Warren Buffett Beware of Overconfidence

When we own something, we value it more preciously. If we purchase any stocks than it becomes a value for us. We value more which we are holding, which is known as an endowment bias. Due to the higher value for us, we cannot able sold out or go away from our holding.

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Mr. Buffett has always mentioned that not to become too much confidence.

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We can see that Mr. Buffett does not get overconfidence on his own holding, but especially he mentioned that he can have poor performance for his investment. And when he felt that he could not able to manage fund then he has discontinued his partnership approach.

Mr. Buffett has made much successful investment such as see’s candy, Coca-Cola, GEICO, Nebraska Furniture Mart, etc. But he has also made a mistake to make an investment to the Salomon Brothers, US Air, and Dexter Shoes, etc.

When Berkshire had purchased Dexter shoes than they have issued shares of Berkshire for acquiring a Dexter. Dexter got bought by Berkshire for the worth of $433 million which turnouts to be a ZERO a few years later. Mr. Buffett has mentioned into his letter to shareholders that one of the biggest mistakes he had made was to acquire Dexter shoes and that is by issuing a share of Berkshire. Berkshire share was quoted at $16765 at the time of Dexter acquisition which is currently quoted at $304057, which has grown by 13% CAGR for the same period and at the same time Dexter becomes zero. Mr. Buffett had bought H.H.Brown and Lowell Shoe in the year 1991 and 1992 respectively before the acquisition of Dexter.

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In the year 2000, Mr. Buffett has recognized his mistake and write of remaining accounting goodwill. The overconfidence of Mr. Buffett has hampered a huge value to the Berkshire which teaches us that we should not be overconfident for any of the trade. When we are overconfident, we cannot able to see the negative part of our trade. We have to be neutral with our holding. I always mentioned that there is not a favorite stock of mine when people asked me for my favorite holding. I would like to hold the stock until it remains within my criteria of holding. As and when it goes out of it, I put a sell order into it. If we consider any of our investment as a favorite, then we get attached towards it and we cannot able to sell it when it is going out of our criteria.

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Read for more detail: Big Mistakes: The Best Investors and Their Worst Investments by Michael Batnick

BIBLIOPHILE: WARREN BUFFETT’S LETTER 1957 – 2017

Mr.Buffett has taught us – 

Never count on making a good sale. Have a purchase price be so attractive that even a mediocre sale gives good results. The better sales will be the frosting on the cake.

Our business is making excellent purchases – not making extraordinary sales.

Mr. Buffett believes that big money can be made by making investment decisions based on qualitative factors whereas sure money can be made by making investment decisions based on quantitative factors. And hence, on the basis of this; he considers himself as a quantitatively focused investor.

The primary test of managerial economic performance is the achievement of a high earnings rate on equity capital employed (without undue leverage, accounting gimmickry, etc.) and not the achievement of consistent gains in earnings per share.

Business must have two characteristics: (1) an ability to increase prices rather 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, and (2) an ability to accommodate large dollar volume increases in business (often produced more by inflation than by real growth) with only minor additional investment of capital.

Many a time, management only focuses on the increasing future Earning Per Share (EPS) by sacrificing the strength of the balance sheet. But they forget that if the balance sheet does not remain strong for a longer period of time then business is going to have a tough time into the future.

Accounting numbers, of course, are the language of business and as such are of enormous help to anyone evaluating the worth of a business and tracking its progress. Charlie and I would be lost without these numbers: they invariably are the starting point for us in evaluating our own businesses and those of others. Managers and owners need to remember, however, that accounting is but an aid to business thinking, never a substitute for it.

“What we learn from history is that we do not learn from history.”

Any company’s level of profitability is determined by three items: (1) what its assets earn; (2) what its liabilities cost; and (3) its utilization of “leverage” – that is, the degree to which its assets are funded by liabilities rather than by equity. Great companies = Float + Investment + Cash with higher return ratio

If the choice is between a questionable business at a comfortable price or a comfortable business at a questionable price, we much prefer the latter. What really gets our attention, however, is a comfortable business at a comfortable price.

Buy commodity, sell brand has long been a formula for business success.

Capital-intensive business, look for PBT / interest cost rather EBITDA / interest cost.

When we are fearful with our investment decisions then we focus on the each and every aspects which can result in the erosion of the capital.

Mr.Buffett has taught us many concepts and wisdom which is essential to us while making an investment decision. I am hereby compiling all my learning from the letters of Mr.Warren Buffett. Also an evolution of Mr.Buffett from bargain to quality businesses.

For all in one learning from Mr.Warren Buffett’s Letters, Click here –>  BIBLIOPHILE WARREN BUFFETT’S LETTER 1957-2017

WARREN BUFFETT’S LETTER – 2013 – 2014

Warren Buffett’s Letter 2013

Mr.Buffett has mentioned that they have made a repurchase of Berkshire shares during the year 2012 which enhance intrinsic value per share and that provides a benefit to the shareholders who are continuing with the company.

Examples of Buyback – SIMPLE IS BETTER – ISSUE -13 – BUYBACK

Mr.Buffett on the Heinz investment –

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I learn investment to fixed income instrument from my Guru. ZEE Entertainment has issued preference shares to the equity shareholder of the company with the condition to pay 6% interest payment and redemption of principle starts from FY18.ZEENCPS 01

Preference share was available at Re.0.80 and face value of that is Re.1.00. If we consider total cash inflow to us in form of interest payment + principle repayment then we can able to earn ~10.75% IRR for the FY14-22. Here, the present value of all future cash inflow @ 10.75% is Re.0.80 which is also higher than our purchase price which indicates safety also.

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NTPC has issued debenture to the equity shareholder of the company as a bonus with the condition to pay 8.49% interest payment and redemption of principle starts from FY23.

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Debenture was given as a bonus and ex-date of debenture was 20th March 2018. If NTPC was purchased on 18th March 2015 then price of NTPC was ~Rs.153.74 (with brokerage + other charges) and if we sell NTPC on Ex-date then price of NTPC was ~Rs.144.70 (with brokerage + other charges) so that cost for getting bonus was Rs.9.05 and the face value of that is Rs.12.50. If we consider total cash inflow to us in form of interest payment + principle repayment then we can able to earn ~14.02% IRR for the FY15-25. Here, the present value of all future cash inflow @ 10.75% is Rs.10.90 which is also higher than our purchase price which indicates safety also.

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In both the cases, the interest rate on risk-free investment was ~8-9% and we are getting higher return compared to it.

Mr. Buffett on investing –

During, the year 1973 to 1981, farm prices had a bubble situation. When the bubble burst, then leverage farmer and lender both had a troublesome time. And after that Mr. Buffett had made an investment into the farm.

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Mr. Buffett also made an investment into the other commercial property.

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Mr. Buffett has explained investing lessons –

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In our investment to stocks, we are get affected with the stock price fluctuation and listen to the pundits for their comments. Due to such habits, we cannot sit quietly with our investment and we end up with little or no return. Mr. Charlie and Mr. Buffett always made an investment as they are buying an entire business. They check whether they can estimate future five years of earnings or not. If they can estimate earnings then check whether available at a reasonable price or not. If either of the condition does not match then they move on to the other prospects.

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For non-professional investors, they can make an investment into the index fund and accumulate it over a period of time.

Warren Buffett’s Letter 2014

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Mr. Buffett mentioned Investors behavior which affects the investment return –

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Unexpected behavior from Stanton in the year 1964 –

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Why Mr. Buffett has bought Berkshire Hathway at the year 1962 –

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Example of Indian companies

One of the air-cooler manufacturing company of India was available below the book in the year 2009

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Chart Symphony

One of the two-wheelers and commercial vehicle manufacturing company was available below book value in the year 2008 and below cash in the year 2008 and 2009

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Chart Eicher

Charlie Straightens Me Out

The initial period of years, Mr. Buffett engage in the buying bargains (cigar-butt) strategy which he learns from Mr. Graham. The major weakness of the concept mentioned by Mr. Buffett is “Cigar-butt investing was scalable only to a point. With large sums, it would never work well.”

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Here, I have also made a blunder but luck by chance got saved.

Mr.Munger has an impact on Mr. Buffett which has helped to Mr. Buffett to evolve cigar butt strategy to wonderful businesses at favorable prices. Many times, Mr. Buffett and Mr.Munger do not get agree but they never ever have made any arguments. When such scenario arises then Mr. Charlie end up a conversation with saying “Warren, think it over and you’ll agree with me because you’re smart and I’m right.” Mr. Buffett has accepted that transformation was not easy but he has done it.

Warren Buffett’s Letters

SIMPLE IS BETTER – ISSUE -13 – BUYBACK

I have mentioned during the series of Warren Buffett’s letter that buyback done by the company considers good. Also when the market value of the company is available at discount from intrinsic value and company does not have a better opportunity to make an investment then company has to repurchase own shares. We have heard that the company having good management then they come up with a buyback and others will come up with a dilution of capital. The buyback is one of the criteria for judging a capital allocation decision of management that whether good or not.

What is Buyback?

For Detail Issue, Click here —> SIMPLE IS BETTER – ISSUE -13 – BUYBACK

WARREN BUFFETT’S LETTER – 1999 – 2000

Warren Buffett’s Letter 1999

Accepting mistakes Mr. Buffett has accepted mistake of poor equity performance during the year 1999. Though they have a wonderful track record, they do not get trapped with the overconfidence, does not show any excuses, stay down to earth and stick with the reality.

Example of Management Quality

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Example of Indian Companies

One of the footwear company in India

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One of the diagnostic chain company of India

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Mr. Buffett has given his view on Tech Companies –

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We should have to define and written own investment philosophy and need to follow it strictly. If some of the investment opportunity does not fall under our investment philosophy then we should avoid it, though everyone else wants to capture a particular investment opportunity.

Business with a valuation –

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Warren Buffett’s Letter 2000

Mr. Buffet has mentioned that line between speculation and investment is not clear and blur so we have to identify the investment process according to our course of action. The definition given by Mr. Benjamin Graham can be useful to us for identifying investment process – “An investment operation is one which, upon thorough analysis, promises safety of principal and an adequate return. Operation not meeting these requirements are speculative.”

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Example of the Indian companies which have a higher related party transaction

One of the Cable manufacturing company

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One of the spirit company of India

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We have seen into the current scenario that when people have started believing that investing/speculating to the equities provides them a higher return (no one remembers what Ben Graham said for return – should expect reasonable return) then only bubble started to build up.

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Warren Buffett’s Letters 1957 – 2012

WARREN BUFFETT’S LETTER – 1997 – 1998

Warren Buffett’s Letter 1997

We need to wait for the opportunity which falls under our Circle of Competence and we are comfortable with it, rather catch each opportunity.

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We do not have to try to capture each and every single opportunity available rather we should focus on the opportunity which falls under our Circle of Competence and our philosophy. Till the time, we need to wait for the appropriate opportunity. Those who try to capture every opportunity, they do not get a better investment result.

As we have discussed investment into the cyclical industries in one of the articles of the same series (WARREN BUFFETT’S LETTER – 1987), we further get insights from Mr. Buffett –

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When higher the supply of a particular commodity then prices of that particular commodity starts falling and vice-versa with the lower supply of the commodity. We should build a position into commodity companies during an excess supply of a particular commodity and we get insights for dry out excess supply.

Repurchase of Shares

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We have seen in the current market fall that many people lose their investment, many have made an investment by bringing borrowing. But those who are careful and defensive investors, those get an opportunity to acquire position into the businesses at an attractive valuation. Many of the investors, I know who was holding a good liquidity position in their portfolio. They got saved from market fall. I also have experienced similar because of having good liquidity positions into my portfolio.

Acquisitions

Berkshire has made an acquisition into Star Furniture and International Dairy Queen (Company has a 5792 dairy stores in 23 countries)

Warren Buffett’s Letter 1998

When the company spends any money than Mr. Buffett always analyze that whether company able to create more than one dollar for anyone dollar spend or not. If the company can able to create more than one dollar for every dollar spend then they are happy to spend money. If the company is incurring a capital expenditure and consistently company is not able to earn higher returns than the company is facing capital allocation problem. We do not have to check it for 1, 2 or 3 years but we need to check it for a longer horizon.

Indian Company examples

One of the textile machinery manufacturing company

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One of the tyres manufacturing company

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One of the largest IT Company

TCS

Berkshire help to the CEOs of companies in which they have made an investment –

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They also focus on the long-term benefits from the business rather focus on the shorter term perspective. Additionally, Mr. Buffett and Mr. Charlie provide an environment to the CEOs where CEOs can show their talent.

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When CEOs does not have such kind of pressure and time freedom then they can able to perform well with the value creation among the business. Unnecessary and excess of meetings also reduces the performance. Also, those who do not have a pressure, get the freedom to work then they will produce a better result.

General Re

Berkshire has made a 100% ownership acquisition of General Re which is operated into the reinsurance business. The company is the largest U.S. property-casualty reinsurer, the company also owns 82% of the oldest reinsurance company in the world, Cologne Re. The two companies together reinsure all lines of insurance and operate in 124 countries.

Warren Buffett’s Letters 1957 – 2012

WARREN BUFFETT’S LETTER – 1996

Warren Buffett’s Letter – 1996

Acquisitions

Kansas Bankers Surety (KBS)

The company is an operating into the business of insurance which has a presence in 22 states, decent underwriting record with Don Towle as a manager. They made a deal to acquire a company at $75 million.

FlightSafety International

The company is the world’s leader in the training of pilots. The company operates in 41 locations, outfitted with 175 simulators of planes ranging from the very small, such as Cessna 210s, to Boeing 747s. About half of the company’s revenues are derived from the training of corporate pilots, with most of the balance coming from airlines and the military. They made an acquisition at $1.5 billion.

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We need to prepare a list of the errors which can be dangerous for the health of our investment and work to avoid those errors. If we work on the avoiding mistakes then we can win 50% of the battle.

List of mistakes which I have experienced during my investment journey –

  • Never ignore the true value of the company—Every business has some value and that we should not have to ignore. If we commit such a mistake then the market will defiantly punish us. Be careful with the true worth of the company and only buy it when it falls below its true worth. And if business not available below its true worth then ready to missed that opportunity. Loss of opportunity is better than the loss of capital.
  • Don’t buy HOT —-If we buy the hot business such as recent trend, new IPOs, business on which everyone is bullish etc., then we must have to exit it at the proper time. So if we aren’t able to exit at the proper time then it’s better to let it go such opportunities. If we buy HOT then that HOT will BURN our portfolio.
  • Buying a high leverage business — We need to avoid a business which has a huge borrowings, such borrowings can kill the business and also kill our investment journey.
  • Using the wrong valuation method — Every business will not get valued with a similar valuation matrix. We need to identify the nature of the business and then value a particular business. Such as we should not use the valuation matrix of growing non-cyclical business for cyclical business, should not use the valuation matrix of assets light business for assets heavy business and vice-versa. If we made such a mistake then whether we might miss a decent investment opportunity or we might lose our capital.
  • A mistake of buying a story, not a fundamental — I have never ever made such a mistake because I am a hard-core lover of numbers. But I have seen many of the people who always focus on the story and also which is very trending to the market. I believe that without the support of numbers, no story can survive for long. In the year 2014-15, Logistics stocks due to GST gets a trending story but due to lack of good numbers, the story gets failed. People generally avoid numbers due to lack of understanding of it. I firmly believe that “Stories are for kids, not for investors.”
  • Investing without a process and philosophy — I can overcome this mistake at the initial period of my investment journey and that is only because of my guru – Neeraj Marathe Sir (who always believe on having a process and philosophy for making an investment). I have seen many people who spent lots of time into the market but they do not have any process or philosophy. They change their philosophy as they meet various people. If we do not have our own process and philosophy for making an investment then we will not able to create a successful investment journey. I also learn from my guru that we must have our philosophy in a written format so that we can refer it over a period of time and stop ourselves from occurring a mistake.
  • Not using a checklist — We should have a checklist for a business, industry, financial, management etc. so that we can focus on the points to study and also not forget any point to study. I am using a checklist for the last 3 years and I can say that having a checklist helps me a lot. My checklist keeps on improving as my experience grows.
  • Making an investment decision with disturb mind — We should avoid making an investment decision while our mind is disturbed. Disturbance in mind will end up with the faulty investment decision and which can be harmful to our wealth.
  • Cloning a well-known investors/fund managers — Again I can overcome this mistake at the initial period of my investment journey and again credit goes to my guru. If we have our process and philosophy then we will not try to clone others. I have seen many people who have spent 10-15-20 years to the stock market then also not having any process and philosophy & they clone others. Many of the people have cloning as their investment philosophy because they love to use shortcuts. I always remember the quote of my guru –

NM

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When Company does not have an opportunity to reinvest earnings at a higher rate than the company should distribute those earnings to the shareholders so that they can use it somewhere for getting a higher return. If the company does not have a good opportunity to reinvest earnings and then also company does not distribute earnings as a dividend then we need to be careful with a company (Question on the capital allocation decision of a management or earnings can be manipulated or business always needs a huge capital to sustain only).

Examples – No/Low growth high dividend payout

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Examples – No/Low growth low dividend payout

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We need to check the above-mentioned factors in the company where we have made an investment and where we want to make an investment. Most important is to gain a market share. The company cannot able to gain market share, though the company has a competitive advantage then that competitive advantage not useful for us. We should not focus on the leadership position of the company rather need to focus on the companies which focus on the manufacturing, distribution, packaging and product innovation. Market leadership can be changed if the company does not focus on the mentioned points.

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According to Mr.Buffett, paying a higher price does not risk for the good companies compared to paying higher prices for the bad companies.

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Let me take an example of one the biggest wealth creator company of the Indian stock market—

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If someone has bought this company during the March-2000, at the high price of around Rs.431 then after the 16 years of the period, he gets returned at 7% CAGR. And if enter to the similar company at the low price of around Rs.275 during the March-2000 then after the 16 years of the period, he gets a returned of 10% CAGR (*Considering all-time high price for calculating returns). Though revenue has grown at 30% CAGR, Operating profit grown at 27% CAGR and Net profit also grown at 27% CAGR during the same period with supported by a good management team. During March-2000, the company was traded at 64x P/E at the low price of Rs.275 and this multiple is common nowadays.

When management of a good business diverts their focus into the business which is not performing well then such decision of the management affect the performance of the business.

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Example – We have seen examples such as liquor manufacturer enter into the airlines business, airport contraction business has diversified into the power business.

Mr.Buffett has also mentioned the Circle of Competence concept –

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Control on our temptation, control on our emotion towards our investment is essential to survive and create wealth from our investment.

Warren Buffett’s Letters 1957 – 2012

WARREN BUFFETT’S LETTER – 1994 – 1995

WB Letter 1994

Mr. Buffett has mentioned that they are ready to wait for opportunities within their comfort zone. They do not like to capture each and every opportunity but want to capture an opportunity within their circle of competence. He added that they have picked up their best investment when some of the macro factors are at the peak. Here, we can also make an interpretation that we also can make a good investment when the macro is at the peak of worst situations such as 2008 global crisis, 2013 depressed economic growth with policy paralysis, etc.

Own investment approach

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Book Value and Intrinsic Value
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Mr. Buffett has explained how we need to look at the growing business in-terms of earning and not huge growth into the book value.

Berkshire has made an investment into the Scott Fetzer at the beginning of the year 1986 with having a collection of 22 business which is the same in the year 1994. They paid $315.20 million for Scott Fetzer which having a book value of $172.60 million.

Performance of the book value given by Mr. Buffett of Scott Fetzer –

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We can see that book of the company has not grown but earnings of the company have grown approximate double. Also when Berkshire has made an investment into the company then the company has debt on balance sheet and in the year 1994, the company becomes virtually debt free. Return on equity has been improved well.

Intrinsic Value and Capital Allocation

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Whenever merger and acquisition made by a management then they should have the focus that whether the intrinsic value of the company is increasing or getting diluted.

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We need not make a difficult investment for getting a good return if we can able to analyze business which is easy to understand and its economic characteristic are long lasting then we can get a good payoff for our investment.

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They also give priority to the existing investment rather buy a new investment. They compare that which investment opportunity is more beneficial to them.

Mistake Du Jour

Mr. Buffett has mentioned that purchasing a USAir in the year 1994 as his mistake.

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WB Letter 1995

Acquisitions

Mr. Buffett has explained regarding acquisitions that when the company has a business which is performed sometimes and worsen at few times then we need to sell the business when it is performing well. Majority of the company doing same so that when the acquisition of any company happens then majority of the time acquiring company does not get a benefit. We need to carefully analyze that whether acquisition increases a per share intrinsic value for shareholder or not.

Examples of wealth destructor companies through acquisition

One of the medical device company which has done reverse compounding of the wealth of investors –

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One of the wind energy company which has done reverse compounding of the wealth of investors –

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Helzberg’s Diamond Shops

Helzberg’s Diamond Shops was started by the grandfather of Barnett Helzberg, Jr. In the year 1915 with a single store which has increased to 134 stores in 23 states. Sales had grown from $10 million in the year 1974 to $282 million in the year 1994. Berkshire has taken stake into the company in the year 1995.

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R.C. Willey Home Furnishings

R.C.Willey is the leading home furnishings business in Utah. Bill Child, CEO of R.C. Willey has taken over the business from his father-in-law in the year 1954 when sales were about $250,000 and he put efforts which resulted into the sales of $257 million in the year 1995. Company accounts for 50% of the furniture business in Utah.

According to Mr. Buffett, Retailing is a tough business –

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GEICO Corporation

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Mr. Buffett has bought GEICO into his personal account when he was at the age of 20 years.

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Float

Berkshire has not only compounded business earnings but also compounded its float. Since the year 1967 to the year 1995, Company has compounded its float by the compounded rate of 20.7%.

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Examples of the companies which generating 10%+ ROA and compounded float

One of the automobile and commercial vehicle company which has created a huge wealth –

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One of the automobile company which has created a wealth –

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One of the FMCG Company which has created a huge wealth –

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One of the Asset Management Company –

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Charlie and Buffett believes to control being wrong and follow – “Just tell me the bad news; the good news will take care of itself”

Disney

The merger of Cap Cities into the Disney approved in the year 1995 where Cap Cities shareholders get a choice of cash or share of Disney (one share of Disney for one share of Cap Cities). Berkshire has selected share option for their 20 million of Cap Cities shares.

Mr. Buffett has been interested into the Disney since the year 1966 where Disney was available at ~23% of pre-tax earnings yield (23% = $21 million of pre-tax profit / $90 million of market value).

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Berkshire always respects shareholders though they hold large size or small size.

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Warren Buffett’s Letters 1957 – 2012

WARREN BUFFETT’S LETTER – 1993

WB Letter 1993

Dexter Shoe

H.H.Brown shoes (Purchased by Berkshire) has made an acquisition of Dexter Shoe in the year 1993, which is in the business of manufacturing of popular-priced men’s and women’s shoes. Buffett & Charlie admire Dexter as a business. Dexter’s has a 77 retail outlets and company is a leading manufacturer of golf shoes which is producing 15% of U.S. output.

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Example – Good player into the worst industry matrix

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We can see in above example of three real estate companies where Company – 1 having a good matrix compared to the other two companies. Also equity dilution into the company – 1 is increased by 1% CAGR in last 10 years compared to 12% CAGR and 5% CAGR in last 10 years respectively for the company – 2 and company – 3. We can see that debt and equity both has increased into the second and third company whereas company – 1 has maintained balance sheet strength. During a good period, the company – 1 has the least inventories as a % of sales and other 2 companies has higher inventory as a % of sales. Sales of a company – 1 has increased by 10% CAGR in last 10 years compared to -7% CAGR and -6% CAGR in last 10 years respectively for the company – 2 and company – 3. We can see stock performance then company – 1 has given 53% CAGR in last 17 years compared to -9% CAGR and 15% CAGR in last 11 & 17 years respectively for the company – 2 and company – 3.

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We need to focus on the good player into the worst industry matrix for making an investment. Generally, the good player will gain the market share compared with the worst players in the industry and able to survive for the longer period of time. Also our invested capital get protection with the creation of wealth. The similar pattern we can able to find at infra, telecom, power sectors, etc.

Many of us misunderstood that insurance business of Berkshire get float as a free of cost but it is not true. When insurance business incurring underwriting losses then such losses need to take for consideration as a cost of float.

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Mr. Buffett and Mr.Munger believe that they are not smart enough to make many right decisions. But they like to hold good business forever and avoid to make many decisions. We should consider “Risk” as a loss, not the academic definition of “Beta” as a volatility of the portfolio.

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We should focus on what the company produces, what competitors are doing, how much borrowing company has taken rather than focusing on the price history of the company and the daily price movement of the stocks.

Criteria for focusing during investment evaluation –

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Mr. Buffett has explained three scenarios of management and owners of the company which impacts to the performance and corporate governance of the company.

First scenario where no controlling authority and company managed by directors

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The second scenario where controlling owner also work as a manager

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The third scenario where controlling owner who is not involved in the management

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Warren Buffett’s Letters 1957 – 2012

WARREN BUFFETT’S LETTER – 1992

WB Letter 1992

Mr. Buffett has written that they own a collection of business which is exceptional and also a run by an exceptional manager which has resulted in the higher returns.

Nowadays I have experience that everyone is becoming a market expert and providing their view on the short-term direction of the market. For such people, Mr. Buffett has given a good quote –

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The Salomon Interlude

In 1991, Salomon Brothers caught for bond trading scandal and Mr. Buffett has performed as a chairman of Salomon for the ten months to resolve a problem at Saloman. At Salomon, they have been submitting false bids in an attempt to purchase more Treasury bonds than permitted by one buyer during the period between December 1990 and May 1991.

Five authorities – the SEC, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the U.S. Treasury, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice – had important concerns about Salomon.

Acquisitions

Many acquisition-hungry managers made an acquisition with the hope that they will transform business which will provide them with a good opportunity to earn. When a manager gets failed, they learn a lesson but shareholders pay fees for selecting them as an investment candidate. Mr. Buffett has accepted that during his earlier career, he also has made an acquisition but he able to achieve success due to cheapness into acquisitions and some of the acquisition got failed also. And due to such mistakes to get a failure, he revised his strategy to make an investment.

TATA Steel 01

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Berkshire has made an investment into the Central States Indemnity which is an insurance company provides an insurance to the credit-card holders who are unable themselves to pay because they have become disabled or unemployed.

H.H.Brown, a Subsidiary of a Berkshire has made an acquisition of Lowell Shoe Company which is into the manufacturing of the shoes for nurses, and other kinds of shoes as well.

Mr. Buffett has initial thought of purchase General Dynamics for the tendering stocks to the buyback and earns a small profit in short term. But Mr. Buffett began to study the company and he found that Bill Anders, CEO of the company has performed a decent job to run a business. Mr. Buffett has dropped the idea of buyback opportunity and decided to become a long-term investor of the company.

Investing strategy of Berkshire has been little change and also Mr. Buffett has made some compromise on the price to purchase a business’s due to market condition and their increased size.

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Now, how to know an attractive price? Mr. Buffett has explained that we look attractive price with the framework of value or a growth investor – what we consider to ourselves. He explained that growth is always a component of the calculation of the value of any company. He mentioned that people using value investing term everywhere with the paying higher price then calculated the value in the hope that someone pays higher to purchase an asset from them. But such activities do not consider as an investment, it is a speculation.

People consider value investing where attribute such as low Price – to – Earnings ratio, low Price to Book Value ratio or high dividend yield or combination from mentioned and not consider value investing where reverse attributes are available. Many a time, business growth also tell us little about the value but it is also true that often growth has a positive impact on the value. We have to analyze that whether a business can able to generate a good return on the incremental invested capital or business generating a low return on incremental capital. Former one provides the benefit of growth to the investors and latter one hurts to the investment.

Ex – Value Trap

Taken from Thoughts on Thoughts blog

MTNL

The company looks very cheap on the basis of the financial metrics, but if someone who does not have paid attention to the business of the company then—

MTNL Chart

An investor has lost his capital also. So, that in value investing also, we cannot escape from the future. (For detail article, Kindly visit – http://neerajmarathe.blogspot.in/2010/04/mtnl-value-trap.html)

Value Trap – One of the educational providing company which fall under the criteria of value investing

Jetking

The company is not able to generate good growth in sales and in the profitability but investment and cash have grown well. Also currently the company is available below cash + investment which fall under the criteria of the value investing. But what about the growth into the business or on the survival of the business. Will be cash & investment remain with the company in the future? Lower sales, higher expenses, lower profitability and for last 3 years the company has stopped paying a dividend. Should we consider such investment as value investing or value trap?

Ex – Growth at the low return on capital companies

The company which is generating a good sales growth but they is not able to generate a higher return on capital they employed then those companies require to take debt or dilute an equity (in-short they need external funding). Investors in such companies will face difficult to create wealth or sustain wealth.

High growth with low return

We can see that companies having a higher sales growth but cannot able to generate a higher return on capital then they require to bring external finance to fund the growth. The growth of such companies will extend for the long period but investors face difficult to create wealth.

High growth with low return chart

Ex – Growth at the higher return on capital companies

Reverse to above if company having a good growth with having a higher return on employed capital then company does not require to bring external financing (if they having a borrowing or a dilution of capital then the size of it is very small in proportion) to fund the growth of a company and also investors of such a company can create a good wealth.

High growth with high return

High growth with high return c 1

Ex – Higher growth but no value

If we just focus on the growth of the company and not on the quality of the growth then we need to lose our capital also.

High growth but no value

A company having good growth but does it have a quality of growth?

High growth but no value C 2

More dangerous balance-sheet quality after FY2010 –

High growth but no value 1

Every time does not value investing or growth investing provides a better investment opportunity but a rational combination of the both can be good investment opportunities.

Mr. Buffett has explained valuation matrix given by Mr. John Burr Williams which is determined by the cash inflows and outflows – discounted at an appropriate interest rate – that can be expected to occur during the remaining life of the asset. He has given matrix which similarly uses for bond and stocks. But bond involves fixed future cash inflow in-terms of coupon received by us and in equities such coupon is not fixed, we cannot say with surety about future cash inflow and outflow for business. Cash inflow and outflow into equities are highly dependence on the nature of a business, quality of management. For overcoming such problem Mr. Buffett uses two rules at Berkshire –

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According to Mr. Buffett, new issue market is controlling by the stockholders and institution; also new issues come during favorable market conditions and we need to pay a higher multiple. Here, we are not going to get any bargain whereas in the secondary market, many a time, we get x value business at the 1/2x.

Warren Buffett’s Letters 1957 – 2012