10 Great Buffett Quotes From Berkshire Hathaway Inc.'s Annual Meeting

Every year, thousands of investors flock to Omaha to hear the wisdom of Warren Buffett. In this article, Brendan Mathews highlights 10 of his favorite quotes from the Oracle.

May 11, 2014 at 8:00AM


Photo: Matt Koppenhoffer, The Motley Fool.

Every year, thousands of investors flock to Omaha to hear the wisdom of Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger. For as long as six hours, with only one break for lunch, the two business legends take questions from investors, the press, and analysts. Appropriately for a shareholder meeting, the focus is the business of Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK-B) (NYSE:BRK-A), but it's not the only topic they discuss. To cover the event, we sent eight analysts to Omaha.

Following are my top 10 Buffett quotes from the six-hour session. It's not an official transcript. But we've captured the essence of Buffett's wisdom, and I hope you find this a useful, enjoyable read.

1. Corporate boards: 

The so-called independent directors are receiving $200,000 to $300,000 per year, but they are not independent. How would you feel about going to work four to six days per year with pleasant company, prestige, and pay of $300,000 per year? I'm assuming you'd like to get another job like that. Companies are not looking for Dobermans on the board; they are looking for Cocker spaniels. Social dynamics are important in boards.

2. Cost of capital:

Our cost of capital is the production of our second-best ideas. I have listened to so many nonsensical cost-of-capital discussions. I have heard CFOs talk about it, but nobody knows what it is. The real test is whether the capital that we retain generates more in market value than is retained.

3. Partnership with Charlie Munger:

Charlie and I have never had an argument. We met when I was 29 and he was 35. We have disagreed on a lot of things, but it never has [led] and never will lead to an argument. We argue with other people. 

4. Advantages of allocating capital within Berkshire:

Capitalism is about allocating capital, and we can do that without tax consequences. We can take money from [See's Candies] and move it to the place of best return, as the situation says, be it wind farms or whatever. And nobody is better to do that than Berkshire

5. Circle of competence: 

Being realistic when realizing you own shortcomings is important. There are a number of CEOs who don't know where their circle begins and ends! The best really know when they are playing the game that they're going to win. ... When you're playing the game, versus playing outside the game, knowing the difference is a huge asset.

6. On money and happiness:

There are things money can't buy. I don't think standard of living equates with cost of living beyond a certain point. Good housing, good health, good food, good transport. There's a point you start getting inverse correlation between wealth and quality of life.

7. Intrinsic value: 

The intrinsic value of any business is the present value of all cash distributed between now and Judgment Day. We're not perfect in judging that, by the way. Aesop said a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush, in 600 B.C., and that hasn't been improved much by business professors since then.

8. Owning a sports team:

I owned a quarter of a minor-league team, but it's not responsible for my position on the Forbes 400. No, I'm not interested in buying a sports team. If you hear us doing it, it might be time to talk to our successors.

9. On financial literacy and education: 

Habits are such a powerful force in everyone's life, including good financial habits. Digging yourself out of the holes that financial illiteracy can cause can take a lifetime. ... A big problem is adult financial literacy. It's harder to be smarter unless the schools intercede. A lot can be done on TV and the Internet, but it is really important to have good financial habits, and anything the school system can do will help.

10. Breaking up Berkshire Hathaway:

Berkshire is worth more under its current structure than in any other.

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Brendan Mathews owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out Warren Buffett recently told a select number of investors about the cutting-edge technology that's keeping him awake at night.

This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.
The catch was: Attendees weren't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video. 

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

That's how Buffett responded when asked about this emerging market that is already expected to be worth more than $2 trillion in the U.S. alone. Google has already put some of its best engineers behind the technology powering this trend. 

The amazing thing is, while Buffett may be nervous, the rest of us can invest in this new industry BEFORE the old money realizes what hit them.

KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

Think about how many amazing technologies you've watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, "I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands." 

Don't let that happen again. This time, it should be your family telling you, "I can't believe you knew about and invested in that technology so early on."

That's why I hope you take just a few minutes to access the exclusive research our team of analysts has put together on this industry and the one stock positioned to capitalize on this major shift.

Click here to learn about this incredible technology before Buffett stops being scared and starts buying!

David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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