Every year, legendary investor Warren Buffett pens a letter to shareholders that accompanies Berkshire Hathaway’s annual report. It’s a must-read in my opinion and while this year’s was a bit shorter than in prior years, it still contained plenty of insightful learnings. I highly encourage you to read the full letter for yourself. Below I’m sharing a few lines that I highlighted as I soaked up Warren’s teachings for yet another year.
“The disposition of money unmasks humans” – Warren starts the letter by stating his belief that how you spend (and how you save) reveals a lot about your nature. He’s proud of the philanthropic tilt of Berkshire’s established investor base. Something I will definately keep in mind regarding my relationship with wealth over time
“Our goal… is to make meaningful investments in businesses with both long-lasting favorable characteristics and trustworthy managers” – straightforward and effective advice on how to build a durable portfolio
“The weeds wither away in significance as the flowers bloom. Over time, it takes just a few winners to work wonders” – a key reminder that not every investment will work out. Over time, as long as you get a few things right and have just a few winners, you will be just fine. Pull out the weeds, water the flowers, and try to plant a few more bulbs!
“We will also avoid behavior that could result in any uncomfortable cash needs at inconvenient times”– Berkshire is well-known for high levels of cash and treasuries. And while their liquidity levels may be multiples higher than most, the concept holds true for all investors. Keep enough liquidity on hand so that your portfolio will never needlessly suffer from an untimely withdrawal
“At Berkshire, there will be no finish line” – by retaining sufficient liquidity, focusing on high-quality businesses, and instilling trustworthy management teams, Berkshire will continue to exist well into the future. Such should be the goal for our portfolios as well. It’s a journey that will last your entire life – and then be carried onward by your heirs. Treat it as a lifelong pursuit – not a temporary activity
“America would have done fine without Berkshire. The reverse is not true….Despite out citizens’ penchant – almost enthusiasm – for self-criticism and self-doubt, I have yet to see a time when it made sense to make a long-term bet against America” – Warren frequently speaks and writes passionately about the American Tailwind – and this letter was another example of this core message. He credits this propelling force for much of his success and urges every day investors like you and me to not lose sight of the underlying strength of America and its economy
“You have to keep learning if you want to become a great investor. When the world changes, you must change” – the letter ends with quotes from Warren’s business partner Charlie Munger. No one says things quite like Charlie! I loved this reminder about learning and evolving as an investor. The past three years have proven his point and then some. Keep learning and adapting – and you and your financial journey will be the better for it
If you read the letter, which lines did you highlight? What was your favorite lesson? Hit reply and let me know.