Monday, 10 March, 2008

Warren Buffett's mantra to mint money!

A frugal billionaire

He bought his first share at age 11.

He bought a small farm at age 14 with savings from delivering newspapers.

He does not have a cellphone, has no computer on his desk, drives his own car and does not have security guard with him.

He is the world's richest man, the living legend, Warren Buffett!

One of the most successful investors the world has ever seen, Warren Buffett is today the richest man on the planet, according to Forbes magazine's annual list of billionaires.

Chairman of the Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett's wealth jumped by $10 billion jump to hit $62 billion during 2007. Buffett has beat friend -- and Microsoft boss -- Bill Gates' 13-year reign as the richest man. Buffett's journey to become the world's richest is truly inspirational.

A staunch follower of value investing, he started with an initial fund of $105,000 in 1956, the rest is history. Over the next five decades, Buffett's wealth rose to $62 billion.

But he is not the one to flaunt his riches, simple and down-to earth, Buffett continues to live in the same house in Omaha that he bought in 1958 for $31,500. He says that he has everything he needs in that house. His house does not have a wall or a fence.

Know more about the making of 'Warren Buffett' and his mantra for minting money.

The early years

As a young boy, Buffett, the son of a stockbroker always yearned to make more money. He started making pocket money by delivering newspapers.

When he was just eleven years old, Buffett bought his first stock. He purchases 6 shares of Cities Service preferred stock: 3 shares for himself, 3 for his sister, Doris, at $38 per share. The stock fell to $27 but went up to $40. Warren and Doris sold their stock for a small margin. Immediately after that, the stock zoomed to $200 per share, much to his disappointment. That's when he learnt a very important lesson in life: Patience pays!

A self-made billionaire, Buffett has a great memory and was always good at mathematics and business.

At the age of 14, with the money he had saved from part-time businesses and delivering newspapers, he bought a Nebraska farmland, which he later leased to a farmer.

After his graduation from the University of Nebraska, he pursued further studies at the Columbia Graduate Business School under Benjamin Graham. He started his career with Graham where he learned a lot about stock investment.

After Graham retired, Buffettt started a company in his native place Omaha funded by family and friends. It turned out to e a great success. Later, he set his eyes on buying stocks in Berkshire Hathaway.

Soon, Warren Buffettt has a majority holding in the company. He set out to revive the company which was hit by high manufacturing costs. He helped Hathaway buy out two Nebraska insurance companies. This was the turning point in Berkshire Hathaway. Since then there has been no looking back� His friendship with lawyer and investor Charlie Munger further turned around his fortunes as well as the company's. Munger joined Warren at Berkshire Hathaway as its vice-chairman.

Under their leadership the company became well-established. Today with 2,17,000 employees, the company boast of revenues to the tune of $118.245 billion and net income of US$13.213 billion.

Berkshire Hathaway, headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S., manages a number of subsidiary companies. Berkshire Hathaway's core business is insurance, including property and casualty insurance, reinsurance and specialty nonstandard insurance.

Buffett had once told a friend that he will be a millionaire by the time he turns thirty. In 1983, Berkshire shares is at $775 per share, by the end of the year it rises to $1,31 and Buffettt's personal net worth zoomed to $620 million. He makes it to the Forbes richest list for the first time.

The guru's words of wisdom

Warren Buffett's letters to shareholders are a treasure trove of information and packed with good strategies and loads of wise words. The letters give an insight into his thoughts, hopes and aspirations.

According to him, there are many rules to win the game. The first rule is not to lose. The second rule is not to forget the first rule.

Mistakes? An investor needs to do very few things right as long as he or she avoids big mistakes.

Want high value? Focus on return on equity, not earnings per share. Calculate "owner earnings" to get a true reflection of value.

How to choose the right companies to invest? In the 2007 letter, he says Charlie and I look for companies that have a) a business we understand; b) favorable long-term economics; c) able and trustworthy management; and d) a sensible price tag.

We like to buy the whole business or, if management is our partner, at least 80 per cent. When control-type purchases of quality aren't available, though, we are also happy to simply buy small portions of great businesses by way of stock market purchases. It's better to have a part interest in the Hope Diamond than to own all of a rhinestone.

What makes a great biz? Look for companies with high profit margins. A truly great business must have an enduring 'moat' that protects excellent returns on invested capital. The dynamics of capitalism guarantee that competitors will repeatedly assault any business 'castle' that is earning high returns. When to say Yes and No? The ability to say 'no' is a tremendous advantage for an investor.

Want great results? Always invest for the long term. It is not necessary to do extraordinary things to get extraordinary results.

Flashy degrees? No, we need good brains! Buffett doesn't believe in flashy degree and titles: He says, Susan came to Borsheims (jewellery shop) 25 years ago as a $4-an-hour saleswoman. Though she lacked a managerial background, I did not hesitate to make her CEO in 1994. She's smart, she loves the business, and she loves her associates. That beats having an MBA degree any time. Charlie and I are not big fans of resumes. Instead, we focus on brains, passion and integrity, he says.

Great managers? One of our great managers is Cathy Baron Tamraz, who has significantly increased Business Wire's earnings since we purchased it early in 2006. She is an owner's dream. It is positively dangerous to stand between Cathy and a business prospect. Cathy, it should be noted, began her career as a cab driver.

In Berkshire's 1977 annual report, Buffettt described the central principles of his investment strategy: "We select our marketable equity securities in much the way we would evaluate a business for acquisition in its entirety. We want the business to be one (a) that we can understand; (b) with favorable long-term prospects; (c) operated by honest and competent people; and (d) available at a very attractive price."

The critical investment factor is determining the intrinsic value of a business and paying a fair or bargain price. Buy companies with strong histories of profitability and with a dominant business franchise.

Weigh the pros and cons: Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy only when others are fearful. It is optimism that is the enemy of the rational buyer.

A success mantra? Much success can be attributed to inactivity. Most investors cannot resist the temptation to constantly buy and sell.

The generous Buffett

Buffett is also a great philanthropist. In 2006, he announced a plan to donate his fortune to charity, with 83 per cent of it for Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Buffettt announced a new charity plan in 1981 and asked each shareholder to designate charities which would receive $2 for each Berkshire share the stockholder owned.

This was in response to a common practice on wall street where the CEO chose charitable organisations which will receive the company's hand-outs. The plan was a huge success and over the years the amount was increased for each share. Eventually, the berkshire shareholders were giving millions of dollars away each year - all to their own causes.

In June 2006, Warren Buffettt gave about 10 million Berkshire Hathaway Class B shares worth approximately $30.7 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Buffett also announced plans to contribute additional Berkshire stock valued at approximately $6.7 billion to the Susan Thompson Buffettt Foundation and to other foundations headed by his three children.

The bulk of the estate of his wife, valued at $2.6 billion, went to Buffett foundation after her demise in 2004.

Buffett doesn't feel guilty for being so rich. "The way I see it is that my money represents an enormous number of claim checks on society. There's nothing material I want very much. And I'm going to give virtually all cheques to charity when my wife and I die."

The World as Buffett sees it

Warren Buffett's words leave lasting impressions...

"Berkshire is my painting, so it should look the way I want it to when it's done."

Warren Buffett sounds an alarm in his letter to shareholders: The party is over. It's a certainty that insurance-industry profit margins, including ours, will fall significantly in 2008. Prices are down, and exposures inexorably rise. Even if the US has its third consecutive catastrophe-light year, industry profit margins will probably shrink by four percentage points or so. If the winds roar or the earth trembles, results could be far worse. So be prepared for lower insurance earnings during the next few years.

His children will not inherit a significant proportion of his wealth. Buffettt says, "I want to give my kids just enough so that they would feel that they could do anything, but not so much that they would feel like doing nothing".

A public-opinion poll is no substitute for thought.

I always knew I was going to be rich. I don't think I ever doubted it for a minute.

I am quite serious when I say that I do not believe there are, on the whole earth besides, so many intensified bores as in these United States. No man can form an adequate idea of the real meaning of the word, without coming here.

I buy expensive suits. They just look cheap on me.

I never attempt to make money on the stock market. I buy on the assumption that they could close the market the next day and not reopen it for five years.

If a business does well, the stock eventually follows.

It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently.

It's far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.

Live life the Buffett style!

Warren Buffett is one of the world's most frugal billionaires:

He never travels by private jet, although he owns the world's largest private jet company.

His company, Berkshire Hathaway, owns 63 companies. He writes only one letter each year to the CEOs of these companies, giving them goals for the year. He never holds meetings or calls them on a regular basis.

Unlike most people of his stature, he doesn't not enjoying partying He loves to make popcorn and enjoy his sare time watching television.

Warren Buffett does not carry a cell phone, nor has a computer on his desk.

His advice to the card savvy youngsters: Stay away from credit cards and invest in yourself.

A peek into Buffett's personal life

On his 76th birthday, Buffett married his longtime companion, Astrid Menks.

Interestingly, it was first wife, Susan Buffett, who arranged for the two to meet before she left Omaha to pursue her singing career.

But they remained close firneds and holiday cards to friends were signed -- Warren, Susie and Astrid -- according to Roger Lowenstein's book, Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist.

Buffett has three children - Susie, Howard, and Peter - out his first marriage with Susan Thompson in 1952 . But the marriage did not last long.

Though the couple began living separately in 1977, they remained married until her death in July 2004.

His daughter Susie does charitable work through the Susan A. Buffett Foundation and is a national board member of Girls, Inc.

Buffett loves to play the card game bridge. He he spends 12 hours a week playing bridge. He often plays with Bill Gates and Paul Allen.

Buffett's favourite place to eat is Gorat's Steak House in Omaha, where he likes to relish the T-bone steak, a double order of hash browns, and Cherry Coke.

According to US News and World Report, he drinks about five Cherry Cokes a day.

He used to drive a 2001 Lincoln Town Car which he auctioned to raise money for Girls Inc. He currently drives a Cadillac DTS.