Top 19 quotes from the 2019 Berkshire Hathaway meeting
Here are our favourite Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger quotes from this year's annual meeting.
Over five hours, Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger answered dozens of questions at this year's Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting on topics as diverse as stock buybacks, saving to be happy, and the advantage of volatile share prices. Here are 19 of the duo's memorable quotes.
On when a company should buy back stock. "The only time you should buy back stock is when the remaining shareholders' shares are worth more the moment after you purchase it than before. We will buy stock when it is trading below a conservative estimate of its intrinsic value." [Buffett]
On the rising tide of socialism. "I'm a card-carrying capitalist. We wouldn't be sitting here except for the market system and the rule of law. I also think capitalism does involve regulation. It involves taking care of people who are left behind." [Buffett]
On the advantage of volatility. "The nature of markets is that things get overpriced and things get underpriced. And when things get underpriced, we'll take advantage of it." [Buffett]
On hope after buying a stock. "The business does not know you own it. It's going to earn what it's going to earn based on its fundamentals." [Buffett]
On the rising power of distribution relative to consumer brands. "Basically some retailers, certain retailers in the retail system, such as Amazon and Costco, have gained some power relative to brands." [Buffett]
On companies that have never turned a profit. "Investors are willing to look at losses and stay invested hoping that there are better days ahead." [Buffett]
On the danger of debt and private equity. "Both Charlie and I have seen high IQ people, really extraordinarily high IQ people, destroyed by leverage ... I would not get excited about (highly leveraged) alternative investments." [Buffett]
On whether Berkshire will focus on value investing without Warren. "I can assure you both managers (Ted Weschler and Todd Combs) are value investors ... They are absolutely following value principles and they're very smart and totally committed to Berkshire." [Buffett]
On judging the value of companies currently earning below their capability. "It all goes back to Aesop, who said that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. When we look at Amazon we do the same thing, trying to work out whether there are five birds in the bush and when we are going to get them and how certain that bush is." [Buffett]
On mistakes of omission. "I give myself a pass (for not investing in Amazon). But I feel like a horse's ass for not identifying Google earlier ... We saw it used in our own operations and we just sat there sucking our thumbs." [Munger]
On teaching delayed gratification. "I'm a specialist in delayed gratification as I've had a lot of time to delay it. We identify it (in people), we don't try to drum it in." [Munger] "Charlie has eight children, he's a believer in nature versus nurture." [Buffett]
On being a successful investor. "I don't think it is easy to be a great investor. I don't think we've half made it." [Munger]
On what improves when you reach old age. "You can and should understand human behaviour better as you get older. You have more experience with it ... Charlie and I have seen the extremes of human behaviour." [Buffett]
On the best philosophy in life. "If you want one mantra, it's from a gentleman who just died, Lee Kuan Yew ... 'Figure out what works and do it'." [Munger]
On overpaying for growth. "You can pay too much for a growing brand. You can pay way too much. It's easier to be sucked into that." [Buffett]
On what an investor should do given rising competition in the investment field. "It is much more competitive now than when I started. I would do a whole lot of reading about many businesses and figure out which ones I had some important knowledge and understanding that was different to most of my competitors. And I would try to figure out which companies I didn't understand. It's still an interesting game but it's harder than it used to be." [Buffett] "You want to specialise. No one wants to go to see someone who is half proctologist and half dentist." [Munger] "If you know one thing really well, it will give you an edge at some point." [Buffett]
On the difficulty of competing with private equity groups for large acquisitions. "Our competitors are buying with other people's money, where they take part of the upside and none of the downside." [Munger]
On surrounding yourself with good people. "Having the right partners in life, particularly the right spouse, is enormously important. It's more fun and you get more accomplished too. You just have a better time. I recommend finding the best person who will have you." [Buffett]
On saving and happiness. "I don't necessarily think that for all families in all circumstances, that saving money is necessarily the best thing to do. I think there's a lot to be said for doing things that bring your family enjoyment rather than trying to save every dime. I always believed in spending two or three cents of every dollar I earn (chuckles) ... If you can't be happy with 50 thousand or 100 thousand, you won't be happy with 50 million." [Buffett]
If you missed the Berkshire Hathaway 2019 Annual Shareholders Meeting, you can watch a full-length video of the Q&A here. For video recordings of every shareholder meeting since 1994, as well as dozens of interviews, see CNBC's excellent Warren Buffett Archive.
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