Thousands of people fill arena to hear from Warren Buffett

Buffett says United Airlines bungled the case of the passenger dragged off a plane in April 2017, and he is criticizing the CEO's handling of the incident.

This "incentivized the wrong type of behavior", and former Chief Executive John Stumpf, who lost his job over the scandal, was too slow to fix the problem, Buffett said. At that moment, that's the key to everything.

"I think it's absolutely essential to America that we become more productive, because that's the only way we increase consumption per capita", he added. But he said Berkshire has an internal "hotline" to flag possible misbehavior, which gets 4,000 calls a year.

Dozens of companies Berkshire owns set up booths in an adjoining 200,000-square-foot exhibit hall to sell their products and take questions about their businesses.

"I think it's a neat way to keep the enthusiasm up in shareholders", said Jerry Meyer, who drove to Omaha with family from Coffeyville, Kansas.

Berkshire and 3G control Kraft Heinz Co and recently tried to merge it with Unilever NV for $143 billion, but was rebuffed.

According to the publication, Warren Buffett said, "I blew it", as he admitted that he was amazed to see the business making additional money with no incremental cost, but he still didn't buy a stock.

Warren Buffett is an iconic investor, one who has shunned technology-related stocks since the beginning of his investment career due to the nature of these investments.

Buffett said rising healthcare costs are crippling the competitiveness of US companies overseas.

He said he was more comfortable buying shares of Apple Inc, in which Berkshire has disclosed a 133 million share stake.

"They actually have to do something", Buffett said.

Buffett said: "We've had a lot of (tax cuts) in our lifetimes - it's certain that some of a lower corporate rate would be competed away, and it's sure that some of it would inure to the benefit of shareholders".

Buffett had harsh words for Wells Fargo's managers who failed to respond promptly to the sales practices scandal that cost the former CEO his job past year.

In contrast, the billionaire offered little defense of one major holding of Berkshire: IBM. "But how many hedge fund managers in the last 40 years have said 'I only want to get paid if I do something for you?"

But for long time watchers of Buffett, perhaps the most tantalising point to emerge, was a stronger suggestion of a dividend - either by way of a cash payment or capital management.

Hundreds of shareholders lined up early outside downtown Omaha's CenturyLink Center for the meeting.

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