Warren Buffett: Talk to my secretary about investment advice

Warren Buffett joked that his secretary has become more famous and important than he is, at his annual shareholder meeting in Omaha yesterday, as he strayed from investments and into politics.

After years of pointing out that he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary, the investment legend has become a lightning rod for Democrats pushing for higher taxes on the rich. President Barack Obama invited Mr Buffett's secretary, Debbie Bosanek, to the State of the Union address this year, when he unveiled the "Buffett Rule" tax plan.

The almost 40,000 shareholders who converged on the CenturyLink convention centre were treated to a comic video in which Mr Buffett is forced to answer the phones at Berkshire Hathaway, his giant conglomerate, while Ms Bosanek plans TV appearances and pontificates on the state of the world economy.

The celebrity-stuffed video is an annual Berkshire tradition, which this year included appearances from the cast of Glee and former presidential candidate Herman Cain.

The comedic role reversal was short-lived, as shareholders at the annual meeting, known as the Woodstock of Capitalism, peppered Mr Buffett and vice-chairman Charlie Munger with questions on the investment landscape.

Late on Friday, the conglomerate said it made a profit of $3.2bn, more than double the same period last year, when its insurance businesses had been hit by the costs of the Japanese tsunami. Mr Buffett cautioned his shareholders that quarterly results are volatile, not least because of the changing market value of derivatives bets whose success won't be clear for years yet.