Two-thirds of Buffett's pay spent on security

With a total compensation of just $520k from Berkshire Hathaway, nearly $350k goes to personal protection

By InvestorPlace Mar 11, 2010 12:36PM

Either Warren Buffett’s fans are a little wacky, or Omaha isn’t the pastoral Midwest city most people think it is.

 

According to public documents from Buffett’s Omaha-based Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A), the company spends a hefty $344,490 on personal and home security for America’s favorite investor in 2009. That’s about twice the regular compensation of $175,000 a year that Berkshire pays Buffett.

 

This was just one of several startling revelations in Berkshire Hathaway’s latest document mailed to shareholders this week.

 

Another interesting tidbit is that Berkshire’s CFO saw a bigger raise than Buffett and a bigger overall payday. Specifically, Chief financial officer, Marc Hamburg, saw his compensation grow 11%, to $874,750 in 2009. Buffett's total compensation grew about 6%, to $519,490 last year.

 

Another interesting tidbit: Hamburg's pay is dramatically less than the executives at some of Berkshire's subsidiaries, such as Geico and BNSF railroad.

 

Overall Berkshire Hathaway book value was up 19.8% to $21.8 billion in 2009. The fact that its top executives saw a smaller jump in their personal compensation is an interesting factoid.

 

Obviously, standard compensation is not where Buffett makes the bulk of his cash. In According to the latest Forbes list of the richest people in the world, the oracle of Omaha saw his net worth jump $10 billion in past 12 months on surging Berkshire Hathaway shares. He also shrewdly invested $5 billion in Goldman Sachs and $3 billion in General Electric amid 2008 market collapse, seeing a great return on his investment.

 

Compared to those gains, the pittance paid from Berkshire as salary doesn’t make much of a difference. But wouldn’t you just love the idea of tapping into Warren Buffett’s brain for a mere $500,000 a year?

 

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