April 25, 2005

Warren Buffett's talk with students at Tuck school of business

I came across a transcript buffett's talk with the students at Tuck school of business. I have pasted the link below. What i found intersting (actually the entire talk was very interesting) were the replies to the following two questions

Q: I have worked in various technologies businesses, but I understand that you do not typically invest in the technology sector. Why is that? How do you view technology as an individual and as an investor?
A: Technology is clearly a boost to business productivity and a driver of better consumer products and the like, so as an individual I have a high appreciation for the power of technology. I have avoided technology sectors as an investor because in general I don't have a solid grasp of what differentiates many technology companies. I don't know how to spot durable competitive advantage in technology. To get rich, you find businesses with durable competitive advantage and you don't overpay for them. Technology is based on change; and change is really the enemy of the investor. Change is more rapid and unpredictable in technology relative to the broader economy. To me, all technology sectors look like 7-foot hurdles.

Q: I worked in the paper and packaging business this past summer and really enjoyed my experience. None of my classmates are interested in the paper business and the company I worked for has not had MBA interns in years. Clearly the paper business has its challenges, but do you see this as an opportunity or a roadblock?
A: Well, you've got it right that the paper business is challenged. High capital intensity, low margins, cyclical. It is a brutal business; no one cares who made the box their Dell computer came shipped in. In general, commodity businesses, even you're the low-cost producer, are difficult. There are generally two recommendations I offer to college and business school graduates. The most important thing about where you work is that you admire/love it. So it sounds like you liked your experience, and that's great. But we come to my second recommendation, which is to get on the right train; that is, moving in the right direction. There's no course in business school called "Getting on the Right Train", but it's really important. You can be an average passenger but if you get on the right train it will carry you a long way. You want to learn from experience, but you want to learn from other people's experience when you can. Managing your career is like investing - the degree of difficulty does not count. So you can save yourself money and pain by getting on the right train.

So makes one think, how will some of the current 'performers' like maruti, tisco, telco and others will perform in the long run. Some of these have high return on equity, but is it sustainable over a complete business cycle

here's the link :http://mba.tuck.dartmouth.edu/pages/clubs/investment/WarrenBuffet.html

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