Warren Buffet doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone because his performance numbers speak for themselves. And that’s what makes it so interesting to hear him take Q&A: “The nastier the better”… as he says!
It’s a long video… if you are in a rush, here’s our summary of the various Q&A:
Q1. What do you look for in the people you like to work with?
WB: I like to work with people I like. I don’t look at their CVs or Grades to decide who can do what. In fact, I don’t even look if they have a degree. If you are working with people you don’t enjoy, please do yourself a favour, and leave the job and work with people you like. You’ll do better.
Q2. What kind of businesses do you like to invest in?
WB: I want to invest in businesses that are stable and where I can visualize it 10 years from now. Companies like Coke (soft drinks), Gillette (mens shaving blades) are examples of my investment choices. There are many others like GEICO (automotive insurance), Nebraska Furniture Mart (maximum sales from a single store location in the US), Iscar Metalworking Company (an industry leader in metal-cutting tools from Israel). I don’t have the understanding of technology-intensive business like software etc, and I stay away from them.
Q3. How do you do business valuation? How detailed is it?
WB: I like to invest in businesses where I have great comfort with the business owner. A paragraph is often sufficient to know the business value. The example being Nebraska Furniture Mart owned by Mrs. Rose Blumpkin, who recently turned 101 years, who has no formal education but has great common sense.
Q4. Tell us some of your bad decisions and what you learned from them?
WB: I invested in US Air though it was a difficult sector. Call it Temporary Insanity. I have learned that my bad decisions have happened when I had more cash than necessary. The airline industry is one step forward for mankind, a giant step backward for capitalism! And then there are other mistakes that conventional accounting does not capture, like the selling of 5% stake in Walt Disney (at $6m) within a year of buying it (at $4mn) in the 1960s. Today that stake is worth over a billion dollars.
Q5. Why not split the Berkshire Hathaway share to make it more affordable to investors?
WB: I think of my investors as a club or an audience in my presentation and we want long-term investors not traders. I don’t want high trading volumes for our shares. In fact, I will be happy with no trading at all. Our share price ($25k per share in recent times) has helped us maintain that seriousness and attract long-term investors.
Thanks for coming by!