Berkshire Shareholder Meeting 2017: 3 Must-Watch Topics

berkshire shareholder meeting 2017It's that time of year again for Warren Buffett's annual "Woodstock of Capitalism."

On Saturday, May 6, the Berkshire shareholder meeting 2017 will take place in the company's hometown of Omaha, Neb. The massive event will be held in the 18,975-seat CenturyLink Center in downtown Omaha and include a six-hour Q&A with Buffett and Berkshire Vice Chairman Charlie Munger.

Even if you don't own a share of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE: BRK.A), which are currently priced just below $250,000 each, the meeting is an important event to follow. As arguably the world's most successful investor, Warren Buffett's wisdom on the economy, politics, and individual stocks can provide insight to every single investor.

Here are three of the biggest things shareholders could ask Buffett about at the meeting this weekend...

3 Topics Buffett Could Address at the Berkshire Shareholder Meeting 2017

Topic No. 3: Buffett's Apple Stock Ownership

Buffett has long been known as an anti-tech investor. Berkshire doesn't hold any of the white-hot tech stocks like Facebook Inc. (Nasdaq: FB) or Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN).

One of Buffett's only high-profile tech investments was him purchasing $10 billion worth of International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) stock in November 2011. And Buffett made another major tech investment this past year. In fact, Berkshire's 2016 13-F filing showed a purchase of 9.8 million shares of Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) worth $1.1 billion in Q1 2016. Since then, the Oracle of Omaha has upped his stake to 133 million shares, which made Berkshire an owner of more than 1% of all AAPL. That put the company in the top 10 biggest owners of Apple stock.

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The move shocked Wall Street since Warren Buffett has typically bought tried-and-true stocks instead of tech stocks. After all, Berkshire Hathaway's top holdings include mostly traditional stalwarts like The Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KO) and General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM).

Buffett's slow move into the tech sector indicates a shifting strategy for the legendary investor - a strategy that could be at the forefront of the Berkshire shareholder meeting this weekend.

Topic No. 2: The Trump Stock Market Rally

There's no doubt Warren Buffett will comment on the massive stock market surge following Donald Trump's election win.

During the presidential campaign, Buffett was a vocal supporter of Hillary Clinton. When asked in April 2016 how a Trump presidency would affect Berkshire Hathaway's performance, he bluntly quipped that it "won't be the only problem."

But Trump's win last fall has proven hugely beneficial for Berkshire's portfolio and the broader markets. Since Election Day on Nov. 8, 2016, the Dow Jones and S&P 500 have gained 14.2% and 11.6%, respectively. Shares of BRK.A and BRK.B are up 13.2% and 13% over the same time.

Buffett has since become more supportive of Trump as the current president. In an interview with CNN Money, he mentioned it's important for the "American people to coalesce behind a president."

Expect to hear Buffett's thoughts regarding Washington's influence on the markets moving forward.

But the third question that could come up at the meeting is the most mysterious. It concerns a decision that will have a tremendous influence on Berkshire's future - and it's something Buffett and the company's board have been intentionally concealing from the public.

Here's the biggest question that could come up at the Berkshire shareholder meeting 2017...

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Topic No. 1: Who Will Be Berkshire's Next CEO?

In recent years, the biggest question for the 86-year-old Buffett has been who will succeed him after he's gone.

Speculation regarding who will take the reins of Berkshire after Buffett has run rampant since he first mentioned it in his 2015 shareholder letter. He stated in the letter that the Berkshire board has already approved the next CEO of the company. The only hint Buffett provided was that the person already works for the company.

And four high-profile employees have been floated as the possible successor...

The two on the investment side of the business are Ted Weschler and Todd Combs, who were hired as investment managers in 2010 and 2011. Both manage about $10 billion worth of money for Berkshire, up from about $2 billion when they first started. Many believe either Weschler or Combs was behind Berkshire's move into Apple stock last year.

On the executive side, Ajit Jain and Greg Abel are the other two candidates. Jain, who leads Berkshire's massive reinsurance operations, has been seen as the front-runner in the race. Buffett consistently praises his value to the firm as a major driver of Berkshire's profits.

"If [Charlie Munger], I, and Ajit are ever in a sinking boat and you can only save one of us, swim to Ajit," Buffett humorously wrote in his 2010 letter to shareholders.

Greg Abel has been the head of Berkshire Hathaway Energy since 2008 but has been with the conglomerate since 2000. Over the last 17 years, he's worked with Buffett on more than $15 billion worth of energy acquisitions. In his 2014 shareholder letter, Buffett singled out Abel as an "extraordinary manager."

The Bottom Line: The Berkshire shareholder meeting is one of the biggest events of the year for investors looking to gain insight into one of the greatest investing minds ever. At the 2017 meeting this Saturday, May 6, Warren Buffett will discuss many economic and political topics. These will likely include Berkshire's high-profile move into Apple, the stock market rally following the 2016 election, and Buffett's choice for the next CEO.

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