Being a helpful sort, I put together the complete agenda for CIRQUE DU BERK 2012 – LAS VEGAS EDITION, which follows. Just some of the possibilities. Berkshire will have to spend a little money to do all this, but think of the payback.
Armored trucks from Borsheims arrive at Sands Expo Center, located in between Wynn and Venetian.
R.C. Willey trucks in its furniture from the ‘burbs and sets up showroom next to 30,000 square foot Nebraska Furniture Mart exhibit, where technicians are running cables that will allow customers to order anything they want at the shareholder discount, even if not on display.
For the first time, Jordan’s will exhibit at the meeting and with a couple of bucks from Berkshire to help with the expenses, Jordan’s also will …. wait for it… bring along the Trapeze School and some Liquid Fireworks.
Shareholders begin arriving. Steve Wynn gives everyone who stays at Wynn and Encore a special rate plus a hundred bucks worth of house chips. No three day minimum … everybody will stay the whole three days, no coercion needed. The Venetian also is offering a special rate. Anyone who doesn’t want to stay at higher-end hotels will find plenty of choices, including, right across the street, Hilton Grande Resorts, where rooms will be, essentially, free to anyone willing to listen to a timeshare presentation.
9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. CNBC coverage of the weekend begins as Sands Expo Center opens for a day of shopping. 2012 Cirque du Berk playing card meeting credential required. Optional, but the cannier exhibitors offer open bar. Dozens of Vegas showgirls in feathers and sequins will be wearing Borsheims merchandise throughout the weekend, demonstrating electronics at the furniture stores, touring customers through the Clayton model home, modeling cowboy boots, having their pictures taking with shareholders, and helping Fruit of the Loom customers choose their merchandise. (Steve Wynn arranged a cattle call audition for Buffett a month before the meeting, resulting in a photo op with hundreds of women.)
12:00 p.m. Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefers perform at the Sands Expo Center.
10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. GEICO gecko accompanies shareholders on gondola rides at the Venetian. 2012 Cirque du Berk playing card meeting credential required. At 2:00 p.m. Buffett rides with Gecko, followed by cameras.
3:30 p.m. Cast of Jersey Boys performs at the Sands Expo Center.
7:00 p.m. Buffett makes brief guest appearance as part of Blue Man Group ensemble in the Venetian Theater. Plays drums, sprays orange glop at shareholders.
9:00 p.m. MidAmerican Energy light show at Bellagio.
No need to get up at 4 a.m. after a night in the casinos … for the first time the meeting is being held outdoors at the LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY. Shuttle buses run for $5 each way for those who didn’t rent cars.
9:00 a.m. Buffett and Munger walk onto the stage. In lieu of the movie, which is running in special theaters back at the Sands Expo Center as well as on Wynn, Encore and other hotel channels in hotel rooms throughout the weekend, casino chips rain down on shareholders from hot air balloon that swoops over the crowd. The crowd goes wild. Buffett announces that these chips are good only at the Wynn-sponsored slots in the Sands Expo Center next to the Borsheims booth beginning at 3:30 p.m. and running through Sunday evening. Munger observes from microphone that Berkshire wasted $50,000 to do this. Buffett responds that Borsheims’ sales had better go up by at least that much.
This year, the meeting is again limited to “serious” questions only. Buffett has sold all the Moody’s, Goldman Sachs redeemed its preferred, the fate of NetJets is at least well-understood, and nothing else awful has happened. The meeting is both interesting and tranquil.
12:30 p.m. lunch break. Jamie Lee Curtis and Susan Lucci dressed in showgirl outfits parachute into Speedway a la Nick Cage in “Honeymoon in Vegas,” or like the flying angels at Aureole, wired and lowered from balloons. Or something like this, involving famous women, lightly dressed. (A necessary replacement for their appearances in the movie.)
1:15 p.m. Buffett and Munger return to the stage. Buffett announces that $1 Cirque du Berk casino chips are being auctioned on eBay for five bucks, and to cut it out.
3:30 p.m. The world’s fastest shareholder meeting takes place, setting a record. The proxy contained no proposals this year, but did include a coupon worth $50 worth of chips at Venetian or Wynn.
3:35 p.m. White limo carries Buffett, in Elvis costume, to New York, New York, where, followed by cameras, he plays ukulele strolling through the faux city streets, winding up in the food court for a Cherry Coke-fest (brought in for the occasion).
6:30 p.m. Buffett makes special appearance at one of the many Vegas magic shows (David Copperfield? Lance Burton? Penn & Teller? whoever). Wearing a top hat and tails, he saws Becky Quick in half.
7:30 p.m. Buffett hosts poker tournament at Wynn casino. At his table: Bill Gates and four shareholders who have paid $1 million each for the privilege in Glide charity auction. Other tables are sponsored by Berkshire managers.
10:00 p.m. Buffett makes brief appearance at Leno show. Leno forces Buffett to apologize for not recruiting his parents as partners.
2:00 a.m. Poker tournament at Wynn winds up for evening.
9:00 a.m. Sands Expo Center opens again. Buffett hosts “world’s biggest brunch.” Bridge players, chess players, etc. appear at the Expo Center. At noon, Buffett plays bridge, then more poker. Susan Lucci models world’s largest diamond ring. Extra showgirls are brought in, wearing less than the previous day except larger feather headdresses.
3:00 p.m. Buffett and Munger hold their press conference in public for the first time. Only journalists can ask questions, but anyone can watch. Buffett and Munger, flanked by showgirls, answer questions for the usual two hours. Shareholders learn to their surprise that the main thing journalists are interested in is which stocks Buffett and Munger like in Malaysia, Australia, Germany, Taiwan, Croatia, etc. and what they think of the economies of these countries. The international press corps numbers 150 this year, instead of the usual fifty or so. Furthermore, publications like the FT, the Economist, Atlantic Monthly, are in attendance for the first time. To cap it off, Ken Auletta is present because he has been given the “insider’s” tour of the meeting so that he can write one of his signature New Yorker pieces.
5:00 p.m. Poker tournament at Wynn resumes.
9:00 p.m. Grand prize for poker tournament announced: 25 free hours on NetJets. Most of shareholders are still around, waiting to see who wins this prize. (Berkshire employees, board members and journalists who cover Berkshire and/or ask questions at the meeting can play for fun, but are not eligible for prizes. Only regular shareholders get prizes.) Various lesser prizes donated by luxury merchants (Cadillac) and gift bags for everyone of Fruit of the Loom underwear.
Board of directors’ meeting held at the Wynn. Shareholders either stay and play, or depart. CNBC coverage of the weekend wraps up with Becky Quick commenting from the airport, standing in front of departing NetJets flights.