BNSF began operations in 1850 with a 12-mile line in northeastern Illinois. Today, it has 390 antecedents whose railroads have been purchased or merged. The company’s extensive lineage is laid out at http://www.bnsf.com/bnsf-resources/pdf/about-bnsf/History_and_Legacy.pdf.
Berkshire acquired BNSF early in 2010. Since our purchase, the railroad has invested $41 billion in fixed assets, an outlay $20 billion in excess of its depreciation charges. Railroading is an outdoor sport, featuring mile-long trains obliged to reliably operate in both extreme cold and heat, as they all the while encounter every form of terrain from deserts to mountains. Massive flooding periodically occurs. BNSF owns 23,000 miles of track, spread throughout 28 states, and must spend whatever it takes to maximize safety and service throughout its vast system.
Nevertheless, BNSF has paid substantial dividends to Berkshire – $41.8 billion in total. The railroad pays us, however, only what remains after it both fulfills the needs of its business and maintains a cash balance of about $2 billion. This conservative policy allows BNSF to borrow at low rates, independent of any guarantee of its debt by Berkshire.
One further word about BNSF: Last year, Carl Ice, its CEO, and his number two, Katie Farmer, did an extraordinary job in controlling expenses while navigating a significant downturn in business. Despite a 7% decline in the volume of goods carried, the two actually increased BNSF’s profit margin by 2.9 percentage points. Carl, as long planned, retired at yearend and Katie took over as CEO. Your railroad is in good hands.
关于BNSF的另一个说法：去年，其首席执行官卡尔·艾尔（Carl Ice）和他的第二名凯蒂·法默（Katie Farmer）在控制开支的同时，在应对业务大幅下滑的过程中做得非常出色。尽管运载的货物量下降了7％，但这两个公司实际上使BNSF的利润率提高了2.9个百分点。长期计划的卡尔在年底退休，凯蒂（Katie）接任首席执行官。您的铁路状况良好。
BHE, unlike BNSF, pays no dividends on its common stock, a highly-unusual practice in the electric-utility industry. That Spartan policy has been the case throughout our 21 years of ownership. Unlike railroads, our country’s electric utilities need a massive makeover in which the ultimate costs will be staggering. The effort will absorb all of BHE’s earnings for decades to come. We welcome the challenge and believe the added investment will be appropriately rewarded.
Let me tell you about one of BHE’s endeavors – its $18 billion commitment to rework and expand a substantial portion of the outdated grid that now transmits electricity throughout the West. BHE began this project in 2006 and expects it to be completed by 2030 – yes, 2030.
The advent of renewable energy made our project a societal necessity. Historically, the coal-based generation of electricity that long prevailed was located close to huge centers of population. The best sites for the new world of wind and solar generation, however, are often in remote areas. When BHE assessed the situation in 2006, it was no secret that a huge investment in western transmission lines had to be made. Very few companies or governmental entities, however, were in a financial position to raise their hand after they tallied the project’s cost.
BHE’s decision to proceed, it should be noted, was based upon its trust in America’s political, economic and judicial systems. Billions of dollars needed to be invested before meaningful revenue would flow. Transmission lines had to cross the borders of states and other jurisdictions, each with its own rules and constituencies. BHE would also need to deal with hundreds of landowners and execute complicated contracts with both the suppliers that generated renewable power and the far-away utilities that would distribute the electricity to their customers. Competing interests and defenders of the old order, along with unrealistic visionaries desiring an instantly-new world, had to be brought on board.
Both surprises and delays were certain. Equally certain, however, was the fact that BHE had the managerial talent, the institutional commitment and the financial wherewithal to fulfill its promises. Though it will be many years before our western transmission project is completed, we are today searching for other projects of similar size to take on.
Whatever the obstacles, BHE will be a leader in delivering ever-cleaner energy.
The Annual Meeting
Last year, on February 22nd, I wrote you about our plans for a gala annual meeting. Within a month, the schedule was junked.
Our home office group, led by Melissa Shapiro and Marc Hamburg, Berkshire’s CFO, quickly regrouped. Miraculously, their improvisations worked. Greg Abel, one of Berkshire’s Vice Chairmen, joined me on stage facing a dark arena, 18,000 empty seats and a camera. There was no rehearsal: Greg and I arrived about 45 minutes before “showtime.”
我们的家庭办公室小组由伯克郡首席财务官梅利莎·夏皮罗（Melissa Shapiro）和马克·汉堡（Marc Hamburg）领导，很快进行了重组。奇迹般地，他们的即兴作品奏效了。伯克希尔郡副主席之一格雷格·阿贝尔（Greg Abel）和我一起在舞台上面对黑暗的竞技场，18,000个空座位和一台摄像机。没有彩排：格雷格和我在“放映时间”前约45分钟到达。
Debbie Bosanek, my incredible assistant who joined Berkshire 47 years ago at age 17, had put together about 25 slides displaying various facts and figures that I had assembled at home. An anonymous but highly-capable team of computer and camera operators projected the slides onto the screen in proper order.
Yahoo streamed the proceedings to a record-sized international audience. Becky Quick of CNBC, operating from her home in New Jersey, selected questions from thousands that shareholders had earlier submitted or that viewers had emailed to her during the four hours Greg and I were on stage. See’s peanut brittle and fudge, along with Coca-Cola, provided us with nourishment.
雅虎将诉讼程序流向了创纪录的国际听众。 CNBC的Becky Quick在她位于新泽西州的家中经营，从格雷格和我上台四个小时内，从股东提交的成千上万个问题中选择了问题，或者观众已经通过电子邮件向她发送了问题。 See的花生糖和软糖以及可口可乐为我们提供了营养。
This year, on May 1st, we are planning to go one better. Again, we will rely on Yahoo and CNBC to perform flawlessly. Yahoo will go live at 1 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (“EDT”). Simply navigate to https://finance.yahoo.com/brklivestream.
Our formal meeting will commence at 5:00 p.m. EDT and should finish by 5:30 p.m. Earlier, between 1:30-5:00, we will answer your questions as relayed by Becky. As always, we will have no foreknowledge as to what questions will be asked. Send your zingers to BerkshireQuestions@cnbc.com. Yahoo will wrap things up after 5:30.
And now – drum roll, please – a surprise. This year our meeting will be held in Los Angeles . . . and Charlie will be on stage with me offering answers and observations throughout the 31¤2-hour question period. I missed him last year and, more important, you clearly missed him. Our other invaluable vice-chairmen, Ajit Jain and Greg Abel, will be with us to answer questions relating to their domains.
现在-请击鼓-一个惊喜。今年我们的会议将在洛杉矶举行。 。 。查理（Charlie）将在我的舞台上为我提供在整个31¤2小时的提问环节。去年我想念他，更重要的是，你很想念他。我们其他宝贵的副主席Ajit Jain和Greg Abel将与我们一起回答有关其领域的问题。
Join us via Yahoo. Direct your really tough questions to Charlie! We will have fun, and we hope you will as well.
Better yet, of course, will be the day when we see you face to face. I hope and expect that will be in 2022. The citizens of Omaha, our exhibiting subsidiaries and all of us at the home office can’t wait to get you back for an honest-to-God annual meeting, Berkshire-style.
February 27, 2021 Warren E. Buffett
2021年2月27日 Chairman of the Board