- Can you really explain to a fish what it’s like to walk on land? One day on land is worth a thousand years of talking about it, and one day running a business has exactly the same kind of value.
On Benjamin Graham:
- A story that was passed down from Ben Graham illustrates the lemminglike behavior of the crowd: “Let me tell you the story of the oil prospector who met St. Peter at the Pearly Gates. When told his occupation, St. Peter said, “Oh, I’m really sorry. You seem to meet all the tests to get into heaven. But we’ve got a terrible problem. See that pen over there? That’s where we keep the oil prospectors waiting to get into heaven. And it’s filled—we haven’t got room for even one more.” The oil prospector thought for a minute and said, “Would you mind if I just said four words to those folks?” “I can’t see any harm in that,” said St. Pete. So the old-timer cupped his hands and yelled out, “Oil discovered in hell!” Immediately, the oil prospectors wrenched the lock off the door of the pen and out they flew, flapping their wings as hard as they could for the lower regions. “You know, that’s a pretty good trick,” St. Pete said. “Move in. The place is yours. You’ve got plenty of room.” The old fellow scratched his head and said, “No. If you don’t mind, I think I’ll go along with the rest of ’em. There may be some truth to that rumor after all.”
- Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.
- For some reason, people take their cues from price action rather than from values. What doesn’t work is when you start doing things that you don’t understand or because they worked last week for somebody else. The dumbest reason in the world to buy a stock is because it’s going up.
- Most people get interested in stocks when everyone else is. The time to get interested is when no one else is. You can’t buy what is popular and do well.
- We have tried occasionally to buy toads at bargain prices with results that have been chronicled in past reports. Clearly our kisses fell flat. We have done well with a couple of princes – but they were princes when purchased. At least our kisses didn’t turn them into toads. And, finally, we have occasionally been quite successful in purchasing fractional interests in easily-identifiable princes at toad-like prices.
- 1981 Chairman’s Letters to Shareholders
- Never count on making a good sale. Have the purchase price be so attractive that even a mediocre sale gives good results.
- 1974 Letter to Shareholders
- Investors making purchases in an overheated market need to recognize that it may often take an extended period for the value of even an outstanding company to catch up with the price they paid.
- BerkshireHathaway 1998 Annual Meeting
- If you’re an investor, you’re looking on what the asset is going to do, if you’re a speculator, you’re commonly focusing on what the price of the object is going to do, and that’s not our game.
- 1997BerkshireHathaway Annual Meeting
- Despite three years of falling prices, which have significantly improved the attractiveness of common stocks, we still find very few that even mildly interest us. That dismal fact is testimony to the insanity of valuations reached during The Great Bubble. Unfortunately, the hangover may prove to be proportional to the binge.
- March 2003
- On acquiring bad companies for cheap prices: “In my early days as a manager I, too, dated a few toads. They were cheap dates – I’ve never been much of a sport – but my results matched those of acquirers who courted higher-price toads. I kissed and they croaked.”
- I like to go for cinches. I like to shoot fish in a barrel. But I like to do it after the water has run out.
- The important thing is to keep playing, to play against weak opponents and to play for big stakes.
- November 2002 talking with students at Gaston Hall[specific citation needed]
Circle of Competency
- Sometimes you’re outside your core competency. Level 3 is one of those times but I’ve made a bet on the people and I feel I understand the people. There was a time when people made a bet on me.
- There are all kinds of businesses that Charlie and I don’t understand, but that doesn’t cause us to stay up at night. It just means we go on to the next one, and that’s what the individual investor should do.
- Morningstar Interview
Sense of Humour
- Berkshire’s arbitrage activities differ from those of many arbitrageurs. First, we participate in only a few, and usually very large, transactions each year. Most practitioners buy into a great many deals perhaps 50 or more per year. With that many irons in the fire, they must spend most of their time monitoring both the progress of deals and the market movements of the related stocks. This is not how Charlie nor I wish to spend our lives. (What’s the sense in getting rich just to stare at a ticker tape all day?)
- When they open that envelope, the first instruction is to take my pulse again.
- 2001 Annual Meeting after mentioning that the instructions of his succession are sealed in an envelope at headquarters.[specific citation needed]
- It is only when the tide goes out, that you know who was swimming naked.
- Those who attended (the annual meeting) last year saw your Chairman pitch to Ernie Banks. This encounter proved to be the titanic duel that the sports world had long awaited. After the first few pitches…I fired a brushback at Ernie just to let him know who was in command. Ernie charged the mound, and I charged the plate. But a clash was avoided because we became exhausted before reaching each other.
- 1999 Letter to Shareholders
- We’ve long felt that the only value of stock forecasters is to make fortune tellers look good. Even now, Charlie and I continue to believe that short-term market forecasts are poison and should be kept locked up in a safe place, away from children and also from grown-ups who behave in the market like children.Template:1992 Berkshire Hathaway Chairman’s Letter
- At the bottom of the bear market in October 1974 a Forbes article interviewed Buffett. Buffett, for the first time in his life, made public prediction about the stock market.
- “How do you feel? Forbes asked.
- “Like an oversexed guy in a whorehouse. Now is the time to invest and get rich.”
- In a bull