6 Things We Learned About Warren Buffett From His Recent Shareholder Meeting
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Warren Buffett has been in business for a long time. The 87 year old famously got his start with investing when he was just 11. And at Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholders meeting in Omaha, Neb., this weekend, he and business partner Charlie Munger -- the company’s 94-year-old vice chairman -- shared their insights about making investments and a glance at where the company is headed.
Read on for six things we learned from the meeting.
1. He still isn’t a fan of cryptocurrency.
Buffett described his feelings about it in no uncertain terms, describing bitcoin as "probably rat poison squared.” He elaborated on his stance, noting, “cryptocurrencies will come to bad endings.” Munger took it a step further, describing the move to invest in cryptocurrency as “just dementia. It’s like somebody else is trading turds and you decide you can’t be left out.”
2. He doesn’t hold a lot of stock in traditional career trajectories.
At the start of his career, Buffett was rejected from Harvard Business School, but that opened the door to go to Columbia University. He got to the venerable university by writing cold letters to the professors whose work he admired. But Buffett said at the shareholders meeting that when it comes to hiring, he admires hustle more than a prestigious degree.
Buffett: “If I was given a choice btwn hiring some1 out of grad school that was brilliant or some1 that memorized chapter 8 of the “Intelligent Investor,” I’d take the one who memorized chapter 8. What we do doesn’t take a high IQ. It takes discipline and it takes time.”#BRK2018— Steve Haberstroh (@stevehaberstroh) May 5, 2018
3. Friendship informs his investment choices.
When asked about why he favored Apple stock over Microsoft, Buffett explained his reasoning pretty succinctly: “In the earlier years, it’s very clear, the answer is stupidity," he said. But as he became close friends with fellow billionaire Bill Gates, he decided just to take it off the table entirely. "I try to stay away from a few things just totally because the inference would be drawn that we might have talked, I might have talked to somebody about something.”
Gates was in attendance at the meeting, and the billionaire pals, in lieu of their usual ping pong match, decided to play a game of bridge.
4. He shared his stance on guns and business.
In conversation with New York Times reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin, Buffett shared that while he wasn’t aware of any Berkshire Hathaway subsidiaries that had any holdings in companies that make firearms, “I do not believe on imposing my political opinions on the activities of our businesses. If you get into which of our companies are pure and which ones aren’t pure, I think it will be very difficult.”
5. He shed light on why he doesn't invest in Amazon.
Apparently part of Buffett’s investment strategy is to not put his money into something that seems to good to be true, and Amazon, even for all its success, falls into that category. “I’ve watched Amazon from the start, and I think what Jeff Bezos has done is something close to a miracle," he said. "The problem is that if I think something will be a miracle, I tend not to bet on it.”
6. He reflected on what Berkshire Hathaway will be without Buffett and Munger.
Though the octogenarian and nonagenarian aren’t leaving the company in the immediate future, when asked about what might happen when someone else has taken the reins of the company, Buffett said that he wasn’t worried. "The reputation belongs to Berkshire now," he said. "For somebody that cares about a business … we absolutely are the first call and will continue to be the first call."