UPDATE 2-Buffett celebrates 50th year at Berkshire, faces tough questions

Sat May 2, 2015 5:29pm EDT
 
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* Buffett defends 3G cost-cutting, Clayton Homes

* Buffett praises railroad executives on turnaround

* Shareholders line up early to hear Buffett, Munger (Adds comments by Buffett, Munger)

By Luciana Lopez and Jonathan Stempel

OMAHA, Neb., May 2 (Reuters) - Berkshire Hathaway Inc shareholders on Saturday celebrated Warren Buffett's 50th anniversary running the conglomerate, as the billionaire expressed optimism the company would thrive over the long haul, even after he is gone.

Buffett and his second-in-command, Charlie Munger, fielded five hours of questions from shareholders, analysts and journalists at Berkshire's annual meeting, including some that criticized the business practices of firms that Berkshire owns or works with, such as Brazil's 3G Capital.

The meeting had a more festive air this year, with one of the more than 40,000 people who attended shouting out "Warren and Charlie, we love you" at the start of the main event of what Buffett calls "Woodstock for Capitalists."

"It's not Disneyland, it's Warrenland," said David Rolfe, chief investment officer of Wedgewood Partners Inc.

Berkshire holds more than 80 companies including the Burlington Northern railroad, Geico car insurance, Benjamin Moore paint, Dairy Queen ice cream, Fruit of the Loom underwear, and See's candies, and owns more than $115 billion of stocks.   Continued...