Learning from Buffett’s Performance

In my last article, I looked at the stocks owned by Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway and asked the question, “How Active is Buffett’s Portfolio?”. As we found out, the answer is very active in terms of how different the equity portfolio looks vs. the broader market index. The combination of Buffett’s portfolio and investing acumen has translated into one of the best investment track records in history. There are some interesting observations we can… Read More

How Active is Buffett’s Portfolio?

By Justin J. Carbonneau (@jjcarbonneau) —  With a $500 billion market capitalization, Berkshire Hathaway is the fifth largest company by market cap in the U.S. stock market and the majority of the company’s value comes from three sources. The first is the 60 or so operating companies Berkshire owns and the future earnings power of those companies. The second is the cash on the balance sheet and the optionality to invest that in in the… Read More

An Analysis of Buffett’s Alpha

A 2018 paper published in the Financial Analyst’s Journal analyzes  the alpha created by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. The introduction, by authors Andrea Frazzini, David Kabiller, and Lasse Heje Pedersen (of AQR Capital management), reads: “While much has been said and written about Warren Buffett and his investment style, there has been little rigorous empirical analysis that explains his performance. Every investor has a view on how Buffett has done it and the practical implications… Read More

Buffett and Cooperman Agree Luck is Key to Investing Success

“Whatever success I’ve achieved, I think I’ve achieved it because I’ve been very lucky,” said founder and CEO of Omega Advisors Leon Cooperman in an October interview on CNBC. Cooperman echoes sentiment of Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, who has often said he was born with advantages that helped him along the way—which he refers to as winning the “ovarian lottery.”. In 2013, Buffett said, “The womb from which you emerge determines your fate to… Read More

Buffett Repurchases Over $900 Million in Berkshire Stock

An article in The Wall Street Journal reports that Berkshire Hathaway repurchased $928 million in stock in the third quarter of 2018, calling it a rare move that indicated Chairman Warren Buffett sees a dearth of appealing investment options for his company’s large cash balances. This is the first repurchase since 2012, the article says, reflecting the “the scarcity of attractively priced projects and deals that can satiate yield-hungry investors and firms more than nine… Read More

Investing Strategies of American Billionaires

An article in last month’s Forbes offers a synopsis of the investment approaches of some of our country’s prominent billionaires: Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway– Buffett uses a “common-sense playbook” of investing in companies that have a track record of making money, that have strong management teams and low debt levels. His mantra is summarized as, “only put your money into companies you understand, and don’t overpay.” Mark Cuban—This investor became a billionaire through… Read More

The Underappreciated Role of Luck in Investing

By Justin J. Carbonneau (@jjcarbonneau) —  The $1.5 billion Mega Millions jackpot had a lot of people daydreaming about what they would do if they won such a windfall. With odds of about 1 in 250 million, you can almost guarantee with 100% certainty that you and everyone else you know that bought a ticket woke up on last Wednesday to be disappointed. Still, someone was lucky enough to become a multi-millionaire overnight. While luck… Read More

Buffett’s Secret to Investing Success

A recent article in Forbes outlines what Warren Buffett frequently cites as the central themes of his investing approach—which can be found in two of his favorite books: The Intelligent Investor, by Benjamin Graham, and General Theory by John Maynard Keynes. The article breaks down the three themes as follows: Investment vs. Speculation: Graham’s book differentiates between investing, which consists of “buying stocks for less than they are fundamentally worth,” and speculation, which is “trying… Read More

Value Investor Channels Buffett

A recent Barron’s article profiles value investor Fred Copper, lead manager of the Columbia Overseas Valuefund, who has learned that the best way to beat his benchmark (the MSCI EAFE Value index) is to “not invest like it.” Copper has adopted a more flexible definition of value than some of his peers, based on his belief that traditional style benchmarks for value funds include a significant amount of cyclicality–meaning they include stocks that are sensitive… Read More

How Did Berkshire Hathaway Look in 1975?

A recent Morningstar article offers an overview of Berkshire Hathaway stock performance since 1975 and whether it would have been attractive to an investor in the early days based on five- and ten-year historical returns. Regarding the second five-year period, the article asserts, “Boy, did things change,” adding, “In real terms, that whippersnapper Warren Buffett turned $10,000 of January 1971 money into just under $7200. The Oracle of Omaha indeed! More like the Numbskull of… Read More