Anyone interested in the stock market, investing, or money matters has likely encountered Warren Buffett's stock picks, advice, or legendary tales.
He holds the title as the greatest investor alive, and unlike many billionaires, he's willing to teach us how to financially fish.
But with so much out there, it's hard to narrow it down to the essential Buffett.
That's what our aim is here. Whether you want a list of Buffett's favorite stocks, the lowdown on his investing techniques, or some advanced reading, this is where you'll find it.
Let's start with the billion-dollar topic:
How to invest like Warren Buffett
Buffett bought his first stock at age 11 using the information available to any other investor. Now well into his eighties, he's still at it.
At this point, he buys companies outright for his company, Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK-A) (NYSE:BRK-B), and can pull off the exotic deal here and there. But Buffett and his team manage over $200 billion (and growing) in stocks in public companies.
How does he do it? By spending a significant amount of time reading exactly what you and I can: 10-Ks, SEC filings, and likely earnings call transcripts.
One of the key differences between him and most of the rest of us who get excited for each morning's stock market open is his amazing focus. It's like he's running both a sprint and a marathon. You learn a ton from reading a company's annual report. But what if you do it on a company for 20, 30, 40, 50+ straight years? And for all its competitors? And for companies in completely different industries, even the ones you'd never actually be interested in investing in?
Few of us start early enough and have the level of consistent focus to become the next Warren Buffett, but each of us has the chance to become a better investor by heeding these seven principles:
- Invest in what you know.
- Learn the basics of value investing.
- Identify cheap stocks.
- Find businesses that will stand the test of time.
- Invest in good management.
- Be aggressive during tough times.
- Keep a long-term mind-set.
Warren Buffett's latest stock picks
When you're the world's most renowned stock picker, everyone wants your latest hot stock tip. As much as Buffett shares his wisdom, he's mum on his next moves. There are many reasons for this, including the fact that if he told us, a whole bunch of people would pile into the company and he would get a worse stock price.
But luckily for us, the Securities and Exchange Commission requires investment managers of Berkshire Hathaway's size to disclose their equity moves in a quarterly 13F.
As part of Buffett's succession planning, he's been giving increasing amounts of the portfolio over to Todd Combs and Ted Weschler, but he still controls the bulk of it and accounts for the largest moves.
Read more: Buffett's first-quarter buys and sells.
Buffett's top 10 stock holdings
While Berkshire Hathaway's quarterly buys and sells show his latest moves, it's also good to take a step back and see what the largest holdings are:
- Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL)
- Bank of America (NYSE:BAC)
- Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC)
- Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO)
- American Express (NYSE:AXP)
- Kraft Heinz (NASDAQ:KHC)
- U.S. Bancorp (NYSE:USB)
- JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM)
- Moody's (NYSE:MCO)
- Bank of New York Mellon (NYSE:BK)
Some things that jump out:
- These are huge companies! Buffett's success and riches mean he can't move the needle by buying shares in small-cap or even mid-cap companies.
- Seven of the 10 are banks or financials.
- The remaining three (Apple, Coca-Cola, and Kraft Heinz) are large consumer brands.
Read more analysis: Buffett's Top 10 Stock Holdings
Warren Buffett's top 100 quotes
Beyond his performance, a reason he is so famous is that he prefers pithiness to jargon.
If asked about one of the big risks in derivatives, a talking head in the financial news would probably talk about counterparty risk and complex instruments like collateralized debt obligations. Meanwhile, Buffett isn't afraid to get creative: "Derivatives are like sex. It's not who we're sleeping with, it's who they're sleeping with that's the problem."
Believe it or not, that one didn't make our top 100.
Read on: The 100 Best Warren Buffett Quotes
Warren Buffett's dividend strategies
If you glance up at Buffett's top 10 stocks, you may notice that every single one pays a dividend.
Meanwhile, you may also notice that the company Buffett runs, Berkshire Hathaway, doesn't pay a dividend.
Clearly, there's some nuance to Buffett's thinking on dividends...
Buffett's thoughts on each asset class: stocks, bonds, gold...and even bitcoin
As you think about where to put your money, the percentage you put in each bucket can be just as important (or more important) than what you do with each bucket.
For instance, if you beat the market every year with your stock picks, but stocks are only 1% of your portfolio, does it make much difference to your financial security or retirement plans?
Let's check in on what Uncle Warren thinks about many of the popular options...
The Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholders meeting
Each year, about 40,000 people attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholders meeting, aka Woodstock for Capitalists.
It's pretty amazing that an investing conference gets as many people to show up as a major sporting event. In Omaha, Nebraska, no less. And that's not even counting the people who watch on Yahoo! Finance's livestream.
At its core, the annual meeting is Warren Buffett and his partner Charlie Munger on stage for a few hours answering any and all questions from a selected group of esteemed journalists as well as any attendee who gets there early enough to queue up at the microphones.
Bookending the Q&A is a humorous "company movie" beforehand and the generally uneventful actual business meeting afterward. This year in the Q&A, we got to hear from key lieutenants Greg Abel and Ajit Jain on a few questions. No luck for those who wanted to hear hot stock tips from Ted and Todd -- Buffett says they don't speak because he doesn't want them to give away any investing special sauce.
Extended out, it's a whole weekend of festivities, including shopping at Berkshire-related vendors exhibiting at the CHI Health Center, a picnic at Nebraska Furniture Mart, a 5-k race, shareholder steak night at Gorat's (one of Warren's favorite restaurants), etc.
For those who don't want to sit through the eight-hour stream, we highlight the most interesting bits each year.
The Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder letter
Perhaps an even better way to get Buffett's distilled wisdom than traveling to Omaha is reading his yearly missive to shareholders. Every edition brings both specific insights into Berkshire's business as well as general insights into investing.
You can access them all here from Berkshire's site.
And, of course, we provide a summary each year...
The 5 best books on Warren Buffett
Buffett's written a lot himself, but much more has been written about him. If you're trying to get deeper looks into his strategies or just what makes him tick, start with these five:
Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist, by Roger Lowenstein
The Warren Buffett Way, by Robert G. Hagstrom
The Warren Buffett CEO, by Robert P. Miles
The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life, by Alice Schroeder
Tap Dancing to Work: Warren Buffett on Practically Everything, 1966-2013, by Carol J. Loomis
Read more: The 5 Best Books on Warren Buffett
Warren Buffett FAQ
How old is Warren Buffett?
He's 88 as of this writing. He was born on Aug. 30, 1930.
What is his net worth?
It's north of $80 billion. Depending on the day, he's the third-richest person in the world behind Jeff Bezos (and family) and Bill Gates. And that's after deciding in 2006 to start giving away 99% of his wealth (and all of his Berkshire Hathaway stock) to charity during his lifetime or at his death. He's already given away tens of billions of dollars.
Where did he go to school?
As an undergraduate, he attended Wharton at the University of Pennsylvania before transferring to the University of Nebraska. For graduate school, he went to Columbia Business School.
Which investors influenced him?
Buffett has said his investing style is "85% Graham and 15% Fisher."
Graham is Benjamin Graham, "The Father of Value Investing." He wrote The Intelligent Investor and co-wrote Security Analysis with David Dodd. He was Buffett's professor and mentor at Columbia Business School and his boss for a bit.
Fisher is Philip Fisher, a pioneer in growth investing and the author of Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits.
While Graham and Fisher were Buffett's investing heroes, his business partner Charlie Munger has likely been his strongest peer influence.