We will be candid in our reporting to you, emphasizing the pluses and minuses important in appraising business value. The guideline is to tell you the business facts that we would want to know if our positions were reversed. We give you no less. Moreover, as a company with a major communications business, it would be inexcusable for us to apply lesser standards of accuracy, balance and incisiveness when reporting on others. We also believe candor benefits us as managers. The CEO who misleads others in public may eventually mislead himself in private1
Full Disclosure—Both the Good and the Bad
It’s called an annual report. It’s not called the annual sales document. It’s not called the annual, you know, tribute to management’s aspirations or anything. It’s called the annual report.
I really have a mental picture of my sisters in mind and it’s Dear Doris and Birdie. And I envision them as people who have a very significant part of their net worth in the company, who are bright but who have been away for a year and who are not business specialists.
And once a year I tell them what’s going on. And then, at the end, I take the Dear Birdie and Doris out and put in the shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway. I think that should be the mental approach.2
At Berkshire, full reporting means giving you the information that we would wish you to give to us ...