of permanent value
Andrew Kilpatrick

I posted an interview on Guru Focus yesterday with Andrew Kilpatrick who wrote the most comprehensive book on Warren Buffett. I asked him some questions regarding Warren Buffett’s possible successors, and some questions related to his book.

The interview is below:

Andrew Kilpatrick author of “Of Permanent Value: The Story of Warren Buffett”, was kind enough to give me some time to answer some questions the latest news regarding Warren Buffett’s possible successors, and his book. Below is our conversation:

I have to get started with the biggest story of the past several days. What do you think about the Todd Combs appointment it seems he has a very short track record? Does any of this surprise you?

The choice of Todd Combs was surprising. Had not heard of him but that doesn’t mean that he’s not terrific. It seems that he will fit perfectly in the low-key, no-glory Berkshire culture. As far as photos of Combs, the only one to surface so far is his high school photo, for heaven’s sake. It seems Combs’ “circle of competence” will be financial services which are a big factor within Berkshire which holds such stocks as Wells Fargo and American Express. When you see that Buffett and Combs have bought into such companies as U.S. Bancorp and Goldman Sachs, you see some similarities. On a more important note, it’s what they both did not buy during the 2008 and 2009 financial crisis. Neither was tempted by AIG, Lehman, Citi, Fannie or Freddie.

Any idea how much is “substantial” for Mr. Combs?

Think Combs will start with smaller amounts to invest and then work toward bigger numbers. As you know, Lou Simpson is retiring as the investment guru for GEICO so it’s possible Combs would start by doing some of Simpson’s work. I don’t know that, but it seems to be a possibility.

Anything else that you would like to add about Combs?

In the end, Berkshire probably will have several investment managers.

The whole story with Li Lu also seems bizarre. Charlie Munger said about Li Lu “in my mind it is a foregone conclusion”, Buffett and Li Lu never mention a word and then Lu announces he will not be taking the job the day after the story about Combs breaks. Any thoughts?

The rest of the interview can be found here: My Interview With Andrew Kilpatrick