Interesting and Intriguing Quotes from Daily Journal Annual Meeting 2014 from Charlie Munger.
The miracle of Capitalism is that it works at all. Its main virtue, we have been told, is that it is better than the alternatives. To the extent that it does work it is because of its ability to adapt and change, whereas competing ideologies are so dependent on dogma that they become fossilized shortly after conception. Important as this ability to chance is, it does not come easy. Capitalism is no pushover; it is more like a very stubborn mule, so for progress to continue the occasional application of a very large 2x4 is necessary.
It will not come as a shock that 2008 was not a good year in investment. Unfortunately the fact that we have been predicting this sort of market for a few years does not seem to eliminate the pain from watching asset values decline. While it was easy to see the accident about to happen we were still surprised by its magnitude. For the year our average long term account was down about 23% – 25% and the average short term account down somewhat less. This compares to a 37% decline in the S&P 500 Average, a 40% decline in the NASDAQ Composite, a 45% decline in international markets and a 55% decline in emerging market equities.
Western Refining Inc is an independent crude oil refiner and marketer of refined products. It also operates service stations and convenience stores. The Western Refining owns and operates four refineries with a total crude oil capacity of approximately 234,000 barrels per day.
This year’s Berkshire Hathaway Chairman’s Letter is enclosed. Berkshire Hathaway’s 2006 earnings were spectacular. My estimate (which I considered overly optimistic) for the fourth quarter, was for net of $3.2 billion, but the earnings actually came in at $3.6 billion.
"We’re not saying that we do things better, but rather that this is us. We want people with a lifetime commitment to their business. To underscore the values that we have, everything we do is consistent with Berkshire Hathaway’s culture. Everything they see hear, and read from the company should be consistent ... Homes have cultures. Companies have cultures. Countries have Cultures at Berkshire Hathaway's people buy into it and see that it works. This kind of thing doesn’t require mentoring. Managers see consistency in how Charlie and I act." Warren Buffett.
After a bubble appeared in a trading series there would be a correction and then after the first correction, the bubble would usually reappear. The bubble starts to re-inflate, but this time the participants, burned by their previous experience are more cautious and the values do not become as extreme.
More remarkable still is the fact that this is the latest in a series of large macro bets: the purchase of S&P puts, junk bonds purchases, and fixed-income sales; actions so wonderfully out of character for the world's greatest value investor as to suggest that by some mysterious process Kiewit Plaza had been magically transported to Lower Manhattan and George Soros has taken possession of the Oracle's body.
There is no such thing as a risk free investment all investments carry some risk ... A good investment is one minimizes the risk that the investor faces, and that pays you well for taking the risk. All investments decisions should start with measuring risk.
The trade deficit exists because of the power of the American consumer, and while it is likely that currency markets will remain volatile, and may even perhaps get violently more so in the near term, the underlying factors that are the cause of this overvaluation of the dollar are not likely to change in our lifetime.
For instance, the Costco's companies total reported earnings for the period was $481.5 million; this is about the same as the net increase in cash as shown on the Balance Sheet ($483.9 million). Total cash on hand at the end of the period was $1.289 billion or about the same as the companies total debt level.
Warren Buffett’s Management style is firmly grounded in things like large margins of safety, and the acceptance of short term pain in exchange of long term gain. For insurance companies this is a very different management imperative that GE’s belief that the road to heaven is paved with smooth and ascending earnings reports.
About bubbles, the money supply, shorting Treasury Bonds, and the direction of the economy for the rest of 2002. "So is flight to fixed income a rational refection of the economic conditions we can expect in the near future, or is it just Mr. Market scared to death by what he sees in the rear view mirror."
In other words Costco can show the same profit on 10.4% markup as Dillard's can on a mark up of 32.3%. For a watch that manufactures sells for $100. Dillard's would have to sell it for $132.30 to make the same profit that Costco would make by selling the same piece for $110.40 (this percentage is actually based on a markdown not a markup so the real prices would be higher, but you get the idea.) Wal-Mart is bringing 1.5% more down to the bottom line so they would price the watch at $124.5 ($123 + $1.50). Low margins and fast turn over can help to create a respectable moat for a retail powerhouse.