Monday, 18 July 2011

Warren Buffett Biography

Warren Buffett is Born:
Warren Edward Buffett was born on August 30, 1930 to his father Howard, a stockbroker-turned-Congressman. The only boy, he was the second of three children, and displayed an amazing aptitude for both money and business at a very early age. Acquaintances recount his uncanny ability to calculate columns of numbers off the top of his head - a feat Warren still amazes business colleagues with today.

At only six years old, Buffett purchased 6-packs of Coca Cola from his grandfather's grocery store for twenty five cents and resold each of the bottles for a nickel, pocketing a five cent profit. While other children his age were playing hopscotch and jacks, Warren was making money. Five years later, Buffett took his step into the world of high finance. At eleven years old, he purchased three shares of Cities Service Preferred at $38 per share for both himself and his older sister, Doris. Shortly after buying the stock, it fell to just over $27 per share. A frightened but resilient Warren held his shares until they rebounded to $40. He promptly sold them - a mistake he would soon come to regret. Cities Service shot up to $200. The experience taught him one of the basic lessons of investing: patience is a virtue.
Warren Buffett's Education
In 1947, a seventeen year old Warren Buffett graduated from High School. It was never his intention to go to college; he had already made $5,000 delivering newspapers (this is equal to $42,610.81 in 2000). His father had other plans, and urged his son to attend the Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania. Buffett stayed two years, complaining that he knew more than his professors. When Howard was defeated in the 1948 Congressional race, Warren returned home to Omaha and transferred to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Working full-time, he managed to graduate in only three years.

Warren Buffett approached graduate studies with the same resistance he displayed a few years earlier. He was finally persuaded to apply to Harvard Business School, which, in the worst admission decision in history, rejected him as "too young". Slighted, Warren applied to Columbia where famed investors Ben Graham and David Dodd taught - an experience that would forever change his life.

Buying Berkshire Hathaway

Buffett, after several years, decided to wind up the partnership, returning the lucky investors their capital and their share of the profits, and bought an interest in Berkshire Hathaway, a textile company, giving his original investors the the chance to invest. The smart ones did so.

Buffett’s early days at Berkshire Hathaway were not great. The company was in an industry facing real challenges from exports and high manufacturing costs. Warren Buffett had not, however, forgotten what he had learned under Graham, and arranged for the company to buy out two Nebraska insurance companies.

This was the start of Buffett’s interest in insurance and the rise to financial fame of both himself and Berkshire Hathaway. The insurance game is a hard one but under Buffett, the company has become, not only a successful share investor, but a leading provider of insurance.
Buffett and Charlie Munger

Buffett struck up a friendship with Charles T Munger, a lawyer and investor and Charlie Munger eventually joined Warren at Berkshire Hathaway as his Vice-Chairman, alter ego, and friend. Warren Buffett is always the first to acknowledge the contribution that Charlie Munger has made to Berkshire Hathaway. (Listen to an interview with Charlie Munger, or read our biography)

Under Buffett and Munger, Berkshire Hathaway has become an investment giant that wholly owns a number of successful companies that include:

    * Geico Corporation
    * Nebraska Furniture Mart
    * See’s Candy Shops

Warren Buffet, the man

Warren Buffett, the man, is just as hard to define as Warren Buffett, the investor. He projects a homespun frugality but one suspects that he plays his personality as close to the chest as he does his investment secrets. He always claims that it is his partner, Charlie Munger, who keeps his feet planted firmly in the ground.

Warren Buffet has become a legend and is generally ranked, along with his mentor, Benjamin Graham, first in a stellar cast of investors that includes Peter Lynch, John Neff, and Philip Fisher.

I'll Take a Coke
A year later, in 1988, he started buying up Coca-Cola stock like an addict. His old neighbor, now the President of Coca-Cola, noticed someone was loading up on shares and became concerned. After researching the transactions, he noticed the trades were being placed from the Midwest. He immediately thought of Buffett, whom he called. Warren confessed to being the culprit and requested they don't speak of it until he was legally required to disclose his holdings at the 5% threshold. Within a few months, Berkshire owned 7% of the company, or $1.02 billion dollars worth of the stock. Within three years, Buffett's Coca-Cola stock would be worth more than the entire value of Berkshire when he made the investment.

Warren Buffett's Money and Reputation On the Line During the Solomon Scandal
By 1989, Berkshire Hathaway was trading at $8,000 a share. Buffett was now, personally, worth more than $3.8 billion dollars. Within the next ten years, he would be worth ten times that amount. Before that would happen, there were much darker times ahead (read The Solomon Scandal).


Warren Buffet at the Turn of the Millennium
During the remainder of the 1990's, the stock catapulted as high as $80,000 per share. Even with this astronomical feat, as the dot-com frenzy began to take hold, Warren Buffett was accused of "losing his touch". In 1999, when Berkshire reported a net increase of 0.5% per share, several newspapers ran stories about the demise of the Oracle. Confident that the technology bubble would burst, Warren Buffett continued to do what he did best: allocate capital into great businesses that were selling below intrinsic value. His efforts did not go unrewarded. When the markets finally did come to their senses, Warren Buffett was once again a star. Berkshire's stock recovered to its previous levels after falling to around $45,000 per share, and the man from Omaha was once again seen as an investment icon.

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