Stock Investing

Sunday, 9th April 2017

What is your advantage?

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Habits, Stock Investing, Wealth Building

Advantage

Investing is a zero sum game. For each investor that is buying a security because he thinks that it is undervalued, another investor is selling the same security because she thinks that it is overvalued. This difference in opinion is what makes the market. If everyone wants to buy or sell the same security at the same time, there would be no one to take the other side of the trade and there would be no market.

Therefore, the most important concern for an investor is to consider who is at the other side of the trade.[…]

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Thursday, 5th May 2016

2016 Annual Berkshire Hathaway Shareholder’s Meeting

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Presentations, Stock Investing, Wealth Building

Berkshire Hathaway meeting

Berkshire Hathaway held its 51st shareholder’s meeting in Omaha on Saturday 30th of April. This was the first year that the meeting was also broadcast live through Live Feed Video and it will be available for 30 days after the meeting. This caused a drop in the number of people who attended the meeting this year in Omaha, because they could watch the event from home.

Here follow my notes from the meeting. The notes will not cover all the topics and they are my attempt to summarise their most important points.[…]

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Tuesday, 12th April 2016

Value investor’s guide to company valuation

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Books, Stock Investing

Company Valuation

The job of an investor in the stock of a company is to estimate a fair value for the company and then determine if the stock is trading for more or less than that price in the market. Buying companies for less than they are worth in the market is the basis of value investing. This style of investing became popular with Benjamin Graham and many people continue to practice it with success.

This post is based on the teachings of Bruce Greenwald. Bruce Greenwald is a professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business and he holds the post that Benjamin Graham did. Bruce continues to teach company valuation based on the principles that Ben pioneered. The information in this post is drawn from Bruce’s lectures in Columbia, his book “Value Investing: From Graham to Buffett and Beyond” and from various presentations and talk he gave.[…]

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Wednesday, 27th January 2016

Security Analysis by Ben Graham

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Books, Stock Investing, Wealth Building

Security Analysis by Ben Graham

Ben Graham published the second edition of Security Analysis in 1940 and many investors still consider it one of the best investment books ever written. The book is about 800 pages long and by no means is an easy read. This has discouraged a lot of people from reading the book and learning from the “father of security analysis”. The book does a great job of laying out the investment philosophy of Ben Graham and how to think about investments and businesses. He outlines principles about investing in bonds, preferred shares, warrant and common stocks and uses a lot of examples from companies in that era to demonstrate his thinking.[…]

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Friday, 16th October 2015

Business Moats

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Stock Investing, Wealth Building

Moat

One of the tasks of an analyst who is evaluating a business is to think about the moat of the business. But what is a moat? A simple way to think about moats is to imagine that the business is a castle and the moat it what surrounds the business and keeps other businesses at bay. Every business has a moat, but the difference is the size and the durability. Some businesses have narrow moats and other have wide ones. Some business moats are shrinking as time goes by, whereas others are widening. Ideally an analyst wants to find a business with a wide moat that keeps widening. One of the characteristics of the capitalist system is that a profitable business will attract more and more competitors and these competitors will test your moat repeatedly. Thus, the more successful a business is the harder it is to keep being successful and widen its moat. […]

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Friday, 29th May 2015

What makes Berkshire Hathaway special?

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Stock Investing

Charlie Munger

This years shareholder’s letter included for the first time a piece that was written by Berkshire Hathaway’s vice-chairman Charlie Munger. In his letter Charlie, reversed engineered the culture of Berkshire; how it operates and how it is run. He explains that all this was not based on any grand design or blueprint that Warren devised 50 years ago, but something that grew organically. Here is what Charlie has to say:

The management system and policies of Berkshire under Buffett (herein together called “the Berkshire system”) were fixed early and are described below:

(1) Berkshire would be a diffuse conglomerate, averse only to activities about which it could not make useful predictions.[…]

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Tuesday, 26th May 2015

Investment advice from Warren Buffett

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Personal Finance, Stock Investing, Wealth Building

Warren Buffett

A lot of people are still wondering where they should invest their money. Should they buy some stocks or are they too risky and they should invest in bonds instead. In his speeches and writings Warren Buffett has always said that a diversified portfolio of American businesses will provide the best long term results as long as the investor buys and holds wonderful businesses for the long term. His approach is simple so anyone can follow it and it delivers results with minimum supervision over the investments and minimum loss of sleep. He has followed his own advice and over 50 years it has helped him to build Berkshire Hathaway into a successful holding company. He is a man who follows his own advice. […]

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Tuesday, 5th May 2015

2015 Annual Berkshire Hathaway Shareholder’s Meeting

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Presentations, Stock Investing, Wealth Building

Berkshire Hathaway meeting

This time every year thousands of people from all over the world are gathering in Omaha to hear the words of Warren Buffett and his partner Charlie Munger. This year the crowd was about 44,000 people and they were not disappointed. The meeting started at 8:30 with the annual movie and at about 9:00, Warren and Charlie started the Q&A session. They answered question for about six hours on every topics. As always no questions were off limit.

Here follow my notes from the meeting. The notes will not cover all the topics and they are my attempt to summarise their most important points. […]

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Sunday, 3rd May 2015

Who will succeed Warren Buffett?

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Stock Investing

Warren Buffett

This is the question that many shareholders are asking every year. Berkshire Hathaway has grown from a small textile company to the 4th largest US company under the leadership of Warren Buffett and his partner Charlie Munger. Now, a lot of people fear that when the two great leaders are not running the company any more, this great story will come to end, because in many people’s eyes Berkshire Hathaway is Warren Buffett. This is a valid concern. Or is it not?

As Charlie once said, when asked about the future of Berkshire, “If your main concern in life is who will succeed Warren then you have any easy life”. […]

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Sunday, 18th May 2014

2014 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholder meeting notes and more

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Presentations, Stock Investing, Wealth Building

Berkshire Hathaway meeting

On Saturday 3rd of May I joined almost 38,000 other “students” to attend the master class for investors that is the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting. People started queuing at 2:30 am on Saturday in order to get a front seat to listen to Warren Buffett and his partner Charlie Munger. A student was paid $100 to start queuing at 3:00 am for a shareholder who arrived at 7:00 am to take his place in the line. As per usual, Warren Buffett and his long time business partner Charlie Munger sat on stage in Omaha, Nebraska, for over five hours answering questions from reporters, financial analysts, and Berkshire shareholders. Many shareholders had travelled great distances to be part of the weekend.[…]

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Wednesday, 12th March 2014

Lessons from Warren Buffet’s 2014 letter to shareholders

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Property Investing, Stock Investing, Wealth Building

Warren Buffett

On Saturday 1st of March, Warren Buffet released his 2013 annual letter to shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway. As always his letter is a great read, because it does not only tell you about his company but also gives general advice on investments and finance. He has been helping people for years to better understand the investment process and what they should look for and what to avoid. His insights on how to value companies are priceless. In addition, he sometimes gives general finance advice to help people who are not investment professionals themselves and they just want to look after their wealth and grow it.[…]

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Saturday, 23rd March 2013

How to value a business

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Stock Investing, Wealth Building

There seems to be a lot of confusion and discussion on how to value a business and determine what is a fair price to pay. If you are wondering whether to buy a share or the whole business you must be able to answer a simple question. How much is the value of the business and is the current price fair? After all a stock is part ownership of a business.

So let’s start from the beginning. Valuing a business is an eight step process and it takes time and effort.[…]

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Saturday, 12th May 2012

Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting 2012

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Seminars, Stock Investing, Wealth Building

Warren Buffet

Last weekend I went to Omaha for the annual Shareholders meeting of Berkshire Hathaway. It was an opportunity to see and hear Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger speak live and answer questions for more than 5 hours. It is a great experience and really well worth it.

On Friday evening, there were welcome drinks with food and a live band at Borsheims. It attracted a big crowd and it was a great place to socialise and meet fellow shareholders. Some of them have been going to the annual meeting for 30 years, but there were also a few that this was the first meeting that they attended.[…]

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Friday, 10th February 2012

Why stocks beat gold and bonds

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Articles, Stock Investing, Wealth Building

Fortune
By WARREN E. BUFFETT
Published: February 9, 2012

Investing is often described as the process of laying out money now in the expectation of receiving more money in the future. At Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA) we take a more demanding approach, defining investing as the transfer to others of purchasing power now with the reasoned expectation of receiving more purchasing power — after taxes have been paid on nominal gains — in the future. More succinctly, investing is forgoing consumption now in order to have the ability to consume more at a later date.

From our definition there flows an important corollary: The riskiness of an investment is not measured by beta (a Wall Street term encompassing volatility and often used in measuring risk) but rather by the probability — the reasoned probability — of that investment causing its owner a loss of purchasing power over his contemplated holding period. Assets can fluctuate greatly in price and not be risky as long as they are reasonably certain to deliver increased purchasing power over their holding period. And as we will see, a nonfluctuating asset can be laden with risk.[…]

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Sunday, 16th October 2011

Howard Marks Investing Ideas, part 4

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Stock Investing, Wealth Building

The “know” and “don’t know” schools

The “I know” school people believe they can discern what the future holds, and in their world investing is a simple matter:

  • First you decide what the economy is going to do in the period under consideration.
  • Then you figure out what the impact will be on interest rates.
  • From this you infer how the securities markets will perform.
  • You choose the industries that will do best in that environment.
  • You make judgments about how the industries’ companies will fare in terms of profits.
  • Based on all of this information, you pick stocks that are bound to appreciate.[…]

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Sunday, 16th October 2011

Howard Marks Investing Ideas, part 3

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Stock Investing, Wealth Building

Performance

A bit above average performance is not that bad if you can consistently do it for many years. You do not need to swing for the fences in order to achieve long term gain. If you are willing to take huge bets on assets to gain the spectacular results you should be ready to fail some times and then have huge losses. That will give you an average return over the years, unless of course you can be right about the future most of the times. Not an easy task to accomplish.[…]

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Sunday, 16th October 2011

Howard Marks Investing Ideas, part 2

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Stock Investing, Wealth Building

Telling the future

Making market forecasts on a consistent basis is not an easy thing. Many people try and none succeed on it. If you are always crying ‘wolf’ then at some point you will be right, but that does not tell us about your ability to forecast market movements. A useful market forecast is only useful if it is in contrary to popular belief. If everyone predicts it then this is already reflected in the price of assets. […]

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Sunday, 16th October 2011

Howard Marks Investing Ideas, part 1

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Stock Investing, Wealth Building

When the world’s self-made billionaires speak it is good to listen. Then when you find out who they follow on a regular basis, maybe you should look at them too. This is how I learned about Howard Marks. Howard is the chairman of Oaktree since 1995. His approach to money management is based on a simple motto: “if we avoid the losers, the winners will take care of themselves”. His memos to clients are a must read for investors. Here are some pieces of advice taken directly from his memos.[…]

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Thursday, 15th September 2011

“Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits” by Philip A. Fisher

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Books, Stock Investing, Wealth Building

Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits

Philip Fisher was in investor for many years and he was a very successful one. In his book “Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits” he outlines some of his ideas that have helped him to be a successful investor.

He regularly used to go out on the field and speak with employees of the companies, with suppliers, competitors and the management and was able to gather valuable information from them. Of course, he did a lot of preparation work before he went to the meetings to show to people that he was a serious investor.

Here are 15 points that he was looking for in companies that he wanted to invest in. Many of them are more difficult to quantify than a simple P/E ratio, but none the less very important.[…]

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Thursday, 23rd December 2010

A Lesson on Elementary, Worldly Wisdom As It Relates To Investment Management & Business

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Presentations, Stock Investing, Wealth Building

Charles Munger
USC Business School
1994

I’m going to play a minor trick on you today – because the subject of my talk is the art of stock picking as a subdivision of the art of worldly wisdom. That enables me to start talking about worldly wisdom – a much broader topic that interests me because I think all too little of it is delivered by modern educational systems, at least in an effective way.

And therefore, the talk is sort of along the lines that some behaviorist psychologists call Grandma’s rule after the wisdom of Grandma when she said that you have to eat the carrots before you get the dessert.[…]

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Tuesday, 9th November 2010

Warren Buffett’s Business Evaluation Filters

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Stock Investing, Wealth Building

At a press conference in 2001, when Warren Buffett was asked how he evaluated new business ideas, he said he used 4 criteria as filters.

  • Can I understand it (Is it predictable. Do I have a reasonable probability of being able to assess where the business will be in 10 years)?[…]

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Monday, 1st November 2010

Charlie Munger Investment Principles Checklist

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Stock Investing, Wealth Building

Poor Charlie's Almanack

I finished reading “Poor Charlie’s Almanack” that details the thinking principles of Charlie Munger about investments and life in general. The book is an amazing read, because it shows how Charlie thinks about problems using many different ways. This helps him to avoid the “Man with a hammer” syndrome and allows him to see other aspects of problems and try many different ways to solve them.

The book contains all his talks, lectures and public commentary.[…]

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Thursday, 21st October 2010

Dollar Cost Averaging

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Stock Investing, Wealth Building

A lot of people are trying to time the market, but very few are able to do it consistently. The old advice of buy low and sell high is not that easy to implement and many people end up doing the exact opposite. An easy way to invest in the stock market is dollar-cost averaging. Here is a helpful post from fool.com that explain how it works:

Let’s begin with a definition. Dollar-cost averaging is a fancy term for periodic investments of fixed sums of money. Simply put, dollar-cost averaging involves investing a set amount of cash ($100, $500, $1,000) at regular intervals (monthly, quarterly, yearly) into a stock, a group of stocks or a fund. The key to its success is consistency. Investing the same amount each time on a set schedule can really help grow your portfolio over time.[…]

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Thursday, 21st October 2010

Enterprise Value

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Stock Investing, Wealth Building

When you are evaluating a company you need many tools that will help you to look at the company in different ways. One such tool is enterprise value. Here is a very good article from fool.com that explains what it is:

When trying to determine the value for a given company, a metric that many investors use religiously is market capitalization, better known by the shortened, slightly sassier term “market cap.” It’s simple enough to figure out — all you do is multiply the company’s shares outstanding by its current share price.[…]

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Monday, 4th October 2010

The Art of Stock Valuation, part 1

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Stock Investing, Wealth Building

When you are looking to invest your money in the stock market you need to go through thousands of companies and decide which ones will prosper in the future and which ones will not. The way to decide which ones will prosper is more of an art than it is science. Unfortunately, there is no secret formula for this although many people have tried unsuccessfully to create one that will work over the years. Many of these theories have been created based on mathematical models and all of them failed in due course.

This series of posts will look at people who have been successful at picking prosperous businesses over the years and will try to reverse engineer their successful approach. We will look at both quantitative and qualitative measures that can be used to evaluate companies. The data available for each of these companies is so vast that we need to sort through it, ignoring the noise and concentrate on the key metrics that really matter.[…]

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Tuesday, 6th April 2010

Learn from Warren Buffett’s personal portfolio

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Articles, Stock Investing

I read an article the other day by Robert Miles on the website of Morningstar that talked about the personal portfolio of Warren Buffett. That is the stocks that Warren has in his name and not under Berkshire Hathaway. I include here the major points from this article:

Buffett’s private portfolio represents less than five percent of his net worth, but that five percent is substantial by anyone’s measure–with a recent value of $1.8 billion. Certainly worth paying attention to.

This also answers the question often asked, “How does Warren Buffett live on a salary of $100,000 per year, with one of the lowest CEO compensation packages among the Fortune 500 companies?”[…]

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Friday, 12th March 2010

Charlie Munger on How to Get Rich

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Habits, Stock Investing

1. Measure risk
All investment evaluations should begin by measuring risk, especially reputational.
In 2003-2007, investors loved banks because they were big and made lots of money. What few asked was how much risk they were taking on. Those who properly analyze how much risk the run-ups have added will end up happiest.

2. Be independent
Only in fairy tales are emperors told they’re naked.
Maybe the hardest part of investing is that the greatest odds of being right come when most think you’re wrong, and vice versa.[…]

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Thursday, 25th February 2010

How We Can Restore Confidence

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Articles, Stock Investing

The Washington Post
By Charles T. Munger
February 11, 2009

Our situation is dire. Moderate booms and busts are inevitable in free-market capitalism. But a boom-bust cycle as gross as the one that caused our present misery is dangerous, and recurrences should be prevented. The country is understandably depressed — mired in issues involving fiscal stimulus, which is needed, and improvements in bank strength. A key question: Should we opt for even more pain now to gain a better future? For instance, should we create new controls to stamp out much sin and folly and thus dampen future booms? The answer is yes.[…]

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Thursday, 25th February 2010

Basically, It’s Over

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Articles, Stock Investing

Slate
By Charles Munger
Sunday, Feb. 21, 2010

In the early 1700s, Europeans discovered in the Pacific Ocean a large, unpopulated island with a temperate climate, rich in all nature’s bounty except coal, oil, and natural gas. Reflecting its lack of civilization, they named this island “Basicland.”

The Europeans rapidly repopulated Basicland, creating a new nation. They installed a system of government like that of the early United States. There was much encouragement of trade, and no internal tariff or other impediment to such trade. Property rights were greatly respected and strongly enforced. The banking system was simple. It adapted to a national ethos that sought to provide a sound currency, efficient trade, and ample loans for credit-worthy businesses while strongly discouraging loans to the incompetent or for ordinary daily purchases.[…]

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Thursday, 25th February 2010

Mr. Buffett on the Stock Market

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Articles, Stock Investing

Fortune
By Warren Buffett
November 22, 1999

The most celebrated of investors says stocks can’t possibly meet the public’s expectations. As for the Internet? He notes how few people got rich from two other transforming industries, auto and aviation.

Warren Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, almost never talks publicly about the general level of stock prices–neither in his famed annual report nor at Berkshire’s thronged annual meetings nor in the rare speeches he gives. But in the past few months, on four occasions, Buffett did step up to that subject, laying out his opinions, in ways both analytical and creative, about the long-term future for stocks. FORTUNE’s Carol Loomis heard the last of those talks, given in September to a group of Buffett’s friends (of whom she is one), and also watched a videotape of the first speech, given in July at Allen & Co.’s Sun Valley, Idaho, bash for business leaders. From those extemporaneous talks (the first made with the Dow Jones industrial average at 11,194), Loomis distilled the following account of what Buffett said. Buffett reviewed it and weighed in with some clarifications.[…]

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Thursday, 25th February 2010

Who Really Cooks the Books?

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Articles, Stock Investing

The New York Times
By Warren E. Buffett
Published: July 24, 2002

OMAHA— There is a crisis of confidence today about corporate earnings reports and the credibility of chief executives. And it’s justified.

For many years, I’ve had little confidence in the earnings numbers reported by most corporations. I’m not talking about Enron and WorldCom — examples of outright crookedness. Rather, I am referring to the legal, but improper, accounting methods used by chief executives to inflate reported earnings.

The most flagrant deceptions have occurred in stock-option accounting and in assumptions about pension-fund returns. The aggregate misrepresentation in these two areas dwarfs the lies of Enron and WorldCom.[…]

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Thursday, 25th February 2010

Fuzzy Math And Stock Options

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Articles, Stock Investing

The Washington Post
By Warren Buffett
Tuesday, July 6, 2004

Until now the record for mathematical lunacy by a legislative body has been held by the Indiana House of Representatives, which in 1897 decreed by a vote of 67 to 0 that pi — the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter — would no longer be 3.14159 but instead be 3.2. Indiana schoolchildren momentarily rejoiced over this simplification of their lives. But the Indiana Senate, composed of cooler heads, referred the bill to the Committee for Temperance, and it eventually died.

What brings this episode to mind is that the U.S. House of Representatives is about to consider a bill that, if passed, could cause the mathematical lunacy record to move east from Indiana. First, the bill decrees that a coveted form of corporate pay — stock options — be counted as an expense when these go to the chief executive and the other four highest-paid officers in a company, but be disregarded as an expense when they are issued to other employees in the company. Second, the bill says that when a company is calculating the expense of the options issued to the mighty five, it shall assume that stock prices never fluctuate.[…]

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Thursday, 25th February 2010

10 Ways To Get Rich

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Articles, Habits, Personal Finance, Stock Investing

Parade
By Warren Buffett
published: 09/07/2008

With an estimated fortune of $62 billion, Warren Buffett is the richest man in the entire world. In 1962, when he began buying stock in Berkshire Hathaway, a share cost $7.50. Today, Buffett, 78, is Berkshire’s chairman and CEO, and one share of the company’s class A stock is worth close to $119,000. He credits his astonishing success to several key strategies, which he has shared with writer Alice Schroeder. She spent hundreds of hours interviewing the Sage of Omaha for the new authorized biography The Snowball. Here are some of Buffett’s money-making secrets—and how they could work for you.

1. Reinvest your profits
When you first make money, you may be tempted to spend it. Don’t. Instead, reinvest the profits. Buffett learned this early on. In high school, he and a pal bought a pinball machine to put in a barbershop. With the money they earned, they bought more machines until they had eight in different shops. When the friends sold the venture, Buffett used the proceeds to buy stocks and to start another small business. By age 26, he’d amassed $174,000—or $1.4 million in today’s money. Even a small sum can turn into great wealth.[…]

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Thursday, 25th February 2010

Buy American. I Am.

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Articles, Stock Investing

New York Times
By WARREN E. BUFFETT
Published: October 16, 2008

The financial world is a mess, both in the United States and abroad. Its problems, moreover, have been leaking into the general economy, and the leaks are now turning into a gusher. In the near term, unemployment will rise, business activity will falter and headlines will continue to be scary.

So … I’ve been buying American stocks. This is my personal account I’m talking about, in which I previously owned nothing but United States government bonds. (This description leaves aside my Berkshire Hathaway holdings, which are all committed to philanthropy.) If prices keep looking attractive, my non-Berkshire net worth will soon be 100 percent in United States equities.[…]

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Wednesday, 24th February 2010

The Greenback Effect

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Articles, Stock Investing

New York Times
By WARREN E. BUFFETT
Published: August 18, 2009

In nature, every action has consequences, a phenomenon called the butterfly effect. These consequences, moreover, are not necessarily proportional. For example, doubling the carbon dioxide we belch into the atmosphere may far more than double the subsequent problems for society. Realizing this, the world properly worries about greenhouse emissions.

The butterfly effect reaches into the financial world as well. Here, the United States is spewing a potentially damaging substance into our economy — greenback emissions.[…]

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Wednesday, 13th January 2010

How to measure investment performance

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Stock Investing

As investors, it is very important to keep track of our yearly returns. Returns should be compared with a benchmark and our job is to beat the benchmark. If you can not beat the benchmark then it is better to buy it. This will save us money and time in the long run. There are certain things to consider when you measure performance:

1) Define your investment fund

First of all we must know what we measure. For example, assume we have a trading account of £10,000 and we decide to buy 1000 shares of Company X for £5.00 per share. Once we buy the shares, we will have in our account £5,000 in cash and 1000 shares of company X worth 5,000. Now assume that by the end of the year the shares increased in value and they are worth £6.00 per share. We can calculate our return in 2 ways:[…]

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Tuesday, 8th December 2009

Warren Buffett Investment Lessons, part 7

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Stock Investing

How he runs Berkshire Hathaway

In 1992, Warren Buffett say that Berkshire’s after-tax overhead costs are under of 1% of reported operating earnings and less than 1/2 of 1% of look-through earnings. In 1996, the after-tax headquarters expense amounts to less than two basis points (1/50th of 1%) measured against net worth.

Warren Buffett does not believe in flexible operating budgets, as in “Non-direct expenses can be X if revenues are Y, but must be reduced if revenues are Y – 5%”. In addition, it makes no sense to add unneeded people or activities because profits are booming, or cutting essential people or activities because profitability is shrinking.[…]

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Tuesday, 8th December 2009

Warren Buffett Investment Lessons, part 6

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Stock Investing

Debt and Leverage

Warren Buffett prefers to get finance (debt) in anticipation of need rather than in reaction to it. Warren Buffet has an aversion to debt, particularly the short-term kind. He is willing to incur modest amounts of debt when it is both properly structured and of significant benefit to shareholders.

Warren Buffett does not like leverage. Even if the odds of disaster are 99:1, he does not like them. A small chance of distress or disgrace cannot, in our view, be offset by a large chance of extra returns. If your actions are sensible, you are certain to get good results.[…]

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Tuesday, 8th December 2009

Warren Buffett Investment Lessons, part 5

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Stock Investing

Economic franchises

An economic franchise is a product or service that:

  • Is needed or desired
  • Is thought by its customers to have no close substitute
  • Is not subject to price regulation

The company can regularly price its product or service aggressively and earn high rates of return on capital. Franchises can tolerate mis-management, because the managers might diminish the franchise’s profitability but they cannot inflict mortal damage.

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Tuesday, 8th December 2009

Three suggestions of investors

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Stock Investing

After many years of investing, Warren Buffett has some suggestions for investors.


First, beware of companies displaying weak accounting. If a company still does not expense options, or if its pension assumptions are fanciful, watch out. When managements take the low road in aspects that are visible, it is likely they are following a similar path behind the scenes. There is seldom just one cockroach in the kitchen.[…]

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Tuesday, 8th December 2009

The formula for valuing assets

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Property Investing, Stock Investing

In one of his letters to the shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett told them what is the formula to value any assett.

The formula for valuing all assets that are purchased for financial gain has been unchanged since it was first laid out by a very smart man in about 600 B.C. (though he wasn’t smart enough to know it was 600 B.C.).

The oracle was Aesop and his enduring, though somewhat incomplete, investment insight was “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” To flesh out this principle, you must answer only three questions. How certain are you that there are indeed birds in the bush? When will they emerge and how many will there be? What is the risk-free interest rate (which we consider to be the yield on long-term U.S. bonds)? If you can answer these three questions, you will know the maximum value of the bush ¾ and the maximum number of the birds you now possess that should be offered for it. And, of course, don’t literally think birds. Think dollars.[…]

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Tuesday, 8th December 2009

Warren Buffett Investment Lessons, part 4

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Stock Investing

Management

Making the most of an existing strong business franchise is what usually produces exceptional economics. Managers need to protect their franchise, control costs, search for new products and markets that build on their existing strengths and do not get diverted. They need to work exceptionally hard at the details of the business. He advocates leaving management alone to do their job.

When a management with a reputation for brilliance tackles a business with a reputation for bad economics, it is the reputation of the business that remains intact.

Only do business with people that you like, trust and admire.[…]

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Tuesday, 8th December 2009

Warren Buffett Investment Lessons, part 3

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Stock Investing

Be a successful investor

You do not have to make it back the way that you lost it.

I would rather be certain of a good result than hopeful of a great one.

To be successful, concentrate on identifying one foot hurdles that you could step over rather than acquire any ability to clear seven footers. An investor needs to do very few things right as long as he/she avoids big mistakes.

In each case you want to acquire, at a sensible price, a business with excellent economics and able and honest management. Thereafter, you need only to monitor whether these qualities are being preserved.

When carried out capably, an investment strategy of that type will often result in its practitioner owning a few securities that will come to represent a very large portion of his portfolio. This investor would get a similar result if he followed a policy of purchasing an interest in, say, 20% of the future earnings of a number of outstanding college basketball stars. A handful of these would go on to achieve NBA stardom, and the investor’s take from them would soon dominate his royalty stream. To suggest that this investor should sell off portions of his most successful investments simply because they have come to dominate his portfolio is akin to suggesting that the Bulls trade Michael Jordan because he has become so important to the team.[…]

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Tuesday, 8th December 2009

Warren Buffett Investment Lessons, part 2

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Stock Investing

Buying a business

Here are the thought of Warren Buffett on what to look for when you are considering buying a business. It must have a good management team, good future economics for the business and the price you pay must be right. The business itself should have the ability to increase prices easily (even when product demand is flat and capacity is not fully utilized) without fear of significant loss of either market share or unit volume. You should be able to accommodate large dollar volume increases in business with only minor addition of investment of capital. The best business to own is one that over an extended period can employee large amounts of incremental capital at very high rates of return.

The following are dismal economic characteristics that make for a poor long-term outlook for a business:[…]

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Thursday, 3rd December 2009

How to Minimize Investment Returns

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Stock Investing

In his Berkshire Hathaway annual report of 2006, Warren Buffet wrote an article that explained how investors were achieving lower returns by employing professional help. Below if the full test.


Over the century American businesses did extraordinarily well and investors rode the wave of their prosperity. Businesses continue to do well. But now shareholders, through a series of self-inflicted wounds, are in a major way cutting the returns they will realize from their investments.

The explanation of how this is happening begins with a fundamental truth: With unimportant exceptions, such as bankruptcies in which some of a company’s losses are borne by creditors, the most that owners in aggregate can earn between now and Judgment Day is what their businesses in aggregate earn. True, by buying and selling that is clever or lucky, investor A may take more than his share of the pie at the expense of investor B. And, yes, all investors feel richer when stocks soar. But an owner can exit only by having someone take his place. If one investor sells high, another must buy high. For owners as a whole, there is simply no magic – no shower of money from outer space – that will enable them to extract wealth from their companies beyond that created by the companies themselves.[…]

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Tuesday, 27th October 2009

Warren Buffett Investment Lessons, part 1

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Stock Investing

This is an edited version of a letter Warren Buffett sent some years ago to a man who had indicated that he might want to sell his family business.


Some Thoughts on Selling Your Business

Dear _____________:

Here are a few thoughts pursuant to our conversation of the other day.

Most business owners spend the better part of their lifetimes building their businesses. By experience built upon endless repetition, they sharpen their skills in merchandising, purchasing, personnel selection, etc. It’s a learning process, and mistakes made in one year often contribute to competence and success in succeeding years.

In contrast, owner-managers sell their business only once — frequently in an emotionally-charged atmosphere with a multitude of pressures coming from different directions. Often, much of the pressure comes from brokers whose compensation is contingent upon consummation of a sale, regardless of its consequences for both buyer and seller. The fact that the decision is so important, both financially and personally, to the owner can make the process more, rather than less, prone to error. And, mistakes made in the once-in-a-lifetime sale of a business are not reversible.[…]

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Wednesday, 22nd July 2009

“The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life” by Alice Schroeder

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Books, Habits, Personal Finance, Stock Investing

Snowball, Warren Buffett

This is a great book for anyone who is interested to invest in the stock market and run a business. The book describes the life of Warren Buffett from the day he was born up to 2008. The lessons are drawn from both his personal and his professional life.

Warren got involved in a very young age in the process of making money and managing other people’s money. When he was a kid he took his sister’s money to invest in a stock. This stock went down and everyday his sister would ask him why the stock is down. Warren did not like that experience at all and from that day on he did not want to manage other’s people money unless he knew he could do a great job. This gave birth to his first rule of investment “Never lose the money.”

You can find a lot of details on his management style in the book and how he pushes his people to get the best out of them.[…]

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Monday, 22nd June 2009

“One Up On Wall Street” by Peter Lynch

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Books, Stock Investing

One Up On Wall Street

This book is one of the classics on stock investments. Peter Lynch was the head of the Magellan Fund in Fidelity Investments from 1977 to 1990 and the fund average was 29.2% return during that period. This is a very impressive return when you consider that the market average is about 11% and that 80% of the fund managers fails to beat the average.

In this book, Peter Lynch shares some of his secrets on how he managed to get this returns and explains how ordinary investors can do the same and achieve higher returns that the professionals. He introduces ideas like the “ten bagger” that refer to an investment which is worth ten times its original purchase price.[…]

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Wednesday, 3rd June 2009

Never sell a stock

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Personal Finance, Stock Investing

One of the biggest challenges that people face when they buy stocks is to decide when to sell them. This decision is as important as deciding which stock to buy. Even Warren Buffet, the legendary buy and hold investor, is selling stocks if he believes that he can find a better place for his capital.

First of all, you should never sell simply because a stock—and the market in general – goes down several percentage points. Selling on this basis alone is an overreaction that usually costs you money in the long run. Don’t waste your time on trying to time the market. Instead, you want to know your stocks well enough to be able to recognize which events spell danger and which scream opportunity.

Here, then, are some pointers to help you decide whether to stay the course or sell—for the right reasons:[…]

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Thursday, 30th April 2009

How to evaluate the management of a company

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Stock Investing

One of the most important things to look at before you invest in a company is the quality of the management team. After all, you are buying a part of a company and you want the people who are running it to be of the best quality. Consider four major areas when seeking out top-quality […]

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Tuesday, 24th February 2009

Invest like Warren Buffett

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Stock Investing

Warren Buffet has been characterised as the greatest investor of all times. He buys great companies in fair values and holds them forever. He is very successful and he has managed to become the wealthiest person on Earth.

There are many people who are wondering how he does this. They are trying to do the same thing as Warren and achieve similar results. One way that this can be done is by buying the same companies he buys at similar prices or better. This is not always easily done, because a lot of times he reveals his positions months after he has done the purchases.[…]

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Tuesday, 10th February 2009

Has Warren Buffett lost his touch?

Written by George Traganidas Topics: Articles, Personal Finance, Stock Investing

It is always useful to see both sides in an argument. This increases your understanding of the situation and hopefully will help you to make better decisions. I have been following Warren Buffett very closely in the last 3 years and I have been reading articles written about him and his investment and management style. Everyone is praising him for being a very good investor and being able to attract great companies.

There is one person though who is betting against him. Who tells that his time is over and he has lost his charm. This person is Doug Kass and the last few months he wrote articles on why Warren is wrong and why his style does not work any more. His articles and reasoning are very interesting. His main point is that his style is not applicable to this new age and following it will cause you to lose money.[…]

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