February 27, 2011

A girl in a convertible is worth 5 in the phone book

You gotta love Warren Buffett.  His latest letter to shareholders of Berkshire has been published.  Among many of the great lines he has written in his 46 years of stewardship, one of his best appeared in this latest letter:  "A girl in a convertible is worth five in the phone book."

Here are a couple of other clever bits:
"We would rather be approximately right than precisely wrong."

"John Kenneth Galbraith once slyly observed that economists were most economical with ideas: They made the ones learned in graduate school last a lifetime."

"The fundamental principle of auto racing is that to finish first, you must first finish."

"Unquestionably, some people have become very rich through the use of borrowed money. However, that’s also been a way to get very poor. When leverage works, it magnifies your gains. Your spouse thinks you’re clever, and your neighbors get envious. But leverage is addictive. Once having profited from its wonders, very few people retreat to more conservative practices. And as we all learned in third grade – and some relearned in 2008 – any series of positive numbers, however impressive the numbers may be, evaporates when multiplied by a single zero. History tells us that leverage all too often produces zeroes, even when it is employed by very smart people. Leverage, of course, can be lethal to businesses as well."

"We agree with investment writer Ray DeVoe’s observation, 'More money has been lost reaching for yield than at the point of a gun'.”

"Anyone who says money can’t buy happiness simply hasn’t learned where to shop."

And, finally, he thanks his corporate office crew of only 20 people ("and we intend to keep it that way"), who among many other tasks "files a 14,097-page Federal income tax return".


Reading the full report is something most smart investors look forward to all year.  Me too.

And if you haven't visited it yet, check out the Berkshire Hathaway website home page.  It's a masterpiece of understatement!