Do you invest based on trends or sectors?


We don't play big trends like demographic trends. They just don't mean that much. There's too much money to be made year to year than worry about trends that take ten years to play out. I can't think of one investment we've ever made based on a macro or demographic trend.


[CM: Not only that, but we've missed the biggest commodity boom in history - and we'll continue to miss things like this!]


• So**ce: BRK Annual Meeting 2006 Tilson Notes

• **L:

• Time: 2006

What do you think about the utility industry?


I have thought about that a lot because you can put big money in it. I have even thought of buying the entire businesses. But I don't quite understand the game in terms of how it is going to develop with deregulation. I can see how it destroys a lot of value through the high cost producer once they are not protected by a monopoly territory.


I don't for s**e see who benefits and how much. Obviously the guy with very low cost power or some guy has hydro-power at two cents a KwH has a huge advantage. But how much of that he gets to keep or how extensively he can send that outside his nat**al territory, I haven't been able to fig**e that out so I really don't know what the Industry will look like in ten years. But it is something I think about and if I ever develop any insights that call for action, I will act on them. Because I think I can understand the attractiveness of the product. All the aspects of certainty of users need and the fact it is a bargain and all of that. I understand. I don't understand who is going to make the money in ten years. And that keeps me away.


• So**ce: Lect**e at the University of Florida Business School

• **L:

• Time: October 15th 1998

What do you think of utilities?


The production of electricity is a huge business and it's not inconceivable that we'd invest heavily here.


The Public Utilities Holding Company Act [PUCA], written in 1935, has a lot of rules about what the parent company of a utility can do. It was set up to check abuses that existed then, so it was appropriate at the time. But I don't think there's anything pro-social about limiting Berkshire Hathaway's ability to acquire utilities today. We might have done one or two acquisitions in past years but for PUCA.


[Regarding the Californian Power Crisis] With deregulation, the incentives [for power producers] were changed such that instead of wanting abundant supplies, they wanted tight supplies, which would result in higher prices.


You can't take utilities with a cost of X, invite new producers in with a cost of 3X, and expect prices to go down.


The old system strikes me as better for society.


[CM: "The old system had the NIMBY [not in my back yard] problem. If you let unreasonable, self-centered people make decisions, you'll get into trouble. We may be making the same mistake today with oil refineries."]


• So**ce: BRK Annual Meeting 2001 Tilson Notes

• **L:

• Time: April 2001

In the domestic soft drink model, is it winner take all, or is there room for three competitors?


S**e, there's room for more than one. I think Coke's market share will grow pretty much year after year. We're talking tenths of a percent, but tenths of a percent are important.


The U.S. market is 10 billion cases, so one percent is 100 million cases. It's interesting how regional tastes can be: Dr. Pepper may have a far bigger market share in Texas than in Minnesota ... You can make money with a soft drink company that doesn't dominate the business. You can do a lot better with one that does dominate, but it's not winner take all. It's not like two newspapers in a town of 100,000 or 200,000. There are certain businesses that are winner takes all.

**市场是100亿的大蛋糕,1%就是1亿。很有趣的一点是区域口味差异很大,在德克萨斯州,Dr. Pepper的市场份额比在明尼苏达州要多得多…即便一家公司不是行业老大,也是能够从它身上投资赚钱的。当然从一个有垄断优势的企业身上确实能赚得很多,但并不是只能一家独大。这不像那种在10万-20万的小镇上的报社,这种情况才会形成一家独大的垄断局面。

• So**ce: BRK Annual Meeting 1997

• **L:

• Time: May 1997

What do you think of the airline industry?


"The big problem is not aggregate costs, but costs versus competitors." Buffett recalled US Air's difficulties competing against Southwest and concluded, "If yo** costs are out of line, you're going to get killed eventually."

[Munger: "Airline pilot unions are really tough. It's interesting to see people paid as well as airline pilots to have such a tough union. No airline can afford a shutdown very long."]

If you're in a business that cannot take a long strike, then you're playing a game of chicken with labor. Ironically, if you're weak, you're in a stronger negotiating position.

"累积成本不是主要问题,跟竞争对手对比成本才是", 巴菲特回忆起**空军在与西南航空公司的竞争中遇到的困难,并总结说:"如果成本远超预算,企业最终就会垮掉。



• So**ce: BRK Annual Meeting 2001 Tilson Notes

• **L:

• Time: April 2001

What do you think of the banking business model?


• Banking is a good business - many banks earn high ret**ns on tangible equity

• 银行业是个很好的行业 - 很多银行都有很高的有形资产回报率。

• "Charlie and I have been s**prised at how much profitability banks have, given that it seems like a commodity business."

• 查理和我都对银行的高收益感到惊讶,从这点来看银行业有点像零售行业。

• Underestimated how sticky customers are and how unaware they are of fees banks charge them

• 我们低估了银行客户的粘性,也低估他们对银行收费无意识的程度。

• If you have a well run bank, you don't need to be the #1 bank in an area

• 如果你的有一家经营良好的银行,那么这家银行是不是龙头老大无所谓。

• Bank ROA is not highly correlated to size

• 银行的ROA(资产回报率)跟体量没有多大关系

• You may have to pay 3x tangible equity to buy a bank

• 要买下一家银行你可能得支付三倍有形资产的价格

• Only problem with banks is that sometimes they get crazy and do dumb things...'91 was a good example

• 银行存在的唯一问题是它们有时候会发展得特别疯狂,做出一下傻事。比如91事件。

• If a bank doesn't do dumb things on the asset side, it will make good money

• 如果银行不在资产上做出傻事,它就稳打稳赚钱。

• So**ce: Buffett Vanderbilt Notes

• **L:

• Time: Jan 2005

We've been somewhat s**prised at how well banks have done. Some have generated 20% or greater ret**ns on tangible equity over many years, though this is in part due to increasing leverage.


• So**ce: BRK Annual Meeting 2002 Tilson Notes

• **L:

• Time: 2002

Banking, if you can just stay away from following the fads and making bad loans, has been a remarkably good business. Since WW II, ROE for banks that have stayed out of trouble has been good. Some large well-run banks earn 20% ROE. I've been s**prised that margins in banking haven't been competed away.

如果银行不跟随潮流,也不放坏账,那它就是一个非常好的行业。 自第二次世界大战以来,在困境之外的银行其ROE(净资产收益率)一直很好。 一些运营良好的大型银行ROE高达20%。 令我惊讶的是,银行业的利润并没有被挤掉。

It's pretty extraordinary that institutions competing against each other without real competitive advantages can all make high ret**ns. Part of it is higher loan to value ratios than in past years. Some banks get into trouble making bad loans, but you don't have to.


• So**ce: BRK Annual Meeting 2003 Tilson Notes

• **L:

• Time: 2003

Financial companies are more difficult to analyze than other companies. They can report whatever earnings they want - it's an easy game to play. For banks, earnings depend on loans and the reserves set aside. It's easy to change and manipulate the reserves.


With a company like WD-40 or a brick company, the financials are easy to analyze. But with financial [companies] it's tough, especially when you throw in derivatives.


There were very high grade, financially sophisticated people who were on the boards of the GSEs [Government-Sponsored Enterprises, such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac] and they were not negligent, but it's very tough [to detect the shenanigans that went on].


Charlie and I were on the board of Salomon and Charlie was on the audit committee, and [it's just impossible to evaluate thousands of transactions]. You'll just have to accept that with ins**ance companies, banks and other financial companies - it's just a more dangerous field to analyze.


[CM: Where you have complexity, by nat**e you can have fraud and mistakes. This will always be true of financial companies, including ones run by governments. If you want acc**ate numbers from financial companies, you're in the wrong world.]


• So**ce: BRK Annual Meeting 2005 Tilson Notes

• **L:

• Time: 2005

[Q - Small regional banks - what would you look at before you buy?]


WB: It is hard to make a categorical decision about regional banks. So much depends on the character of the institution. It will be a reflection of the CEO you have. A bank can mean anything. It can be an institution that is doing all sorts of crazy things. The Bank of Commonwealth was an example. We owned a bank in Rockford, Illinois, run by Dean Aback-he would always run a super, sound bank.

巴菲特:很难给地方性银行做出类别划分,这主要取决于银行的角色是什么,有可能跟CEO个人的特质有关。银行也有各种各样的。它可能是采取了各种疯狂举动的银行,比如联邦银行。也可能是一家经营十分平稳的银行,比如我们曾经持有过的在伊利诺伊州的Rockford银行,由Dean Aback经营。

You should know the cult**e of the management and the institution before making the decision to buy a bank. We own Wells Fargo and M&T, but it doesn't mean they are immune. But likely they are immune from institutional stupidity. There was a wise man that said there are more banks than bankers. If you think about that a while, you will get my point.


• So**ce: BRK Annual Meeting 2008 Boodell Notes

• **L:

• Time: 2008

You've recently invested in Goldman Sachs and GE. Is the financial sector a good buy right now?


No sector is a good buy unless you understand the business. However, I do believe that there is good value and great opportunity now in the financial sector because it is extremely unpopular. Sector's themselves don't make good buys, companies that are undervalued make good buys. You know how to value a business, you project the fut**e cash flows discounted to present and buy with a margin of safety. The earnings prospects need to be greater than the c**rent value. Anything that is unpopular is aways great to look at. If I was getting out of school right now, I would take a look.


• So**ce: Q&A with 6 Business Schools

• **L:

• Time: Feb 2009

Yo** opinion of the gambling industry?


I don't know about which stocks to recommend, but, as long as we're talking about the legal ones, gambling companies will have a perfectly good fut**e. The desire of people to gamble is very high, including in stocks. Day trading comes very close to gambling. People like to gamble. If there's a football game, especially if it's boring, you'll enjoy it more if you bet a few bucks. The human propensity to gamble is huge.


When it was only legal in Nevada, you had to travel or break laws to gamble, but now states are legalizing it. The easier it is, the more people who will gamble.


People will always want to gamble. I'm not a prude about it, but to quite an extent, gambling is a tax on ignorance. You just put it in and guys like me don't pay the taxes - it relieves taxes on those who don't gamble. I find it socially revolting when a government preys on its citizens rather than serving them.


Munger: I would argue that casinos use clever psychological tricks [to get people to gamble], some of which are harmless, but a lot of grievous inj**y has been done. You won't find a lot of gambling companies in Berkshire's portfolio. [Applause]


• So**ce: BRK Annual Meeting 2007 Tilson Notes

• **L:

• Time: 2007



谷闷恒 | 格隆汇·专栏作者






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