March 3, 2014 Comments

On Monday the S&P 500 was down 0.7% while Toronto was flat.

I would not have minded seeing a bigger decline today since it might have given me a chance to pick up some Berkshire at a better price.

Buffett was on CNBC’s Squawk Box for 3 hours this morning (as he always is the Monday after the annual letter comes out). He reiterated his views that we should buy companies for the long term and that we should not be bothered by stock price declines, especially when they are caused by macro economic events. He was accompanied by the two portfolio managers that he hired in the past couple of years as his eventual investment successors at Berkshire. One of these noted that Buffett had once answered that his investment “secret” was that he reads 500 pages per week. (To that I would add his ability to do math in his head and his possibly photographic memory and the fact that he been reading those 500 pages per week for about 70 years now.) People who think his special connections are his secret are wrong and fail to explain what his secret was 60 years ago when he was virtually unknown and his annual returns were higher than today. Yes, he does indeed benefit from special connections but that advantage is outweighed by his disadvantage in having to now manage about $200 billion of assets. I think he could earn far higher annual percentage returns if he was working with just $100 million and relied on no special connections. That was the situation about 55 years ago and he was stomping all over the S&P 500 returns in those days. Anyhow, any special connections he has grew out his own hard work over the years.

It seems to me that an awful lot can be learned from Buffett about how to grow the smaller amounts of investments that each of us possess.

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