Later this quarter, Warren Buffett will release Berkshire Hathaway's annual report for the 2014 calendar year. The release will make headlines, as Buffett's legions of value-investing fans will pour through his letter to shareholders.
For an audience like we have here at The Motley Fool, Buffett's letters are already very well known. Today, I hope to expand your 2015 reading list and point to three more shareholder letters worth your time and attention.
1. Markel (NYSE:MKL)'s Tom Gaynor
Markel Corp is a company structured very similarly to Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway. Markel is an insurance company that uses its float to fund investments selected by Chief Investment Officer and renowned valued investor Tom Gaynor. Many even go so far as to predict that Gaynor could one day achieve the same success, status, and notoriety that Buffett commands today.
Gaynor has been running Markel's investment division since 1990, and his results speak for themselves. For the five years ending December 2013, the equity investment portfolio returned 21.6% annually. During the last 10 years, the portfolio returned 12.4% annually. That beats the S&P 500 by about 3% and 5%, respectively. Since Gaynor took over the investment portfolio, Markel's stock price has stomped the S&P 500 by more than six times.
Like Berkshire, Markel produces a very well-executed and informative letter to shareholders every year. You can find the historical letters here. (You have to scroll down a touch, but you'll see the heading.)
2. JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM)'s Jamie Dimon
I look forward to JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon's annual reflections more than any of the others except Buffett's.
One of the benefits (and an unimaginable challenge) of heading the largest bank in the U.S. is that you're responsible for managing assets that reach into every nook and cranny of the nation. You are knee deep in macroeconomics, policy and politics, financial markets of all shapes and sizes, and you're also managing the largest balance sheet in the U.S. financial system. All of that gives Dimon a view of the financial world that only a privileged few can see.
Fortunately for the rest of us, Dimon gives us a window into that world each year in a very well-written, informative, and interesting shareholder letter. His letters from the years surrounding the financial crisis will undoubtedly be studied in business schools for generations to come.
3. Robert Wilmers of M&T Bank (NYSE:MTB)
Yes, Robert Wilmers is the second bank CEO on this list -- he heads regional player M&T Bank -- but please bear with me for just a minute as I explain why he has more great insight you need on your reading list.
Wilmers runs one of Buffett's most successful investments, a partnership that has crushed the market for more than 25 years. I've even argued that Wilmers is the prototype for what all chief executives should be. And even though he is the CEO of a regional bank, there is a ton of value for investors of all stripes in each of his letters.
What I like most about Wilmers is his frank assessment of the economy, the markets, and the business he runs. What you see is what you get, and what you see is a conservative, long-term philosophy that would make Warren Buffett smile.