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    A bear is invited to wrestle Berkshire

    NEW YORK — Warren E. Buffett has found his bear.

    In his annual letter to shareholders, Buffett said he wanted to ‘‘spice things up’’ by finding a money manager with an unfavorable view of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. to participate in the company’s annual meeting.

    “The only requirement is that you be an investment professional and negative on Berkshire,’’ he wrote.


    On Monday, Buffett said Doug Kass, a hedge fund manager who has shorted Berkshire stock, betting its price will fall, would be added to the panel of analysts at the company’s yearly meeting May 4. He will be among those who question Buffett and Berkshire’s vice chairman, Charles T. Munger, on stage, when more than 18,000 devotees are expected at the three-day meeting, often called the Woodstock for capitalists.

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    Kass, owner of Seabreeze Partners Management in Palm Beach, Fla., is a well-known stock picker by virtue of his writings for a financial website,, and frequent appearances on CNBC.

    ‘‘I will be Daniel in the ­Lion’s Den, wading in a sea of Warren Buffett’s strongest admirers,’’ Kass, 63, wrote on

    Kass has credentials as a Berkshire bear, having written a piece in March 2008 that laid out his rationale for betting against the company. (Berkshire’s stock is up about 16 percent since Kass wrote the column, but it did have down years in 2008 and 2011).

    “I have worshipped at the altar of Warren Buffett since the late 1970s,’’ Kass wrote. ‘‘Indeed my writings over the last seven years have often been punctuated with Buffett-isms.’’


    Yet Kass said that despite his idolatry of Buffett, 82, the Berkshire business faced headwinds. He cited Buffett’s advanced age, saying ‘‘there will never be another Warren Buffett.’’ He also said Berkshire’s large size could impede returns, pointing out that even Buffett had written that the company’s asset base was too large to make outsize gains in the future. Both criticisms are even more potent today than they were a half-decade ago.

    On Monday, in a live CNBC interview, Buffett made the announcement he had selected Kass. “Think of tough questions,’’ Buffett challenged Kass on the air. ‘‘See if you can drive the stock down 10 percent.’’

    Kass will join two Berkshire bulls, insurance analyst Cliff Gallant of Nomura Securities and Jonathan Brandt of Ruane, Cunniff & Goldfarb. And though Kass will be the stick in the mud, he acknowledges that he remains an unabashed fan of Buffett. “I can’t wait to take a picture with him,’’ Kass said.