• Jeff Matthews

Warren Buffett, Mercenary

Well at least Buffett laid off the politics. His 2011 letter, which is available here and should be read in its entirety (instead of via the thousands of recaps currently going up all over the Internet), is classic Buffett: a review of 2011 (busy), some self-flagellation (not much, mainly some bad bond purchases), props to Berkshire managers (and Brian Moynihan, of all people), lessons for anyone interested in the art of investing (pages 17-19), and the big headline news: Buffett finally has a successor approved by the Berkshire board (no doubt triggered by last year’s Sokol Affair). Along the way there are plenty of good lines, in the Buffett fashion, and finally (after decades worth) no nagging wife-sort of jokes. And no politics, either. But our favorite line comes during the discussion of the Berkshire share buyback, when he cautions investors that he has no interest in doing anything goofy like most public companies that buy their stock, come hell or high water, in order to fulfill the mantra that they are ‘returning value to shareholders’: “You should know, however, that we have no interest in supporting the stock and that our bids will fade in particularly weak markets.” That’s why Buffett got so rich in the first place: when it comes to investing, he’s strictly a mercenary. JM

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