More Buffett Munger 08 shareholder Q&A

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I quoted some questions which are relevant for little guys (like me). The full transcript can be located at gurufocus. WB: Warren Buffett, CM: Charlie Munger, MX: yours truely.

BTW, I bought one more BRK.B yesterday, at $4130, not the lowest price of the day but about 5% off the price I bought for my first share. A few things happened since April 3 the day I bought it: the CEO of General Re resigned because of AIG scandal; Mars Wrigley deal; annual shareholder meeting (BRK.A and BRK.B both ran before the meeting); the Q1 earning result was not good because of paper loss of stock index derivatives. But I don’t think those things worsened the value of BRK in anyway.

Q9: Melbourne Auz. Berkshire has bought a lot of shares in last twelve months in listed companies. Do you expect return to be between 7-10% pa over many years? Well below achievements in past.

WB: Yes. We would be very happy if we could buy pretax returns of 10%, dividends included. We would probably settle for a little less than that. Berkshire returns will be less, no question, in future than in past. We operate now in universe of marketable stocks with caps of 10bil, but really 50bil and up in order to have an impact. This universe is not as profitable. If we find 10bil, a 5% position is 500mil. If it doubles, we make 325m, this is less than 2/10ths of 1%. We have found things to do time to time to make money. They are nice, but don’t move needle much at Berkshire. Anyone who expects us to replicate past should sell their stock. We’ll get decent returns, but not indecent returns.

CM: You can take Warren’s promises to bank. We are happy making money at lower rate in future, and we suggest you adopt the same attitude. You may have better things to do with your money than buying Berkshire. You will find things that are more intelligent, if you spend the time. We don’t think it is the most attractive investment in world. We like buying good size to very large with good management. Nice formula, it should work well over time.
Q12: Germany, high school. What should I do with my life?

WB: We prefer questions that are harder. [laughter]

Q12 cont: what would you do if you started over?

WB: You have to find your passion in life. I would choose same job. I enjoy it. It is a terrible mistake to sleep walk through your life. Unless Shirley Maclain is right you won’t have another one. Dad had a business, with books on his shelves and they turned me on. This was before Playboy. If he was a minister I’m not sure I would have been as enthused. If you have obligations, you have to deal with realities. Go to work for organization you admire or an individual you admire. Which also means most MBAs I meet would be self employed. [laughter] I went to work for Ben Graham. I never asked my salary. Get the right spouse. Charlie talks about the man who spent twenty years looking for a perfect woman and found her. Unfortunately she was looking for perfect man. If you are lucky, you will be happy and as a result you will behave better. It makes it easier.

CM: You’ll do better if you have passion for something in which you have aptitude. If Warren had gone into ballet, no one would have heard of him.

WB: Or would have heard of me very differently.

MX: I wish all the young men have listened to Munger’s perfect man joke.
Q23: With small sums of money, what strategies would you pursue?

WB: If I were working with small sums of money, it would open up thousands of possibilities. We found very mispriced bonds. We found them in Korea a few years ago. You made big returns but had to be small size. I wouldn’t be in currencies with small amount of money. I had a friend who used to buy tax liens. I’d look in small stocks or specialized bonds. Wouldn’t you say that Charlie?

CM: Sure.


(Youtube: interview with the Berkshire Shareholders)

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