May 8, 2007

How to be a better investor – from Warren buffett and Charlie munger

Berkshire had their annual meeting on May 5th and 6th. During the Q&A session the following question was asked on how to become a better investor. I have read something similar from warren buffett earlier and could not resist posting the answer to the question again. The reply goes to the heart of becoming a better investor and I try to follow it in an effort to improve myself as an investor. Time will tell if I have been successful at it or not.

What is best way to a become better investor? Get an MBA, is it genetic, read more “Poor Charlie's Almanac”?

WB: Read everything you can. In my own case, by the time I was 10, I read every book in the Omaha Public Library that had to do with investing, and many I read twice. You just have to fill up your mind with competing thoughts and then sort them out as to what makes sense over time. And once you've done that, you ought to jump in the water. The difference between investing on paper and in real money is like the difference in just reading a romance novel and…doing something else. The earlier you start the better in terms of reading. I read a book at 19 that formed my framework ever since. What I'm doing today at 76 is running things in the same thought pattern that I got from a book at 19. Read, and then on small scale do some of it yourself.

CM: Sandy Gottesman, runs a large and successful investment operation. Notice his employment practices. When someone comes in to interview with Sandy, no matter his hage, Sandy asks, “what do you own and why do you own it?” And if you haven't been interested enough in the subject to know, you better go somewhere else.

WB: If you buy a farm, you'd say “I'm buying this because I expect it to produce 120 bushels per acre, etc…from your calculations, not based on what you saw on television that day or what a neighbor said. It should be the same thing with stock. Take a yellow pad, and say I'm going to buy GM for $18 billion, and here's why. And if you cant write a good essay on the subject, you have no business buying one share.

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