会提供讯息,而不怕遭到申斥的管道,Berkshire极端的分权化,突显这项制度的重要性,在庞大如Berkshire的帝国,员工人数已达18万人,总部不可能知道所有事情,在我们收到的申诉中,大部份是「坐在我隔壁的人有口臭」之类的抱怨,但偶尔我也会收到本来不会被揭穿的子公司重大弊病,这些问题通常不容易经由正常的稽核管道发现,而是关于个人行为与企业常态,我想当初若是早一点实施,Berkshire将可以更加美好。

‧ Charlie and I love the idea of shareholders thinking and behaving like owners. Sometimes that requires them to be pro-active. And in this arena large institutional owners should lead the way. So far, however, the moves made by institutions have been less than awe-inspiring. Usually, they’ve focused on minutiae and ignored the three questions that truly count. First, does the company have the right CEO? Second, is he/she overreaching in terms of compensation? Third, are proposed acquisitions more likely to create or destroy per-share value?

‧查理跟我一向推崇股东以老板的想法做法自居,有时这需要他们主动一点,特别是大型机构投资人更应该身先士卒,可惜到目前为止,他们的举措仍乏善可陈,通常他们过于重视细节,却忘了最重要的三个关键问题,首先,公司总裁是否适任? 其次,他的报酬是否合理? 最后,其所提出的购并案,是否有损于原有股东权益?

On such questions, the interests of the CEO may well differ from those of the shareholders. Directors, moreover, sometimes lack the knowledge or gumption to overrule the CEO. Therefore, it’s vital that large owners focus on these three questions and speak up when necessary.

关于这些问题,总裁的利益与股东并非完全一致,而董事们有时可能缺乏智慧或勇气来反驳总裁的决定,也因此大股东对于这三个关键,同时大声说出自己的看法,就显得相当重要。

Instead many simply follow a “checklist” approach to the issue du jour. Last year I was on the receiving end of a judgment reached in that manner. Several institutional shareholders and their advisors decided I lacked “independence” in my role as a director of Coca-Cola. One group wanted me removed from the board and another simply wanted me booted from the audit committee.

结果有很多人只是把这当做例行公事,去年我仅能依此标准被动地接受大家的公评,其中有些大型机构投资人认定我担任可口可乐的董事缺乏独立性,其中有一个团体要求我退出该公司的董事会,另外一个好一点,只想把我赶出稽核委员会。

My first impulse was to secretly fund the group behind the second idea. Why anyone would wish to be on an audit committee is beyond me. But since directors must be assigned to one committee or another, and since no CEO wants me on his compensation committee, it’s often been my lot to get an audit committee assignment. As it turned out, the institutions that opposed me failed and I was re-elected to the audit job. (I fought off the urge to ask for a recount.)

我头一个反应是,我或许该偷偷地捐款给第二个团体,我不知道到底是谁想要待在稽核委员会,通常董事通常会被分配到各个委员会,但由于没有任何一位总裁希望我待在薪资委员会,所以一般我都会被排到稽核委员会,结果证明,这些团体的努力功败垂成,我还是被分到稽核的任务,虽然我曾极力要求重新投票。

Some institutions questioned my “independence” because, among other things, McLane and Dairy Queen buy lots of Coke products. (Do they want us to favor Pepsi?) But independence is defined in Webster’s as “not subject to control by others.” I’m puzzled how anyone could conclude that our Coke purchases would “control” my decision-making when the counterweight is the wellbeing of $8 billion of Coke stock held by Berkshire. Assuming I’m even marginally rational, elementary arithmetic should make it clear that my heart and mind belong to the owners of Coke, not to its management.

有些团体因为Berkshire子公司McLane及乳品皇后与可口可乐有生意上的往来,而质疑我的独立性,(难道为此我们就应该弃可口可乐而选择百事可乐吗?),根据韦氏大辞典关于「独立」的定义,指的是「不受他人所控制」,我实在搞不懂,怎么会有人认为我会为了其间的蝇头小利,而牺牲个人在可口可乐高达80亿的股东权益,再退一步想,就算是小学生也应该知道,我的心到底是站在公司股东或经营阶层那一边。

I can’t resist mentioning that Jesus understood the calibration of independence far more clearly than do the protesting institutions. In Matthew 6:21 He observed: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Even to an institutional investor, $8 billion should qualify as “treasure” that dwarfs any profits Berkshire might earn on its routine transactions with Coke. Measured by the biblical standard, the Berkshire board is a model: (a) every director is a member of a family owning at least $4 million of stock; (b) none of these shares were acquired from Berkshire via options or grants; (c) no directors receive committee, consulting or board fees from the company that are more than a tiny portion of their annual income; and (d) although we have a standard corporate indemnity arrangement, we carry no liability insurance for directors.

我忍不住要说,连耶稣基督都比这些抗议团体还要了解独立性的真义,在马修6:21章节中,他提到,「你的财富在那里,你的心就在那里」,我想即便对一个大型投资法人来说,80亿美元也绝对是一笔不小的数目,相较于与可口可乐往来能赚取的蝇头小利。根据圣经的标准,Berkshire的董事会堪称典范,(a)每位董事至少将400万美元以上的身家摆在Berkshire(b)没有任何股份是靠选择权或赠与取得(c)董事们领取的酬劳相较于自身的年所得都极其有限(d)虽然我们有一套企业赔偿机制,但我们并没有替董事们安排任何责任保险。

At Berkshire, board members travel the same road as shareholders.

在Berkshire,董事们与所有股东站在同一条船上。

l   * * * * * * * * * * *

Charlie and I have seen much behavior confirming the Bible’s “treasure” point. In our view, based on our considerable boardroom experience, the least independent directors are likely to be those who receive an important fraction of their annual income from the fees they receive for board service (and who hope as well to be recommended for election to other boards and thereby to boost their income further). Yet these are the very board members most often classed as “independent.” Most directors of this type are decent people and do a first-class job. But they wouldn’t be human if they weren’t tempted to thwart actions that would threaten their livelihood. Some may go on to succumb to such temptations.

查理跟我已看过很多符合圣经所说观点的种种行为,根据多年的董事会经验,最不独立的董事当属那些依赖董事酬劳过生活的人,(还有那些期待被邀请加入董事会的人士,好让他们得以增加更多的外快),更可笑的是,正是这些人被归类为独立的董事,这类董事举止大多彬彬有礼,且有一流的工作,但人的天性使得他们不得不反对可能危及其生计的任何方案,基于诱惑而继续沉沦下去。

Let’s look at an example based upon circumstantial evidence. I have first-hand knowledge of a recent acquisition proposal (not from Berkshire) that was favored by management, blessed by the company’s investment banker and slated to go forward at a price above the level at which the stock had sold for some years (or now sells for). In addition, a number of directors favored the transaction and wanted it proposed to shareholders.

让我们看看周遭现实的状况为何,关于最近刚传出的一件购并案(与Berkshire无关),我有第一手的数据,管理阶层相当青睐这件收购案,而投资银行也觉得相当不错,因为购并价格远高于目前股票的市价,此外许多董事也相当赞同,并准备提案到股东会表决。

Several of their brethren, however, each of whom received board and committee fees totaling about $100,000 annually, scuttled the proposal, which meant that shareholders never learned of this multi-billion offer. Non-management directors owned little stock except for shares they had received from the company. Their open-market purchases in recent years had meanwhile been nominal, even though the stock had sold far below the acquisition price proposed. In other words, these directors didn’t want the shareholders to be offered X even though they had consistently declined the opportunity to buy stock for their own account at a fraction of X.

然而就在此时,有几位董事会的同僚,每位每年平均都从公司领取超过十万美元酬劳,却跳出来大表反对,最后使得这件金额高达数十亿美金的购并案胎死腹中,这些未参与公司实际经营的外部董事,仅持有极少数的股权,且多数为公司所赠与,且很奇怪的是,虽然目前的股价远低于购并的提案价格,却不见他们自己从市场买进多少股份,换言之,这些董事压根就不希望股东们提出X价格的报价,同时自己却也不愿从市场上以X价格买进部份股权。

I don’t know which directors opposed letting shareholders see the offer. But I do know that $100,000 is an important portion of the annual income of some of those deemed “independent,” clearly meeting the Matthew 6:21 definition of “treasure.” If the deal had gone through, these fees would have ended.

我不知道到底是那几位董事反对让股东看到相关的提案,但我却很清楚这十万美元的酬劳,对这些被外界视为独立的董事来说,至关紧要,绝对称得上圣经上所说的财富,而万一这件购并案要是谈成了,他们每年固定可以领取的酬劳将因此泡汤。

Neither the shareholders nor I will ever know what motivated the dissenters. Indeed they themselves will not likely know, given that self-interest inevitably blurs introspection. We do know one thing, though: At the same meeting at which the deal was rejected, the board voted itself a significant increase in directors’ fees.

我想不论是我或是该公司的股东,永远都不会知道是谁提出反对的议案,而基于私利,这群人也永远不知道要如何反省,但至少我还知道一件事,那就是就在拒绝这项收购案的同一次董事会上,另一项大幅提高董事酬劳的提岸却获得通过。

‧ While we are on the subject of self-interest, let’s turn again to the most important accounting mechanism still available to CEOs who wish to overstate earnings: the non-expensing of stock options. The accomplices in perpetuating this absurdity have been many members of Congress who have defied the arguments put forth by all Big Four auditors, all members of the Financial Accounting Standards Board and virtually all investment professionals.

‧既然我们提到自利的话题,就让我们来聊聊最容易让管理阶层将盈余灌水的会计手法,也就是免费用化的股票选择权,参与这项荒谬闹剧的共犯包含国会议员,他们公然蔑视四大会计师事务所以及会计准则委员会及众多投资专家所提的建言。

I’m enclosing an op-ed piece I wrote for The Washington Post describing a truly breathtaking bill that was passed 312-111 by the House last summer. Thanks to Senator Richard Shelby, the Senate didn’t ratify the House’s foolishness. And, to his great credit, Bill Donaldson, the investorminded Chairman of the SEC, has stood firm against massive political pressure, generated by the check-waving CEOs who first muscled Congress in 1993 about the issue of option accounting and then repeated the tactic last year.

附件有一篇我曾在华盛顿邮报刊登的社论,文中提到去年夏天在众议院以312票对111票通过的一项惊世骇俗的法案,多亏参议员Richard Shelby的阻挡,参议院最后并未批准众议院的愚蠢行为,另外证管会主委Bill Donaldson以其一生清誉,坚定抵挡强大的政治压力,大企业总裁们企图利用政治献金游说国会议员,重施在1993年封杀选择权会计原则实行的故技,。

Because the attempts to obfuscate the stock-option issue continue, it’s worth pointing out that no one – neither the FASB, nor investors generally, nor I – are talking about restricting the use of options in any way. Indeed, my successor at Berkshire may well receive much of his pay via options, albeit logically-structured ones in respect to 1) an appropriate strike price, 2) an escalation in price that reflects the retention of earnings, and 3) a ban on his quickly disposing of any shares purchased through options. We cheer arrangements that motivate managers, whether these be cash bonuses or options. And if a company is truly receiving value for the options it issues, we see no reason why recording their cost should cut down on their use.

由于让选择权议题模糊化的力量毫不停歇,所以我还是要不厌其烦地再一次强调,包含财务会计准则委员会FASB,一般投资大众以及我本人在内,从来就没有人主张限制选择权的使用,事实上,包含未来Berkshire的继任者在内,都很有可能会经由选择权获得大量的报酬,只不过这种选择权必须经过各方面的仔细核算,包含(1)适当的执行价格(2)将保留盈余本身的增长能力考虑在内(3)限制其在取得股份后不久就处份,我们赞成任何激励管理阶层的措施,不管是现金或者是选择权,而若选择权的发行真有助于公司价值的提升,我们看不出有任何理由只因为必须将其成本列为费用就弃而不用。

The simple fact is that certain CEOs know their own compensation would be far more rationally determined if options were expensed. They also suspect that their stock would sell at a lower price if realistic accounting were employed, meaning that they would reap less in the market when they unloaded their personal holdings. To these CEOs such unpleasant prospects are a fate to be fought with all the resources they have at hand – even though the funds they use in that fight normally don’t belong to them, but are instead put up by their shareholders.

真正的原因其实很简单,那就是某些总裁明知一旦将选择权费用化后,他们所获取的酬劳突然间将被迫全部摊开在阳光底下,同时费用化也将影响其未来处份持股的价格,后者关乎其真正获得的报酬,这使得他们必须倾全力悍卫自己的利益,讽刺的是,他们用的还是公司的钱,这全是股东们的血汗钱。

Option-expensing is scheduled to become mandatory on June 15th. You can therefore expect intensified efforts to stall or emasculate this rule between now and then. Let your Congressman and Senators know what you think on this issue.

选择权费用化将在今年6月15日起强制实行,大家可以预期此后将不断有人企图阻止或是废除相关规定,去之而后快,务必让你选区的议员知道你对于这项议题的立场。

The Annual Meeting

年度股东大会

There are two changes this year concerning the annual meeting. First, we have scheduled the meeting for the last Saturday in April (the 30th), rather than the usual first Saturday in May. This year Mother’s Day falls on May 8, and it would be unfair to ask the employees of Borsheim’s and Gorat’s to take care of us at that special time – so we’ve moved everything up a week. Next year we’ll return to our regular timing, holding the meeting on May 6, 2006.

关于股东年会今年有两项变革,首先由于母亲节缘故,股东会日期改为四月的最后一个星期六(也就是4/30),而不是以往的五月第一个星期六,实在是不好意思要求波仙珠宝及Gorat’s牛排店在这个重要节日来为我们服务,因此我们决定提早一个星期举行,明年我们就会回复以往惯例,在2006年5月6日召开。

Additionally, we are changing the sequence of events on meeting day, April 30. Just as always, the doors will open at the Qwest Center at 7 a.m. and the movie will be shown at 8:30. At 9:30, however, we will go directly to the question and answer period, which (allowing for lunch at the Qwest’s stands) will last until 3:00. Then, after a short recess, Charlie and I will convene the annual meeting at 3:15. We have made this change because a number of shareholders complained last year about the time consumed by two speakers who advocated proposals of limited interest to the majority of the audience – and who were no doubt relishing their chance to talk to a captive group of about 19,500. With our new procedure, those shareholders who wish to hear it all can stick around for the formal meeting and those who don’t can leave – or better yet shop.

此外,我们也改变了开会当天的程序,Qwest中心的大门还是会在早上七点钟准时开放、电影短片照例会在八点半播放,不过Q&A的时间会提早到九点半开始,(会场中午备有点心摊位),一直到下午三点为止,然后在短暂的休息之后,在三点十五分开始召开正式会议,之所以会这样做,是因为有些股东抱怨去年有两位股东提出两项无关紧要的议题,浪费在座19,500位股东宝贵的时间,在改变程序之后,那些想要畅所欲言,全程参与的股东,可以一直待到会议结束,而没有兴趣浪费时间的股东也可提早离开去血拼。

There will be plenty of opportunity for that pastime in the vast exhibition hall that adjoins the meeting area. Kelly Muchemore, the Flo Ziegfeld of Berkshire, put on a magnificent shopping extravaganza last year, and she says that was just a warm-up for this year. (Kelly, I am delighted to report, is getting married in October. I’m giving her away and suggested that she make a little history by holding the wedding at the annual meeting. She balked, however, when Charlie insisted that he be the ringbearer.) Again we will showcase a 2,100 square foot Clayton home (featuring Acme brick, Shaw carpet, Johns Manville insulation, MiTek fasteners, Carefree awnings and NFM furniture). Take a tour through the home. Better yet, buy it.

当天在会场旁边的展场也会有许多娱兴节目,Kelly-Berkshire的Flo Ziegfeld去年布置了一件大型的展览品,不过她说去年只是热身而已,我很高兴向大家报告,Kelly在去年十月结婚,我本来建议她选在股东大会举行婚礼,可惜由于查理坚持要男傧相而作罢,再一次我们将在会场展示一个2,100平方英呎宽的组合屋,配备有Acme砖块、Shaw地毯、Johns Manville隔热材料、MiTek螺栓、Carefree屋檐及NFM家具,记得来参观一下,最好顺便买一套。

GEICO will have a booth staffed by a number of its top counselors from around the country, all of them ready to supply you with auto insurance quotes. In most cases, GEICO will be able to give you a special shareholder discount (usually 8%). This special offer is permitted by 45 of the 50 jurisdictions in which we operate. Bring the details of your existing insurance and check out whether we can save you money.

GEICO公司会再度派出各地区最顶尖的业务员,在会场设立摊位,随时提供股东们汽车保单的报价,在大多数的情况下,GEICO都可以提供给你一个相当优惠的股东折扣(大约8%),这个特别优惠在我们有营业据点的全美50州中的45州都有效,各位记得将自己现在的投保资料带来,看看是否能帮自己省下一笔钱。

On Saturday, at the Omaha airport, we will have the usual array of aircraft from NetJets® available for your inspection. Stop by the NetJets booth at the Qwest to learn about viewing these planes. Come to Omaha by bus; leave in your new plane.

星期六在奥玛哈机场,我们仍将展示NetJets@一系列的机队供大家参观,请到Qwest会场向EJA的业务代表洽询参观的事宜,来的时候坐车,回去可以搭飞机。

The Bookworm shop did a terrific business last year selling Berkshire-related books. Displaying 18 titles, they sold 2,920 copies for $61,000. Since we charge the shop no rent (I must be getting soft), it gives shareholders a 20% discount. This year I’ve asked The Bookworm to add Graham Allison’s Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe, a must-read for those concerned with the safety of our country. In addition, the shop will premiere Poor Charlie’s Almanack, a book compiled by Peter Kaufman. Scholars have for too long debated whether Charlie is the reincarnation of Ben Franklin. This book should settle the question.

去年书虫书店在会场设摊贩售Berkshire相关书籍,全部十八种,总计卖出2,920本,也因为摊位不收租金(我越来越好讲话了),所以股东买书都可以打八折,今年我特地要求书虫增加Graham Allison所著的核子恐怖主义-最终可避免的大灾难,这是所有关心国家安危必读的书籍,此外当天也会举行Peter Kaufman所著可怜查理的年鉴,一直以来许多学者都在争论查理是否为富兰克林再世,我想这本书或可解决大家的疑问。

An attachment to the proxy material that is enclosed with this report explains how you can obtain the credential you will need for admission to the meeting and other events. As for plane, hotel and car reservations, we have again signed up American Express (800-799-6634) to give you special help. They do a terrific job for us each year, and I thank them for it.

后面附有股东会开会投票的相关数据,向各位解释如何拿到股东会入场及其它活动必须的识别证,至于有关机位、住宿、租车等预订服务,我们很高兴与美国运通(电话800-799-6634)再次签约为您提供相关安排,每年他们都为大家提供非常好的服务,在此谨代表大家向他们说声谢谢。

At Nebraska Furniture Mart, located on a 77-acre site on 72nd Street between Dodge and Pacific, we will again be having “Berkshire Weekend” pricing. We initiated this special event at NFM eight years ago, and sales during the “Weekend” grew from $5.3 million in 1997 to $25.1 million in 2004 (up 45% from a year earlier). Every year has set a new record, and on Saturday of last year, we had the largest single-day sales in NFM’s history – $6.1 million.

位于道奇街与太平洋街占地77英亩的内布拉斯加家具店NFM,再度会有Berkshire周特卖,我们在八年前首次推出这种促销活动,营业额更一举从1997年的530万美元成长到2004年的2,510万美元,每年的销售成绩持续创新高,去年股东会周末再度创下单日营业额新高610万美元。

To get the discount, you must make your purchases between Thursday, April 28 and Monday, May 2 inclusive, and also present your meeting credential. The period’s special pricing will even apply to the products of several prestigious manufacturers that normally have ironclad rules against discounting but that, in the spirit of our shareholder weekend, have made an exception for you. We appreciate their cooperation. NFM is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. On Saturday this year, from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. we are having a special affair for shareholders only. I’ll be there, eating barbeque and drinking Coke.

想要享有折扣记得在4/28星期四到5/2星期一间采购,并出示股东开会证明,在这期间的特卖活动也适用于许多原本从不打折的顶级品牌,这可是为了股东会才特别破例,我们很感谢他们的配合,NFM的营业时间平日从早上10点到下午9点,星期六及星期日则从早上10点到下午6点,在今年的星期六,我们将有一个股东会特卖会,时间从下午5点半到下午8点,我本人也将出席,顺便吃点烤肉配配可乐。

Borsheim’s – the largest jewelry store in the country except for Tiffany’s Manhattan store – will have two shareholder-only events. The first will be a cocktail reception from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday, April 29. The second, the main gala, will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, May 1. On Saturday, we will be open until 6 p.m.

波仙珠宝-全美单店营业额仅次于纽约曼哈顿蒂芬妮的珠宝店,在股东会期间将会有两场专为股东举办的展览会,第一场是在4/29星期五的鸡尾酒会,时间从下午6点到晚上10点,第二场主秀则在5/1星期天举行,从早上9点到下午4点,星期六则营业到下午6点。

We will have huge crowds at Borsheim’s throughout the weekend. For your convenience, therefore, shareholder prices will be available from Monday, April 25 through Saturday, May 7. During that period, just identify yourself as a shareholder through your meeting credentials or a brokerage statement.

Borsheim’s operates on a gross margin that is fully twenty percentage points below that of its major rivals, even before the shareholders’ discount. Last year, business over the weekend increased 73% from 2003, setting a record that will be tough to beat. Show me it can be done.

整个周末波仙都将人满为患,从4/25星期一到5/7星期六的股东会期间,波仙都将提供股东特惠价,只要出示出席证或者是委托书表明股东的身分即可享有折扣,波仙的营业毛利要比其它主要竞争对手要低20个百分点以上,去年的营业额较前年又成长了73%,再度创下历史的新高,让我们努力把它打破。

In a tent outside of Borsheim’s, Patrick Wolff, twice U.S. chess champion, will take on all comers in groups of six – blindfolded. Additionally, we will have Bob Hamman and Sharon Osberg, two of the world’s top bridge experts, available to play with our shareholders on Sunday afternoon. They plan to keep their eyes open – but Bob never sorts his cards, even when playing for a national championship.

波仙外面所搭的棚子内,Patrick Wolff-美国棋两度冠军,也会再度在会场蒙着眼与所有挑战者分六个一组分批对奕,此外两位世界级桥牌顶尖高手Bob Hamman、Sharon Osberg也会在星期天下午与大家同乐,当然他们不会蒙眼,不过以Bob的习惯,他从来不整理牌组,就算是在参加全国桥牌大赛时,也是如此。

Gorat’s – my favorite steakhouse – will again be open exclusively for Berkshire shareholders on Sunday, May 1, and will be serving from 4 p.m. until 10 p.m. Please remember that to come to Gorat’s on that day, you must have a reservation. To make one, call 402-551-3733 on April 1 (but not before). If Sunday is sold out, try Gorat’s on one of the other evenings you will be in town. Enhance your reputation as an epicure by ordering, as I do, a rare T-bone with a double helping of hash browns.

我个人最爱的牛排馆-Gorat's为了Berkshire股东年会破例在5/1星期天开门营业,从下午4点开始营业,一直到晚上10点,请记得星期天事先若没有订位的人请勿前往以免向隅,要预约请在4/1以后打电话(402-551-3733),若订不到星期天的位子,也可以试试其它晚上,记得跟我一样,老练一点地点丁骨牛排加上双份的牛肉丸。

We will again have a special reception from 4:00 to 5:30 on Saturday afternoon for shareholders who have come from outside of North America. Every year our meeting draws many people from around the globe, and Charlie and I want to be sure we personally greet those who have come so far. Last year we enjoyed meeting more than 400 of you including at least 100 from Australia. Any shareholder who comes from other than the U.S. or Canada will be given a special credential and instructions for attending this function.

星期六下午四点到五点半,我们也会为来自北美以外地区的股东举行欢迎会,每年股东年会吸引了来自世界各地的人们参与,查理跟我希望能够亲自接待这些远道而来的股东,去年人数达到四百位,其中至少有一百位是来自澳洲,任何来自美国与加拿大地区以外的股东事先都会拿到参与这项仪式的证明与注意事项。

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Charlie and I are lucky. We have jobs that we love and are helped every day in a myriad of ways by talented and cheerful associates. No wonder we tap-dance to work. But nothing is more fun for us than getting together with our shareholder-partners at Berkshire’s annual meeting. So join us on April 30th at the Qwest for our annual Woodstock for Capitalists.

查理跟我真是幸运,每天能够从事我们喜爱的工作,同时由这么多有干劲的同仁协助,也难怪我们每天都能够边跳舞上班,当然每年能够与股东伙伴们同乐更是一大乐事,所以再次欢迎大家到Qwest中心参与资本主义家的伍斯达克年度音乐会。

February 28, 2005

Warren E. Buffett

Chairman of the Board

华伦.巴菲特

董事长

2005年2月28日

 


鹰扬千里而缓其翼、雀跃丈余而疾其翅。

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