5 Questions to Ask Warren Buffett If You Have $1 Million to Spare

Lunch with Warren Buffett is up for auction, and there are five key questions to ask him about Bank of America, his life, and much more.

Jun 7, 2014 at 1:58PM

Buffett

Have a few million to spare? Put it to good use and see if you can win the charity-auction to grab lunch with Warren Buffett.

At the time of writing, the auction to each lunch with Warren Buffett, the billionaire founder of Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK-A)(NYSE:BRK-B), stands at $1.2 million. All the proceeds go to a San Francisco charity, GLIDE, which offers "comprehensive services that emphasize unconditional love, healing, personal empowerment and self-affirmation," to thousands so they can "overcome the effects of human suffering, poverty and homelessness"

And while I can still support GLIDE, there's no doubt it won't come in the form of winning the auction to sit at a table with Buffett. But if I did, there would be five questions I'd have for him about both his investments, his life, and beyond.

1. Has your opinion on Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) changed in any way?
On December 31, the $5 billion intiail position Berkshire Hathaway had in Bank of America was worth nearly $11 billion. In the annual report, Buffett noted simply:

[I]t is important for you to realize that Bank of America is, in effect, our fifth largest equity investment and one we value highly.

Yet over the first half of the year, Bank of America has come to terms with a $6.3 billion cash settlement with the FHFA, it's reported to be soon shelling out another $12 billion more, and regrettably noted it made accounting errors in its stress test submission to the Federal Reserve. All of this will cost its shareholders billions.

It would be fascinating to know if any of these events have changed his opinion on Bank of America. I don't suspect they did, but it'd be comforting to hear from the Oracle of Omaha himself.

2. Can you talk more about the elephants you're on the hunt for now? What about those you couldn't get?

Buffett


Buffett has long described companies he's trying buy outright as "elephants" that are worth between $5 billion and $20 billion. In this year's letter he said honestly, "Charlie and I search for elephants," so it'd be fascinating to know -- even if he didn't name names -- where he's on the hunt.

And while we were on the subject of elephants, his quote from 2012 has always stuck out:

The second disappointment in 2012 was my inability to make a major acquisition. I pursued a couple of elephants, but came up empty-handed.

It'd be neat to know -- and I suspect he could probably say it now -- exactly which elephants he "pursued."

3. What are some of your biggest regrets? What can they teach us?
We know a lot of about the countless successes he's had, but Buffett has been happy to share mistakes he's made through the years.

Some of them have come from the fact he hasn't asked longtime business partner Charlie Munger. Others have come from impatience or neglect.

I'd like to know if there are any we haven't heard of, but have shaped who he's been and the decisions he's made. Or perhaps there are things that aren't necessarily a mistake he's made, but something hasn't done that he regrets.

Buffett is human just like you and I, so I'd like to learn more about things he's done he wishes he hasn't, or the things he didn't do that he wishes he did.

4. What 3 (or 1 or 5 or 10) things do you look at when gauging the value of a business?
One of my favorite Buffett quotes is:

Price is what you pay, value is what you get.

And he learned that learned from his mentor Ben Graham. While Ben is the author of several investing books Buffett recommends, it'd be fascinating to know what specific numbers Buffett gauges to value a business.

In 2006, he bought 80% of a $5 billion company after he'd received a 1 ¼ page letter from the CEO of a business he'd never heard of. Last year, it was revealed the value of that company had more than doubled.

So if there are any specific numbers that he uses to gauge the true value of a business relative to its price, I'd love to know what they are.

5. Are you looking for anyone to work for you in Omaha?
I figured it wouldn't hurt to ask!

1 Question that has already been answered by Buffett
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Patrick Morris owns shares of Bank of America and Berkshire Hathaway. The Motley Fool recommends Bank of America and Berkshire Hathaway. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America and Berkshire Hathaway. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not 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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