When reading Berkshire Hathaway’s annual letters or hearing him speak, one can always take away a few great quotes from value investor extraordinaire Warren Buffett. It should come as no surprise that he is so good at dishing out words of wisdom. After all, he is known as the Oracle of Omaha. We thought it would be prudent to assemble some of his best advice in one cohesive post.
1. “Rule No.1: Never lose money. Rule No.2: Never forget rule No.1”
2. “In a bull market, one must avoid the error of the preening duck that quacks boastfully after a torrential rainstorm, thinking that its paddling skills have caused it to rise in the world. A right-thinking duck would instead compare its position after the downpour to that of the other ducks on the pond.”
3. “The fact that people will be full of greed, fear or folly is predictable. The sequence is not predictable.”
4. “Be fearful when others are greedy. Be greedy when others are fearful.”
5. “It’s far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.”
6. “When a management with a reputation for brilliance tackles a business with a reputation for bad economics, it is usually the reputation of the business that remains intact.”
7. “You only find out who is swimming naked when the tide goes out.”
8. “Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.”
9. “If I was running $1 million today, or $10 million for that matter, I’d be fully invested. Anyone who says that size does not hurt investment performance is selling. The highest rates of return I’ve ever achieved were in the 1950s. I killed the Dow. You ought to see the numbers. But I was investing peanuts then. It’s a huge structural advantage not to have a lot of money. I think I could make you 50% a year on $1 million. No, I know I could. I guarantee that.”
10. “Whether we’re talking about socks or stocks, I like buying quality merchandise when it is marked down.”
11. “I try to buy stock in businesses that are so wonderful that an idiot can run them. Because sooner or later, one will.”
12. “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.”
13. “I don’t look to jump over 7-foot bars: I look around for 1-foot bars that I can step over.”
14. “If a business does well, the stock eventually follows.”
15. “Look at market fluctuations as your friend rather than your enemy; profit from folly rather than participate in it.”
16. “Most people get interested in stocks when everyone else is. The time to get interested is when no one else is. You can’t buy what is popular and do well.”
17. “The line separating investment and speculation, which is never bright and clear, becomes blurred still further when most market participants have recently enjoyed triumphs. Nothing sedates rationality like large doses of effortless money. After a heady experience of that kind, normally sensible people drift into behavior akin to that of Cinderella at the ball. They know that overstaying the festivities — that is, continuing to speculate in companies that have gigantic valuations relative to the cash they are likely to generate in the future — will eventually bring on pumpkins and mice. But they nevertheless hate to miss a single minute of what is one helluva party. Therefore, the giddy participants all plan to leave just seconds before midnight. There’s a problem, though: They are dancing in a room in which the clocks have no hands.”
18. “Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks.”
19. “Never count on making a good sale. Have the purchase price be so attractive that even a mediocre sale gives good results.”
20. “Investors making purchases in an overheated market need to recognize that it may often take an extended period for the value of even an outstanding company to catch up with the price they paid.”
21. “I like to go for cinches. I like to shoot fish in a barrel. But I like to do it after the water has run out.”
22. “We don’t get paid for activity, just for being right. As to how long we’ll wait, we’ll wait indefinitely.”
23. “In the business world, the rearview mirror is always clearer than the windshield.”
24. “The investor of today does not profit from yesterday’s growth.”
25. “Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”
Great investing advice as always from Warren Buffett. And, in spirit of the market crisis, we wanted to toss this nice bonus quote in as well: “When you combine ignorance and leverage, you get some pretty interesting results. ” Some of the investment banks (and even Warren himself) should have listened to that sound advice.
To learn more about Buffett and his investing ways, we highly recommend perusing the following reads:
– The Essays of Warren Buffett by the Oracle himself: Lessons from Warren Buffett over the years.
– The Warren Buffett Way by Robert Hagstrom: Outline of Buffett’s tenets for investing.
– The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham. If you had to own one book about value investing, this would most likely be it. Benjamin Graham was a legendary investor who helped pioneer the ways of value investing and taught Warren Buffett a lot of what he knows today.
– The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life by Alice Schroeder. She was hand picked by Buffett to be his biographer.