Key Takeaways from the 2015 Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting

May 3, 2015

I’m really bummed that I wasn’t able to attend this year’s meeting. Since I couldn’t go, I looked up summaries from Morningstar and the Wall Street Journal. If you weren’t able to attend as well, I noted Warren Buffett’s (WB) and Charlie Munger’s (CM) comments that struck me the most. I hope this blog post saves you time compared to reading both Morningstar and WSJ articles in full.

  • Investing/Business
    • WB: We have no interest in talking up stocks we own. We want to buy more in the future and we’d rather have the price be lower. We would say pessimistic things about all four of our biggest holdings because all four are repurchasing shares as of the moment.
    • CM: If we always talked about stocks we owned, we wouldn’t be rich.
    • CM: We don’t have a one size fits all system to buy firms. We have no formula. Every industry is different and we keep learning. We have no formula to give you, but we try to learn from the past.
    • WB: Mostly looking for things to stop you from doing a deal. Biggest question, do we want to be in a partnership with this person?
    • WB: The whole thing in business is being open to ideas as they come along.
    • WB: China has even more speculative forces than the US, this might create opportunities.
    • CM: How could anything makes sense other than value investing?
    • WB: We lean toward things awe are certain to get a good result versus a chance of a great result.
    • CM: We make some of our luck by being curious.
  • Overall market valuation
    • WB: The interest rate environment we live in makes historical valuation comparisons challenging. Stocks are selling at high prices historically, but you need to look at them in the context of interest rates, we are still in a low interest rate environment. If we continue with these interest rates, stocks will look very cheap.
  • Economics
    • WB (I think): Any company that has one economist has one employee too many.
    • CM: The problem with economic forecasts is that it makes you think you know something. Better to just say you are ignorant.
  • Business School/College
    • CM: I never had any business school training, why should you have any training?
    • WB mocks the Efficient Market Theory taught in business schools.
    • Both: Be skeptical of stats of how much more your earnings will be because of college.
  • Life
    • WB: There’s a lot to be said about being happy about what you are doing. If I lived my whole life eating broccoli and Brussel sprouts, I wouldn’t live as long. Eating broccoli is like going to jail.
    • CM: Sugar prevents premature softening of the arteries. If I die early, I will just be avoiding a few months in the nursing home. Sugar is a healthy substance!
    • WB: You don’t see people smiling at Whole Foods.
    • Both stressed the importance of reputation.
    • WB: Look at people you admire and copy the characteristics you like.
    • CM: Your main duty in life is to be as rational as you can be. Being rational is a moral end.
    • CM: There is more to life than being shrewd at picking stocks and passively holding them.
Full summaries:
http://news.morningstar.com/articlenet/article.aspx?id=695453
http://blogs.wsj.com/moneybeat/2015/05/02/live-analysis-the-2015-berkshire-hathaway-annual-meeting/

 

If you know someone who might benefit from Warren Buffett’s and Charlie Munger’s wisdom, please share this blog post with them.

If you plan on going to next year’s Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting, let me know, I would love to meet you there.

If you attended this year’s meeting, please send me an email, I would love to hear your experience and what lessons you have learned.

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