At a recent conference at Georgetown University, investing legend Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-B ) sat down with Bank of America's (NYSE: BAC ) Brian Moynihan to discuss various topics, including Buffett's commitment to philanthropy through The Giving Pledge, his upbringing and involvement in investing as a child, and his general thoughts surrounding investing in the past, present, and future.
As always, Buffett was full of wisdom, and following are five new quotes from the Oracle of Omaha that we can all take to heart as we seek to emulate his investing values.
1. "I've always had fun working, but I have as much fun now as I ever had in my life."
As Moynihan and Buffett first took to the stage, Buffett noted that while he is certainly not as young or spry as he once was, he certainly still enjoys his day job at Berkshire Hathaway. While rumors have abounded about when Buffett will step down as CEO, we can all take heart knowing he not only enjoys what he's doing, but in fact enjoys it more than he ever has.
For instance, take the most recent Berkshire Hathaway investment in NV Energy (NYSE: NVE ) , valued at $10 billion. While many wondered what Buffett would use his famed "elephant gun" on, it turns out he used it this time around to buy an energy company few had heard of. Here we see that Buffett still truly enjoys and excels in finding valuable companies many may overlook.
2. "It's very important to have the right framework. You need to have an approach to investing that's sound. ... [I]f you have the right philosophy, you will find opportunities as you go through the next 20, 30, 40, 50 years."
When a student asked whether he had any specific companies he would invest in, Buffett touted the same investing approach he always has, which are the principles of value investing he learned under Benjamin Graham. It's that approach that has allowed him to have so much success.
While Moynihan joked with the student and told him "just buy Bank of America and you'll be set; it worked all right for [Buffett]," that's actually a great example of Buffett's framework. His often-cited quote to "be greedy when others are fearful" embodies the philosophy that probably led him to invest $5 billion in the once-struggling bank, which has seen its stock more than double since Buffett invested in August 2011.
3. "Most stocks at one time or another sell at very silly prices, and it doesn't take a high IQ to figure out that they're cheap, but it does take a temperament that is willing to step up and actually act."
Buffett's often-touted contrarian philosophy is not one that can be copied through simple research and analysis, but it also requires action.
At the height of the financial crisis, Buffett invested $3 billion in American industrial icon General Electric (NYSE: GE ) , whose finance division had caused investors to flee the renowned company. Although the market was collapsing all around him, Buffett saw that it was yet again a time where it paid to act and act quickly, as it was reported that the investment netted Buffett $1.2 billion.
4. "This system works ... this country works. I consider the luckiest person on a probabilistic basis that ever lived is the baby that is born today in the United States. It is a fabulous country."
Here Buffett reminds us what a privilege it is to call America home. While the nation's economic position has been come into question since the financial crisis, these reassuring words from Buffett should give any investor confidence in the continued economic recovery.
In fact, Buffett revealed his own affinity toward U.S. companies in the most recent disclosure of Berkshire investments. There are 19 U.S. companies with a total investment value of $84 billion topping the list, before we find the first international one, Calgary-based Suncor Energy (NYSE: SU ) , in which Buffett has invested only a little over $500 million.
5. "If you're good at one thing, you're not necessarily good at another. You ought to use your talents where they're most useful and get others to use theirs."
Investors should heed carefully these words and attempt to stick to their own circles of competence. For example, Buffett's circle includes the financial industry, as evidenced by his investments in Bank of America and GE, in addition to Berkshire's largest holding, $19 billion in Wells Fargo. The key here is understanding that if energy companies or other industries aren't your specialty, let others invest there, because you won't have the same edge.
As always, Warren Buffett is full of wisdom, and paying attention to the lessons embodied in these five quotes will make us all better investors.
Even more words from Warren
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