(Omaha) Warren Buffett’s company announced that its first-quarter profits soared along with the paper value of its investment portfolio, bringing some good news to the thousands of shareholders who packed an amphitheater on Saturday to listen to the billionaire and several other senior executives answer questions

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Chloe Lin, who came from Singapore to attend the meeting for the first time and learn from Mr. Buffett and his longtime investment partner, Charlie Munger.

The Berkshire Hathaway shareholders’ meeting always draws crowds of people who admire both investors and want to hear all the wisdom they have to offer about recent events and life lessons. And as both men are in their 90s this year, some in the crowd feel the urgency to attend now while both men are still around.

“Charlie Munger is 99 years old. I just wanted to see him in person. It’s on my to-do list, said Sheraton Wu, 40, of Vancouver. I must attend while I can. »

One of the few concessions Mr. Buffett makes at his age is that he no longer visits the showroom before the meeting. In years past, he was reportedly swarmed with shareholders trying to take a photo with him while a team of security guards worked to manage the crowd. Mr. Munger has used a wheelchair for several years, but both men are still mentally sharp.

To address concerns about their age, Berkshire Hathaway showed a series of question clips about the succession of past meetings dating back to the first one they filmed in 1994.

Two years ago, Mr Buffett finally said Greg Abel would eventually replace him as CEO although he has no plans to retire. Mr. Abel already oversees all of Berkshire Hathaway’s non-insurance businesses.

But not all attendees of the meeting are admirers. Outside the arena, Berkshire Hathaway NetJets pilots protested the lack of a new contract and pro-life groups carried signs declaring “Buffett’s billions kill millions” for s oppose his many charitable donations to abortion rights groups.

Berkshire Hathaway said Saturday morning it earned $35.5 billion, or $24,377 per Class A share, in the first quarter. That’s more than 6 times last year’s $5.58 billion, or $3,784 per share.

But Buffett has long warned that those net numbers can be misleading for Berkshire Hathaway, as wild swings in the value of its investments — most of which are rarely sold — skew profits. During this quarter, Berkshire sold only 1.7 billion shares while recording a paper investment gain of 27.4 billion.

Part of this year’s investment gains included a $2.4 billion increase related to Berkshire Hathaway’s planned acquisition of a majority stake in truck stop company Pilot Travel Centers in January.

Buffett says Berkshire Hathaway’s operating profits that exclude investments are a better measure of the company’s performance. By that metric, Berkshire Hathaway’s operating profit rose nearly 13% to $8.065 billion from $7.16 billion a year ago.